Apple’s iPhone 5S Launch ‘Delayed by Fingerprint Scanner’

The iPhone 5S could be delayed until after June because of problems with a new fingerprint-scanning feature designed by Apple to replace the passcode-based unlocking system on previous models.

The expected iPhone 5S will see an extended delay in delivery, while iPad Mini demand is softening, and Retina MacBook Air is coming. Photo: Jay Rogers/Flickr

The iPhone 5S, in true iPhone “S” edition tradition, looks set to be primarily a spec-bump up from last years iPhone 5, with rumour having it that it’s only defining new feature is a potential fingerprint scanner.

However, that addition could turn out to prove costly for Apple, as a new report is stating that its inclusion could lead to delays for the smartphone.

A supply chain source in Taiwan said Apple was trying to find a coating material that did not interfere with the fingerprint sensor, and this may be causing a delay.

“We have previously written that iPhone5S, despite an accelerated design phase, was modestly delayed from June to July,” wrote Citi’s Glen Yeung in a research note Sunday.

“With input from Citi’s Taiwan-based technology research team…we now believe that a further 1- to 2-month delay (from July to August or September) is possible, likely stemming from volume production issues.”

In addition to the 5S, suppliers say Apple is also developing a cheaper model, which can appeal to lower-income buyers in growth markets such as China and India. A supplier source in Japan said small-scale production of display panels will begin in May, ramping up to mass production in June.

An Apple supply chain source in Japan said those in the industry often jokingly refer to the company as “Poison Apple” because of its hard-to-meet high standards and low price expectations.

“‘Apple can do no wrong’ can only work until Apple does wrong,” said Roger Kay, president of researcher and consultancy Endpoint Technologies Associates. “It’s like the rubber band effect. The more you stretch it, the more snap you get coming back.”

CEO Tim Cook stressed on the last quarterly earnings conference call that it’s difficult to paint a complete picture of its production process from “a few data points”, reports Reuters.

Apple has been expected to introduce fingerprint-scanning technology since it acquired biometrics firm AuthenTec last year.

Last month, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said his firm expected the results of that takeover to be revealed this summer with the new iPhone 5S, says the Telegraph.

He said: “We expect [that] iPhone 5S will have a fingerprint chip under the Home button, improving security and usability.”

A Retina MacBook Air would mean that most of Apple’s MacBook line would be available with high-resolution Retina displays. So far, only 13.3-inch and 15.4-inch MacBook Pro models offer that display.

Other rumours surrounding the iPhone 5S have also included the possibility of a 12MP camera being featured, as well as faster processor speeds and the arrival of iOS 7.

Further delays could mar the upcoming release dates of the iPhone 5S, its low-cost version and the rumoured iPhone 6, analysts said.

The iPhone refresh, according to Glen Yeung of Citigroup Capital Markets, could come as late as September this year or two months earlier from KGI Securities’ prediction last week that the iOS smartphone would only start selling on November, informs the International Business Times.

Yeung also expressed concern about “softening” iPad Mini demand. And he expects both Retina and non-Retina versions of the iPad Mini 2.

“We remain concerned about iPad Mini demand in light of flattening production in 3Q13 (third quarter 2013)…potentially two models in 4Q13: Retina Mini 2 and non-Retina Mini 2.”

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