Is Apple Abandoning the iPhone 5S Fingerprint Sensor?

Iphone 5Have Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) fingerprint sensor plans hit a snag?  Apple has been rumored to be working on a fingerprint sensor ever since it bought AuthenTec, a mobile and network security company, last summer.

Several analysts have also suggested that Apple is developing a fingerprint sensor for its devices. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has repeatedly predicted that the iPhone 5S will include a fingerprint sensor. Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty has speculated that this fingerprint sensor could be used by Apple as a secure method for processing electronic payments.

However, a recent report from Patently Apple suggests that Apple users may have to wait longer than expected for this biometric identification technology. According to Patently Apple’s unnamed industry sources, Apple has been encountering production yield difficulties for the fingerprint recognition sensor chips. In other words, not enough of these specialized chips are being produced to make the fingerprint sensor a viable option for the upcoming next-generation iPhone.

This fingerprint sensor chip shortage may also be related to a recently reported delay in the release of the iPhone 5S. Last week, a research note from Kuo via Apple Insider stated that the iPhone 5S may have a limited availability after its initial launch due to unspecified production difficulties. Interestingly, Kuo made no mention of the fingerprint sensor in his latest research note.

Although it may be little consolation for Apple users who were looking forward to the inclusion of a fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5S, it appears that Samsung (SSNLF.PK) is also being impacted by the shortage of fingerprint sensor chips. Patently Apple reports that Samsung abandoned its plans to use a fingerprint sensor for the Galaxy Note III due to the same production issue.

Besides the chip production problem, Patently Apple has previously reported that Apple has also struggled to find a suitable fingerprint sensor coating. Many of the coatings that Apple has tried to use so far have interfered with the operation of the fingerprint sensor.

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