Opinion

Thoughts on the Galaxy S8’s fingerprint sensor: What’s the fuss all about?

Many Samsung fans were up in arms when it was confirmed that the Galaxy S8’s fingerprint sensor is placed at the back, alongside the camera. Some of us here at SamMobile were extremely critical of this, too, but I don’t personally agree with all of the flak that Samsung is having to take because of this decision.

This is the first time that Samsung has placed the sensor here, and it had no other option. Optical fingerprint sensors aren’t ready for primetime, and it had to free up space for that gorgeous Infinity Display.

The company hasn’t done anything unusual. Rivals like LG and Huawei placed the fingerprint sensor on some of their smartphones at the back a long time ago. The only difference is that none of them positioned the sensor as close to the rear camera as Samsung has. This is what concerns most potential customers. They feel that they will end up smudging the camera lens every time they want to unlock their phone.

Galaxy S8 owners might find it relatively easier to use the fingerprint sensor, but prospective Galaxy S8+ buyers may be concerned about having to stretch a bit too much to use the sensor. I’ve been using the Galaxy S8+ for a few weeks now and have configured the fingerprint sensor as the preferred screen lock type.

This is my main device so you can imagine that it’s locked and unlocked countless times every single day when I’m out rushing to get things done and even when I’m fumbling for my phone in bed at night with the lights out and no glasses. I have a habit of placing my phone face down, be it any surface, so my index finger naturally stretches up to touch the sensor as I hold the phone to pick it up and face it towards me.

I can tell you this much: You get used to it. Using a fingerprint sensor on the back of a big device like the Galaxy S8+ might appear to be daunting, but it really isn’t. You will get used to the new placement within a couple of days and after that, it won’t even register as a change.

It certainly helps that there’s a metal rim surrounding the fingerprint sensor. The rim acts as a guide so that you easily know precisely where you have to place your finger to unlock the device.

Granted, if you normally place your phone face up, it will take longer to get used to the new placement. That’s because it’s not possible to unlock the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ when the handset is placed on its back. You have to pick up the phone first and then place your finger on the sensor.

Samsung has tried to make the repositioned fingerprint sensor more useful by adding the finger sensor gestures feature. It’s buried in the Settings app and isn’t enabled by default, but it does make a difference. Here’s how you find and enable this feature.

Once enabled, the feature allows you to swipe down and up to open and close the notification shade respectively. So the couple of seconds that you would have lost having to pick up the device first are recovered when you quickly open the notification shade with a swipe of your finger without having to reach out to the top of the display.

You’ll also notice that the fingerprint sensor is faster than it has ever been on any previous Samsung device. It’s smarter as well. It can read the fingerprint from any angle. So even if you registered your fingerprint vertically, the sensor can read it horizontally. It’s the little changes that show Samsung has been considerate in its repositioning of the fingerprint sensor.

Thus, in my opinion, all of the fuss about the fingerprint sensor being in the wrong place is just that: fuss. It’s not something that negatively impacts the user experience or proves to be a nuisance if you’re using the Galaxy S8 as your daily driver. Like all changes, it takes getting used to, and it becomes second nature before you know it.

I’d trade the home button mounted fingerprint sensor for the gorgeous Infinity Display any day. I’m glad that Samsung did what it did to bring us a device that really takes you by surprise when you hold it for the first time. Fewer devices have that ability to excite you and for me, the Galaxy S8 takes the cake.

Do share your thoughts about this in the comments below. Also, do let us know which is your preferred screen lock type for the Galaxy S8 by voting in our poll.

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