Will a fingerprint sensor be the killer feature in the iPhone 5S?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: August 12, 2013

If the rumors are true, and considering how close we are to the expected announcement date for the next iPhone, a lot of people are assuming they are, then we're just under a month away from the brand new iPhone. As it stands, I think the September 10 announcement date is probably the most exciting rumor going around right now. Why? Because now I've got a tentative date to circle on my calendar (with a pencil, so I can erase it just in case).

It also means that I get to see another phone announcement, right after Samsung unveils the next Galaxy Note device. So, that's a pretty exciting start to September, if you ask me.

Over the weekend, I was looking over a lot of the more common rumors that we've been hearing recently. I noticed that some of them, like details focused on the iPhone 5S's camera, have started to slack off as we near the launch window, but some of them are just beginning to pick up steam all over again.

Touching on the former for a moment, those rumors regarding the upgraded camera in the iPhone 5S have all but halted. If you'll recall, earlier in the year we were hearing a lot about a camera that would land around the 12- or 13-megapixel range, and would overall be an improvement over the 8MP shooter in the current iPhone 5. Those rumors have quieted, in favor of a dual-LED set up near the camera, which just recently leaked again.

Not surprising, though, are the rumors of the larger iPhone disappearing. Like clockwork, really.

As I mentioned earlier, though, some rumors are starting to pick up the pace again, which could lend some credence to their plausibility. And, as I've said in the past, I think Apple's focus on security with iOS 7 and iCloud also makes these rumors truer than ever before.

Word that Apple is gearing up to launch the iPhone 5S with a fingerprint sensor right in the Home button. We're actually hearing that the Home button will look a bit different, too. We've been hearing about Apple developing something like this for awhile, and with their recent purchase of Authentec, it's no more possible than ever before.

The running theory is that the sensor would make it a bit more secure to unlock your iPhone 5S, along with other security-focused iCloud-based features. Which would go hand-in-hand with the new iCloud Keychain, for just that extra bit of security.

I think security is a big focus for mobile moving forward, especially from the manufacturers who build the devices, so this move from Apple isn't all that surprising in the slightest. However, truthfully, I wasn't all that excited for something like that. Fingerprint sensors aren't new, and they aren't new for mobile devices, but they have certainly dropped off the mainstream map since 2011.

With that being said, I realized that this particular inclusion will probably be the defining feature for the iPhone 5S over the iPhone 5. The new Home button, which is also rumored to be made out of Sapphire glass and be convex rather than concave, will probably be the iPhone 5S's Siri. The exclusive, stand-out feature over the previous model.

Is it good enough? That will be the ultimate question, and one we won't be able to get a firm grasp on until well after the launch of the next iPhone. And that's if this rumor of added security actually pans out. Siri has a wide range of usages, especially for those who want to use their voice to do things on their phone. However, a security feature like a fingerprint sensor could very well just be something that some people turn off.

It could be a feature that many people consider a gimmick, and nothing more.

Does that justify a yearly upgrade from consumers? That'll be up to you, after you see the final design, the final list of specifications, and how the competition stacks up. But, right now, I want to know what you think of the rumors regarding Apple's fingerprint sensor. Do you think it's a good idea? Do you think it's something the iPhone needs, or something you'd use? Let me know what you think!

Image via Redmond Pie

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