Fingerprint scanning 002

The Home button has got to be one of the defining features of the iPhone’s clean rounded rectangular design. Whereas some other manufacturers add a bunch of physical buttons to their gadgets, Apple instead has moved all controls to the iOS software, leaving only the Home button on the iPhone’s face.

That could change with the iPhone 5S, the next iPhone refresh expected later this year. If a new rumor is to be believed, Apple will for the first time replace the iPhone’s Home button – prone to failure after long periods of use – with its capacitive counterpart.

This isn’t new: many Android handsets have touch-enabled “buttons” like Samsung’s Galaxy S series, for example. Apple’s innovation, the story goes, involves using sapphire crystal to prevent scratches and dings and protect the integrated fingerprint sensor…

Taiwanese publication TechNews Tuesday (via Cult of Mac) quoted Apple supply chain sources who are adamant that Apple has opted to use sapphire crystal for the Home button on the iPhone 5S.

Analysts think fingerprint scanning is one of the killer features of the iPhone 5S. Just yesterday, PayPal said it expected the next iPhone to kill passwords once and for all by focusing on a more reliable and stronger fingerprint-based authentication method.

Replacing the current Home button with a non-moving counterpart wouldn’t be out of character for Apple. Remember, the company replaced the original iPod’s mechanical click wheel with a touch-sensitive variant on the second-generation model.

Notably, Apple currently uses sapphire crystal to protect the iPhone 5’s back camera lens from scratches.

(iPhone 5 (black, camera closeup 001)

Sapphire crystal has a hardness second only to diamond and is used because of its compatibility with optic sensors, Apple explains on the iPhone 5 web page:

Although the surface of the iSight camera is as clear as glass, it’s not made of glass. It’s actually sapphire crystal, whose hardness is second only to diamond on the scale of transparent materials. That means the surface of the lens is far less likely to scratch.

The rumor actually makes a whole lot of sense.

If Apple is to integrate fingerprint sensor right underneath the Home button, as rumored, while at the same time move to a capacitive touch-enabled Home button variant, protecting the whole sensitive assembly from physical damage would be prudent.

What do you think?

Do you see the iPhone 5S having an all-new capacitive Home button?

  • Idk

    • k

    • Boss

      Wish Apple would bring out a iPhone with 3D holographic coming out of the screen

  • iosPixel

    My only gripe with a fingerprint reader – The cost of repair. Bio Metrics are crazy expensive.

    • jose castro

      definitely. Unless they found a cheaper alternative.

  • Adil Hussain

    “iPhone 5S may sport sapphire crystal capacitive Home button with fingerprint sensor”

    It may, it may not, lets just wait 🙂

    • iosPixel

      I want there to be something that really captures me but despite these articles I’ve come to expect the same old upgrades.

      Hopefully reason enough enough for them to pull a finger out – I cant be alone.

  • Huntz

    Is it just me or do I see a lot of screen shots with 4:20 as the time.

    • jose castro

      must be a stoner haha

      • Huntz


      • i think it was some easter egg, but everyone are still using the same stock picture 😀

  • I really hope this change takes place.

  • Boss

    Wish they would make the home button smaller and the phone shorter it takes up too much space

  • Jaye

    I do not like the idea of replacing the home button..

  • i might seem a little crazy saying that.. but that means that the next time you get your iphone stolen, they will beat you to a pulp, use the fingerprint sensor and change the biometrics to suit their needs…
    It is a lot easier and more importantly faster than threatening someone to get their passcode…

  • Thanks for this article Christian, I think i would like this and it might explain the delay and possible push back of release of the next generation. I was curious if you would like this.

  • I hope so much the 5S and iOS 7 bring out something new, innovative and different. I thought about it and I would be a shame to switch to Android after spending so much on iOS and Cydia in the past 3 years. Fingers crossed…

    • SpongeBob SquarePants

      You will come back from Android we all do

    • I agree, nothing would be worse for Apple than to release the iPhone 5S without an innovate feature like a fingerprint sensor. A slight spec. upgrade won’t cut it. Apple is starting to be perceived as losing their innovation.

      It would explain why it’s taking a little longer than expected to release the iPhone 5S.

      • What do you mean longer than expected? The iPhone 5 isn’t even a year old.

  • I see a problem with this. We’re losing physical buttons which will make broken phones harder to service. How are we going to get the phone into DFU now if something goes haywire? Cant use the volume button without a samsung patent war

    • It’s unlikely that any new iPhone will have a bootROM exploit. All the jailbreaks for new devices are userland and don’t require DFU (Absinthe and Evasi0n). If something goes haywire there could be a dedicated button, although that’s unlikely to happen

  • I hate speculation

  • Matt Ryan

    Just get rid of the home button like the nexus 4. More space for screen.

  • I think if they are going to do such a BIG hardware change they are going to name it something a little bit more acceptible like the iPhone 6 because to be honest the only improvements on the s models are camera upgrades and proccesor upgrades.

  • heck yes….!!! 🙂 if the lower area works as a trackpad..!! i am in 🙂
    i trust in Jony ive all the way 🙂

  • Must be bigger than actual home button because , there are many big fingers to scan.

  • every one loves finger print security on iphone…

  • Yes …a homebutton with an apple on it with fingerprint sensor.2sec recognizing and apple on the homescreen should glow 5 secs..would be very nice …but never will…

  • Why not make a homebutton out of wood.After 2 years burn it and replace… and with a knife i can cut a apple on it or my name….who needs a fingerprint sensor…

  • Gorgonphone

    finger print sensor will be cool and apple wi;l say they are first etc.. but its actually not that exciting … but again this is an “S” model so w should not be expecting much at all..

  • charlie feathers

    Seriously, how much need does the average user have for Bio Metrics/finger print scanner on their iphones? Also, if this does happen what will it mean for jailbreaking? How will getting a device into DFU mode take place then? I know the devs could find a way around that but I still think it’s a bad idea! I’ll stick with slide to unlock with an option for a password feature thank you.

  • I really liked the concept of having a “clickable” trackpad type home button at the bottom of iPhone. It could sense touch, but also be clickable and have the touch sensor turned off so as to not accidentally wake the iPhone in certain scenarios. Other wise, a touch functional home button would be great!

  • I think I’ve heard this before..

  • I hardly believe Apple would introduce such a distinctive and milestone change to their ‘S’ model; this might probably hit their future devices but certainly not on the i5S as it should be an upgrade from its predecessor rather than a full hardware redesign.
    Also, I’m not sure I’d be happy with the change, I never had a problem with the physical home button and I’ve used my device for more than three years. Who knows though, I guess it may be up to getting used to stuff as it comes out. 🙂

    • Well, Siri was supposed to be a distinctive and milestone change and it came with the 4S.

      • Right, but Siri is an addition and software-based, it didn’t replace any already existing hardware part like the Home button one would be. Eventually hardware changes, I think multiple different alternatives of the same hardware design could work but only one is -as usual- the one that hits the shelves. Who knows, maybe there was another prototype which could have worked pretty much as good as nowadays iPhone design but it never saw the light.

  • If this is the killer feature that the iPhone 5S will have, Apple can suck my dick. This is stupid. A killer feature isnt a fingerprint scanner.

    • Agreed, kind of, except… for the ‘suck-my-dick’ part. 😉

  • Don’t really like the idea of a capacitive home button; won’t be able to tell that I’m pressing the button without looking at the phone…perhaps they could a dent in the phone at the home button?

  • trumpet444

    Thats a big ol’ fat maybe. The 5S “may” make my breakfast for me and it “may” not

  • Not happening.

  • I wish they’d make the whole of the front screen out of sapphire crystal. My watch has a sapphire crystal screen and its 5 years old and is absolutely flawless.