In Screen Fingerprint Sensor: All you need to know

After the massive touch ID revolution by Apple with the launch of iPhone 5s, there have been numerous security enhancement features that other smartphone manufacturers have brought forward. (Here we discuss mainly of the In Screen Fingerprint Sensor) Touch ID, Face Unlock, Iris Scanning and a few more similar combinations have completely revolutionized how we unlock our smartphones. This article is mainly about the latest unlocking-trend booming in smartphones these days- the in-display Fingerprint Scanner. I’ll try to clear every misconception about the same and would also put forward my views, taking into consideration its sustainable nature in future devices.

The Trend

Just like how various mobile manufacturers are getting into the face unlock business after OnePlus’s success with the same on the OnePlus 5, brands have started adopting new trends in any way possible. It started with the removal of the 3.5mm jack from devices and goes on with trends like a bezel-less display, the notch design and now, the in-display fingerprint reader. The concept of the in-display fingerprint reader was brought forward by an initial collaboration of Synaptics and Vivo. Synaptics helped Vivo with integrating an optical sensor based CMOS sensor that was installed on a small portion of the display. And whenever someone would touch that particular part of the screen (when the device is locked), the sensor would light up and capture the biometrics, deciding whether to unlock the device or not.

How does this work?


The sensor is made so thin that it is adjustable under the glass of the device. The screen of the device needs to be an OLED panel and this is probably the reason why the Samsung Galaxy S9 was still not sporting the in-display sensor. When the finger is placed on the sensor, the CMOS sensor lights up and captures the fingerprint. Although the sensor is extremely thin and well settled under, the videos online and a few live examples show that the devices are comparatively slower in the unlocking process when compared to the normal fingerprint sensors available on various smartphones. For now, only a couple of devices offer the in-display fingerprint scanner feature- Vivo X21 and the Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition.

What is the future of this technology?

We can clearly see that the in-display fingerprint reader is extremely slow as compared to the normal fingerprint sensors out there. Although, we continue to see various smartphone manufacturers taking an active attempt at bringing forward this technology to the users. Vivo is also working on a Vivo APEX project that would have an enhanced, improved in-display fingerprint reader. The main difference here is, instead of just a small portion of the screen being covered in the sensor, bottom half of the device would then be sensor covered. Meaning, you could place your finger anywhere on the bottom half of the smartphone for it to unlock.

In my opinion, having a full display/half display sensor placement isn’t a smart idea as there would be an increased number of accidental unlocks and hence leading to device malfunction.

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