New TDDI chips could eliminate need for Home button in future iPhones

Future iPhones may not have a Home button thanks to TDDI technology.

According to a report from Taiwanese newspaper DigiTimes, Apple may be looking to integrate TDDI chips into future iOS devices, which could potentially make the traditional Home button obsolete.

The publication's sources indicated that TDDI (Touch and Display Driver Integration) chips could allow incorporation of a fingerprint sensor within the display layer that could replace the physical Home button: "The TDDI single-chip solutions will also come with integrated fingerprint sensors... The integrated design would fit into future iPhone designs – models with ultra-thin and ultra-narrow displays, and with a whole plane design eliminating the Home button."

TDDI technology only recently came about, with the first chips produced by Synaptics Inc. back in March. By that company's forecast, over 50% of smartphones will feature display integrated touch screens by the end of 2015.

By combining the two layers (the touch sensor layer and the display layer), smartphone manufacturers will be able to achieve slimmer form factors. With the integrated fingerprint sensor, Apple could reduce the dimensions of its handsets while keeping the same display sizes by getting rid of the Home button, in addition to making the device slimmer. According to Synaptic, TDDI could also result in brighter displays or longer battery life at the same brightness because there are fewer layers to power.

The technology could change the industry landscape as well. With the touch sensor and display integrated into a single chip, produced by a single manufacturer, that's one less player on the field, which simplifies the supply chain and could lower the overall cost. DigiTimes points out that Apple has produced CPUs in-house and likely intends to expand its in-house development capabilities.