iPhone: Fingerprint scanner rumored and an 'iPhone 5C' model

iPhone fingerprint scanner is coming. New rumors suggest that the next iPhone – the 'iPhone 5S' – will include a fingerprint scanner. There are also rumors that Apple will release a separate, lower-cost iPhone called the 'iPhone 5C.'

Yves Herman/Reuters/File
New iPhone rumors suggest a fingerprint scanner, as well as a lower-cost "iPhone 5C" model in multiple colors. Here, a customer holds an iPhone 5 and an iPhone 4S side by side in Brussels.

It’s almost August – which means rumors about the new iPhone are coming at a good clip. Though Apple has made no announcement about unveiling a new iPhone in September, it’s widely expected to do just that, and new reports suggest that the latest version (which is being referred to as the iPhone 5S) will include a fingerprint scanner. There’s also evidence that Apple will release a separate, less expensive “iPhone 5C” model with a plastic case.

Information about the fingerprint scanner comes from Apple rumor site 9to5Mac, which quotes an iPhone developer who dug into a leaked version of the iOS 7 beta software.

The software includes a folder called “BiometricKitUI,” which suggests some kind of input that takes advantage of a user’s fingerprint. The folder mentions “fingerprint status,” and describes a print scan that involves a user touching the Home button with their thumb. 9to5Mac cites an unnamed “source familiar with the development of the new iPhone” who says the fingerprint scanner is meant to unlock the phone – though it could also be used for other things, such as making mobile payments more secure.

This folder’s presence doesn’t necessarily mean anything – but it’s worth mentioning that last year Apple bought Authentec, a security company that builds fingerprint sensors and encryption technology. An iPhone with a fingerprint sensor would be a boon for password-management and financial companies, which would (theoretically) be able to use it to make sensitive information carried on the device that much more secure.

Also on the hardware front, rumors of a plastic “iPhone 5C” model have popped up in several different places this week. On Tuesday, case manufacturer Elago posted a set of cases on Amazon.com that purport to fit the new iPhone, though none are available for purchase. Meanwhile, Chinese phone site WeiPhone posted a picture of what looks like retail packaging marked with “iPhone 5C” decals. French site Nowhereelse, which first noticed the image, speculates that the “C” stands for “colors,” in deference to an earlier rumor that the lower-cost iPhone will come in several different hues, much like the iPod.

These rumors certainly don’t come from ironclad sources, but taken together they paint a believable picture of what we might see from Apple this fall. They join earlier rumors that the new iPhone will sport an improved camera that will take dramatically better pictures in low light, and new voice features including better dictation.

Readers, what’s your take on these rumors? What would you most like to see in a new iPhone model? Let us know in the comments section below.

For more tech news, follow Jeff on Twitter: @jeffwardbailey.

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