It looks more likely that the next iPhone will have a full-facial display as Apple has applied to patent a capacitive fingerprint sensor that can be coupled to the display layer, thus enabling Touch ID to be used on most, if not all parts of the screen.
The key seems to be attaining a usable fingerprint image from the sensing units and how far those units can get from the touch layer.
“[Such] separation may lead to blurring of the electric field produced by the finger and reduced resolution of the capacitive fingerprint sensor,” reads the detail description of the patent.
The technology at the kernel of the patent seems to be an electrostatic lens that focuses the field of the fingerprint hitting the contact layer and can keep it focused all the way down to the sensing layer. That’s what should make it possible for a fingerprint to register through a top touch layer, then a thick display layer before finally hitting the sensing layer.
Of course, having seen the iPhone 7’s capacitive Home Button, you’d think that implementing this technology would be the next big thing for Apple, right? We’ll see come next year.