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The Galaxy S8 won’t be able to deal with the iPhone 8’s killer feature

Published Mar 13th, 2017 6:13PM EDT

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The Galaxy S8 is supposed to be officially unveiled in just over two weeks, but we already know everything there is to know about it thanks to the plethora of leaks that hit the web recently. But a new report explains why the Galaxy S8 will not be able to match its biggest rival this year when it comes to a brand new feature.

Even before the first Galaxy S8 rumors trickled out, the iPhone 8 was rumored to feature a large display that would occupy almost the entire available space on the front side of the handset. Apple would kill the home button, without killing any of its features, reports said, including the Touch ID fingerprint sensor that would be embedded in the display.

The Galaxy S8 rumors that followed indicated that Samsung would take a similar approach, and actually beat Apple to market with an all-screen phone design that whose screen would also incorporate a fingerprint sensor.

However, the closer we got to MWC, it became clear that the Galaxy S8’s screen would not have fingerprint-reading powers. Instead, Samsung chose to place the sensor on the back side, next to the camera.

A new report from The Investor says that Samsung really wanted the feature, but had to ditch it as it ran out of time.

Apparently, Samsung partnered with Synaptics, but the latter was not able to complete the technology in time.

“Samsung poured resources into Synaptics’ fledgling technology last year, but the results were frustrating,” a source familiar with the matter revealed.

“With the production imminent, the company had to decide to relocate the fingerprint scanning home button to the back of the device at the last minute.”

Apple, meanwhile, hinted in various patents that it’s been devising different solutions that could add fingerprint-sensing features to any screen, without affecting the screen’s main purpose, which is to display various UI elements while the phone is in operation. Reports also claimed that Apple is developing its own touchscreen-based fingerprint sensor, without outside help.

That said, it’s unclear what solution Apple will use to let iPhone 8 buyers unlock their devices and use Apple Pay by simply placing a finger on the display or a special portion of it.

According to The Investor, even if Apple does manage to one-up Samsung in this particular regard, some are still cautious about this type of technology.

“It is still extremely difficult to develop transparent sensors and components to be used for an all-screen smartphone,” an official at a local display company said. “If those technologies are fully developed, it would be a big leap forward within the smartphone industry.”

The Galaxy S8 is also expected to feature an iris sensor and advanced facial recognition software that would let users unlock the device in less than a tenth of a second. The iPhone 8, meanwhile, is also expected to offer an iris-scanning solution of its own.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.