The analyst who has an excellent track record says that Apple is investigating two methods of adding Force Touch to the iPhone. The most likely one to get implemented at this point in time is a FPC-made capacitive Force Touch sensor under the backlight, laminated with metal shielding.
Unlike the sensor in the Apple Watch and MacBook, Apple is looking to measure the contact area where your finger presses down to determine pressure.
We believe that iPhone’s Force Touch sensor doesn’t directly detect the pressure applied by fingers. Instead, it monitors the contact area on which the finger touches the screen to decide how big the pressure is.
There are two possible structural designs for Force Touch from a technology viewpoint. The Force Touch sensor can either be placed between the cover lens and the In-cell touch panel or under the In-cell touch panel’s backlight. In the first position, the technological challenge lies with how to produce the transparent Force Touch sensor; in the second position, the challenge is how to reduce signal interference from in-cell touch panel. Our understanding of the technology is that producing a transparent Force Touch sensor is more difficult, so the chances are the new iPhone this year will opt for the second position.
Kuo believes that Apple will probably change the design of Force Touch again next year to remove the metal shielding. While this will improve things for users, it creates uncertainty for suppliers of the modules (TPK and GIS) and metal shielding (Minebea, Hi-P, Jabil).
Notably, Kuo says the changes are so significant that Apple could call the new smartphone the 'iPhone 7', rather than the 'iPhone 6s' as is traditionally expected. Kuo also said that it's unlikely a 4-inch model will be released in Q3.
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