The first “full screen iPhone” could arrive in 2024

When will we see a new iPhone with a completely unobstructed screen? In 2024, according to a prediction from the well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. At the time, Kuo says, Apple could be happy to move both its front-facing camera and Face ID under the screen for its advanced devices, which would make the iPhone 16 Pro the likely first candidate for such an upgrade.

Kuo made this prediction in one and by tweets, linking back to comments he had made last month, saying that Apple would probably not release any new iPhones with fingerprint readers under the screen in the next two years. (Kuo previously predicted that this could happen sometime in 2023 at the earliest.) The reason? Well, Kuo’s framing is that the demand for the return of Touch ID was mostly a response to the increase in mask wear. But since Apple got Face ID to work better with masks earlier this year, complaints about its usefulness have mostly disappeared.

This makes sense, I think. My own experience using Face ID with a mask has been good. Not great, but fine, which means I can live without Touch ID under the display. The more interesting question, though, is how Apple will manage to make a front-facing camera under the screen. (And not just a hollow camera, as predicted for this year’s iPhone 14.)

As my colleague Sam Byford noted in a review of under-display cameras in November 2021, technology is improving, but it has a way to go until it matches the quality of non-blurred lenses.

“The pictures you get are definitely usable most of the time. If you are not a big selfie person, or if you do not use your phone for Zoom calling, I think you could get away with it, ”writes Byford about under-display cameras from ZTE and Xiaomi. “The video quality is also poor because it is probably too much to demand that these phones perform the processing in real time.”

Kuo himself suggests that the solution will be improvements in ISP (Image Signal Processor) and image algorithms. As has been clear for many years now, the picture quality of a phone increasingly depends on digital processing, and Apple continues to deliver improvements in its own cameras year after year.

Kuo has also predicted that this year’s iPhone 14 will have an upgraded front-facing camera with autofocus features and a wider aperture. However, it is not clear what Apple will do with the necessary hardware for Face ID for this model. Some have suggested that it will be placed in a pill-shaped cutout before Apple is ready to move it under the screen.