Move over, iPhone 12. Apple's iPhone 13 may feature under-display Touch ID

in-screen fingerprint sensor
(Image credit: Future)

A persistent Apple leaker has claimed that future iPhone models, potentially the iPhone 13, could embed Touch ID under the smartphone's screen for fingerprint authentication, as an alternative to Face ID.

A 2019 leak originally suggested that it could be the iPhone 12 that first featured under-display Touch, but the Apple source admitted at the time that the tech would likely be pushed back to the 2021 iPhone lineup. This new leak corroborates that prediction.

Twitter account @L0vetodream, which 9to5Mac says previously gave accurate details about the iPhone 12 lineup, the HomePod mini, and the Apple Watch 6, tweeted 'MESA uts for iPhone'. Another leaker, Jon Prosser, jumped in to explain that 'MESA' is Apple's codename for Touch ID, while 'uts' is an acronym for 'under the screen'.

Prosser also leaked today that there would be no new Apple TV until 2021.

Apple submitted two patents in July 2020 that discussed an "Optical-Fingerprint Detection System" and the difficulties of reading fingerprints using sensors embedded in an OLED screen (via Apple Insider). The evidence strongly suggests that Apple is actively pursuing this, with the only question being whether the technology will be ready for next year's phones.

When the iPhone 12 launches next week, it will continue to rely on Face ID for login, which has become less convenient in the age of face masks. Offering a biometric fingerprint login as an alternative while outside, while still keeping Face ID for faster logins at home, would be highly convenient. 

In fact, Apple could offer a security option to require both in order to log in for added security. Face ID has some potential security issues, but Apple has patented a solution called 'Subepidermal Imaging' that would scan the veins in your head to make sure you're really you. That, combined with a fingerprint requirement, would fully secure your iPhone 13.

What we've heard about the iPhone 13 so far

Yes, we're getting ahead of ourselves, considering the iPhone 12 isn't even out yet, but the leaks about the 2021 iPhone, beyond in-screen fingerprinting, have been genuinely exciting to consider.

Prosser said in June 2020 that the iPhone 13 (or 14) could be a foldable phone with "two separate display panels on a hinge", stainless steel edges, and a "tiny forehead" on the outer display for Face ID instead of a notch.

On the other hand, a leak from @UniverseIce suggested that the iPhone 13 would be thinner than the 12 but would otherwise keep the same form factor as previous iPhones, and preserve the notch for the selfie cam.

In yet another major iPhone 13 leak, DSCC founder and display analyst Ross Young said that the iPhone 13 lineup would have integrated touch OLED screens, 120Hz ProMotion displays, Time-of-Flight (ToF) selfie cameras for touchless gesture navigation, and up to 1.9μm triple rear cams.

Michael Hicks

Michael Hicks began his freelance writing career with TechRadar in 2016, covering emerging tech like VR and self-driving cars. Nowadays, he works as a staff editor for Android Central, but still writes occasional TR reviews, how-tos and explainers on phones, tablets, smart home devices, and other tech.