Editor's Note: This content was originally published on
by Louis Bedigian.
) is experimenting with an idea that could eliminate the need for
the iPhone's home button, preventing future repairs for the device.
The home button is highly regarded as one of the iPhone's most
problematic components. A
) search for "
iPhone broken home button
" retrieved 24.5 million results versus a search for "
iPhone broken antenna
," which retrieved only 1.6 million results.
The issue is so common that there are literally
(if not thousands) of pages dedicated to helping users replace or
repair their damaged home buttons.
Apple could prevent these problems -- and eliminate another moving
part -- by replacing the home button with a flat, touch-sensitive
area that performed the same action.
According to a
Cult of Mac
translation of a report by Taiwanese tech publication TechNews,
supply chain sources claim that the next iPhone will include a
"sapphire crystal capacitive touch home button that incorporates a
new fingerprint sensor."
The sapphire crystal would be used to prevent the likelihood that
scratches will tarnish the fingerprint sensor, which could prevent
it from functioning properly.
When building the iPhone 5, Apple reportedly used sapphire crystals
to protect the rear camera from a barrage of scratches. That
feature was an important part of maintaining the iPhone's ability
to take quality, scratch-free pictures.
From a cost perspective, it is unknown how the sapphire crystal and
accompanying fingerprint sensor might increase Apple's
Apple has been faced with diminishing margins, as every iPhone
costs more to produce than the last. At the same time, investors
are pushing for Apple to increase its margins -- a task that has
proved to be all but impossible.
Take the iPad Mini, for example. It is significantly cheaper than
the full-size iPad and has been less profitable than its
predecessors. In the long run, however, the iPad Mini is expected
to sell more units than the full-size model ever could. Thus, the
Mini is the more valuable product -- but investors might not see it
By building a cheaper iPhone, Apple likely has a similar goal: to
sell more smartphones than ever before. If its margins are reduced,
however, investors may have a difficult time coping with Apple's
While the iPhone 5S or iPhone 6 may include the fingerprint sensor,
the lower-cost iPhone is likely to stick to the familiar home
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