The move comes just months after the iPhone maker acquired mobile security firm AuthenTec, which holds an array of fingerprint recognition patents.
Apple's recent patent filing - detailed by Patently Apple - describes a hardware "window" that can become selectively "transparent or opaque", to reveal an "image capture device, a strobe flash, a biometric sensor, a light sensor, a proximity sensor, or a solar panel" as a means of unlocking a handset.
AuthenTec has developed a patented swipe sensor system that reads the live layer of skin beneath the actual fingerprint to make it accurate "for everyone every time".
In theory, this could enable users to unlock their devices by placing or swiping a single digit against the screen, and have specific commands mapped to another finger for one-touch execution.
Apple is yet to officially outline its plans for AuthenTec, but there were rumors that the iPhone 5 was to feature its biometric security ahead of its release.
Watch Digital Spy's video review of the iPhone 5 below: