Apple's newest range of iPhones - the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR - all use Face ID to unlock, as opposed to most modern smartphones which use fingerprint sensors – however the iPhone 11 could use Touch ID too, with a huge Apple-flavored twist.
According to patents found by Patently Apple, the company is working on a new kind of in-screen fingerprint sensor for its devices that would let you put your finger anywhere on the screen to unlock your phone, instead of just in one spot like most phones require.
The Touch ID system would work through 'acoustic imaging', so waves sent from under the phone display would recognize your fingerprint wherever you put it on the screen.
- What do we know about the new iPhone 11?
- Is the iPhone 8 Plus Apple's best older phone?
- Check out our thoughts on the iPhone XS Max
This means that, instead of having to put your finger in a particular place like for most in-screen fingerprint sensors, you could put it anywhere, be that at the top of the screen or at the sides, and the waves would still know you were trying to unlock your phone.
If this system was used it could really speed up the way you access your phones, and make opening your device a lot more natural.
Curiously, the patent also notes the system could work for your ear, but we're not sold on the idea of Ear ID in any product at the moment. It's plausible this could be incorporated into some kind of system that unlocks your phone while you're on a call, but we're struggling to think of ways that would be useful.
Usually when we see a patent for a neat feature like this we take it with a pinch of salt, because a rough sketch only proves a company is considering an idea, not that it will use it.
We've actually also heard Apple is considering a system of unlocking that scans your veins in your face to unlock, so this new Touch ID could just be another idea Apple is throwing around.
However, while Apple's patent was only published on April 30, 2019, it was actually filed near the end of 2016, so it isn't outside the realms of possibility that we could see it in the iPhone 11.
We're expecting to see the iPhone 11 at the end of 2019, at Apple's yearly iPhone launch event, but we're seeing a steady drip of leaks, rumors and patents already, so stay tuned to TechRadar for all the latest iPhone news.
Sign up for Black Friday email alerts!
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the TechRadar team.
Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.
He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.