Apple made arguably the biggest change to the iPhone design in years with the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, as these phones finally got rid of the notch, and replaced it with the company’s innovative Dynamic Island. But the ultimate goal might be to hide the Face ID and camera components entirely, and we might see the next step towards that with the iPhone 16 Pro.
That’s according to a report on The Elec (via Pocket Lint), which states that the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max will have their Face ID components hidden under the screen, much like many Android phones now have under-display fingerprint scanners.
This won’t completely eliminate the camera cut-out, as the camera itself will reportedly still be visible, but it could allow Apple to reduce the size of it down to a small punch-hole; like we’ve seen on many Android phones (which don’t have Face ID components to contend with).
The Elec claims that this change will initially only come to the Pro models, and that this too is just a stopgap, with the ultimate goal being able to hide the selfie camera under the screen too, so there’s no cut-out or other interruption in the display.
The site doesn’t give an indication of when Apple might achieve that. It’s something we’ve already seen on some Android phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, but the implementation there is imperfect, with the camera still being slightly visible, and the photo quality suffering (the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra does a better job at concealment but still falls short on quality). So Apple will likely wait until the technology has been perfected.
What these changes would mean for the Dynamic Island's functionality is unclear. Technically, Apple could still feature a black bubble 'island' at the top of the display, but as the current implementation was created by necessity of having to disguise and make use of the existing camera cut-outs, doing so on a future iPhone that doesn't have any seems redundant.
Of course, we’d take these claims with a pinch of salt anyway, but it’s likely Apple’s goal is to shrink – and eventually remove – the cut-outs, it’s just a question of when. Other sources, such as reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, have previously pointed to 2024, adding fuel to the fire around the notion of the iPhone 16 Pro being the first to feature under-display Face ID.
Analysis: upgrades are likely coming to the vanilla models too
While it sounds like it will initially only be Pro models that get under-display Face ID, Apple isn't likely to forget about the standard and Plus models.
This report in The Elec states that the standard iPhone 15 and the iPhone 15 Plus will launch with a Dynamic Island this year, meaning that all four models would have that design, before the Pro versions of the iPhone 16 take another step next year.
That exact same claim was also recently made by Mark Gurman, who has a good track record for Apple information, so it’s likely to be the case.
That would mean the standard iPhone models get a Dynamic Island just one year after the Pro models, so we could see the same thing happen with the move to under-display Face ID – in which case you can expect the iPhone 17 and iPhone 17 Plus to get that. We wouldn’t expect to see any of these changes on the iPhone SE 4 though.
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James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.