The good news is that Apple will bring in-display Face ID to the iPhone, finally eliminating the distinctive “notch” at the top of the touchscreen. The bad news is that it’s reportedly not happening as soon as possible.
This means we’re still years away from an iPhone with a truly edge-to-edge display.
iPhone notch keeps shrinking but not disappearing
Apple reportedly wants to restore the iPhone screen to a smooth, uninterrupted, no-notch rectangle, as it was before the notch appeared in the iPhone X. Nearly all iPhone users have become reconciled — even oblivious — to the screen cutout since it debuted in 2017. But surely no one will complain when Apple replaces it with a truly edge-to-edge display.
However, the screen cutout is currently necessary to make room for front-facing sensors, including the selfie camera and Face ID scanners. But two reliable Apple tipsters agree that the iPhone 16 likely will deliver under-display Face ID.
Both Ming-Chi Kuo from TF International Securities and Ross Young from DisplaySearch predict that the facial sensors used by Apple’s biometric security system will move from the notch to under the display in the iPhone 16.
Wait for no-notch iPhone stretches for two+ years
A quick bit of math shows the problem here. The current Apple model is the iPhone 13, and the iPhone 14 is expected later in 2022. So the no-notch iPhone 16 isn’t coming until 2024.
Even worse, the delay supposedly isn’t a technical one. Kuo says in his prediction that, “this time schedule is less of a technical issue and more of a marketing purpose.”
That could mean that Apple is holding back in-screen Face ID until 2024, and keeping the screen cutout, so it can be sure the iPhone 16 sells well. Possibly, the company doesn’t think the iPhone 15 will need the boost from a no-notch design.
Another possibility is the theory that Apple is reluctant to give up the notch because it visually distinguishes its devices from the competition. Even a rough outline of a handset with a notch is clearly an iPhone. Apple even added a notch to MacBook Pro screens last year.
But before you get too steamed, Young doesn’t agree that the delay is about marketing. He was told by his sources that “under panel Face ID won’t likely meet the timing for 2023 mass production.”
Only half the battle
Obviously, an in-screen selfie camera will also be necessary to eliminate the notch. That’s already possible: Samsung builds an under-screen camera into the Galaxy Z Fold3 to eliminate its screen cutout. But the technology is clearly not ready for general use yet.
That said, if Apple waits until in 2024 to eliminate the notch by putting both the front-facing camera and Face ID under the iPhone screen, there are literally years for in-display cameras to improve.
In the meantime, the iPhone 14 Pro models allegedly will use a pair of hole punches in place of the notch when they launch in autumn 2022. But a change that is supposedly not happening is in-screen Touch ID.