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iPhone 5S could be delayed by fingerprint sensor, says analyst

Ashleigh Allsopp | April 16, 2013
The iPad mini 2 and Apple's rumoured low-cost iPhone could also be suffering from delays.

Apple's next iPhone, dubbed iPhone 5S or iPhone 6, could arrive later than expected due to development issues surrounding the fingerprint sensor, an analyst has said. The iPad mini 2 and Apple's rumoured low-cost iPhone could also be suffering from delays.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has accurately predicted Apple product launches in the past, said in a research note on Thursday that Apple's planned fingerprint sensor poses multiple technical challenges that could cause delays to upcoming devices.

"Apple has to work out how to prevent interference from the black and white coating material under the cover glass," he said. "Apple is the first to attempt this function and technology, and time is needed to find the right coating material, which will likely affect iPhone 5S shipments."

Earlier this year, Kuo predicted that Apple's next-generation iPhone will have a built-in fingerprint sensor, which could be situated beneath the Home button, as well as an improved camera and an A7 chip. 

The fingerprint sensor, which could be the result of Apple's acquisition of AuthenTec last year, could be used with Apple's Passbook app to improve security for mobile payments. It could also remove the need for usernames and passwords, allowing quicker and more secure authentication. 

The development of iOS 7 could also be contributing to the delays of new Apple products, said Kuo. He expects that Apple needs more time to test its next-generation mobile operating system, particularly the software elements that will work with the fingerprint scanner to carry out new functions.

This month, reports suggested that iOS 7 could also be delayed due to a significant user interface overhaul under the leadership of Apple's Jony Ive. 

Apple could be having some difficulties with the casing of its cheaper iPhone, Kuo has suggested. He expects that the low-cost iPhone, which is rumoured to be launching in order for Apple to address emerging markets such as China and India, will have a slimmer plastic casing that Apple is unfamiliar with using.

"The slimmer casing may make it more difficult to ramp up production yields of coating and surface treatment, and could slow down the shipment timetable," Kuo said.

As for the second-generation iPad mini, Kuo believes that the Retina panels Apple is planning to use for the 7in tablet will make manufacturing more difficult, which could also cause delays.

With all of these delays taken into consideration, Kuo expects that Apple's iPhone and iPad shipments growth will be less than 10 per cent in the third quarter of 2013, which is less than the market consensus of 30 to 40 per cent based on expected new products.

 

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