Apple is set to launch a new iPhone that removes its Face ID facial recognition system and replaces it with an under-display fingerprint scanner.
As reported by the Global Times, the new iPhone, which is slated to be a more budget-friendly device tailored for the Chinese market, is ditching Face ID because the structured light laser emitter that it relies on is too expensive to incorporate while keeping the cost of the phone around 5,000 yuan ($731, £577), which is the price that the majority of the Chinese market shop at.
According to the Global Times report, Apple has pursued this new iPhone design as its market share in China has now dropped to just 9 per cent, which compares unfavourably to market leader Huawei with 34 per cent, and Vivo and Oppo with 19 and 18 per cent respectively. This weak position has apparently not being helped by the US-China trade war over the past 18 months.
"[Due to] rising competition with local rivals, the US company was anxious to reduce production costs as it cannot afford to lose the Chinese market," notes the report.
As to when this budget new iPhone will launch, no date has been forthcoming, so a 2019 launch alongside the new iPhone 11 range is definitely not nailed on. However, there have been rumours over the past year that Apple could launch a smaller-size, budget new iPhone, so a launch this year or, at the latest, 2020, certainly cannot be discounted.
The fact that while we have seen plenty of tantalizing concept leaks for the 2019 iPhone flagship, as well as more fanciful designs for an "iPhone Pro" handset, yet we haven't seen anything for this budget iPhone seems to indicate to us here at T3 that if it does exist it might not be arriving this September.
After all, among the iPhone 11 range leaks there has been the iPhone 11r, which is slated to be a follow-up to the iPhone XR, and the budget third phone option. Could this budget-conscious China-only new iPhone be the same or a slightly tweaked version of the iPhone 11r? Only time will tell.