The Galaxy S10 might be the first phone packing an in-glass fingerprint sensor, a report said earlier this week, but it’ll be hardly the only such device if the leak is accurate.
Vivo was the first company to launch an all-screen smartphone with a fingerprint sensor embedded into the display, and Porsche Design teamed up with Huawei to release a P20 Pro version that packs two fingerprint sensors, one under the screen, and one on the back.
Samsung, meanwhile, was rumored to be working on the technology for years. The Galaxy S8, Note 8, S9, and Note 9 were all rumored to have fingerprint sensors built right into the screen, but Samsung kept postponing the feature. It turns out that making such screen isn’t easy, and the technology wasn’t where it should have been.
Smartphone makers looking to adopt in-glass fingerprint sensors may be looking at a couple of issues. First of all, in-glass sensors might be slower than traditional ones, and nobody wants that. Secondly, yield issues may affect the phone’s production schedule, and companies can’t afford that. There’s also the cost to take into account. Like any new tech, such fingerprints sensors might be more expensive to manufacture initially.
Thankfully, it looks like optical fingerprint sensors packed into screens worked as advertised right now, and we have a great video to highlight the technology. Famous tech YouTuber Marquees Brownlee set out to test the Vivo X21 and see how its in-display fingerprint sensor works.
As you’ll see in the clip, the sensor works just as expected for the most part. It’s slightly slower than Touch ID on the iPhone, which further explains why the technology isn’t widely adopted yet. But it’ll probably be significantly improved in the following years.
The sensor also has some of the limitations of its iPhone counterpart. Wet or dirty fingers will hinder its functionality, so make sure you wipe first. But the sensor works flawlessly through screen protectors, including privacy-enhancing polarized ones and broken protectors, and even if the glass itself is damaged or severely scratched.
If Samsung does go forward with in-display fingerprint sensors for the Galaxy S10, it may come up with an even better solution than Vivo’s Synaptics reader. The company has been rumored to work on its own designs, including variations that rely on ultrasounds rather than optics to read fingerprints through the glass. Apple, for what it’s worth, also has patents detailing the same technology, but the iPhone maker is probably not likely to change its stance on fingerprint sensors now that Face ID is here.