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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obsydian
2 months 17 days ago
obsydian

Dreadful design position, i went back to caseless and everytime i do try, i think i’ll drop my phone, plus not good for my old tennis elbow. Also end up smudging my camera lens.

With the alcantara case even worse as bulkier for a one handed operation.

Dare i say i am getting used to the insecure iris scanner

seculic
2 months 17 days ago
seculic

The fingerprint sensor is in the worst place ever!!!

CoachTort
2 months 20 days ago
CoachTort

I wasn’t going to get the S8. Then Sammy had their 2-1 promo so I got it. I hate the location of the FP sensor, but the iris scanner works so well I don’t need the FP. It’s much faster than the Note 7 scanner was.

WP00
2 months 22 days ago
WP00

Sensor itself should’ve been glass. Makes it less prone to scratching and even gathering dirt.

karunrox
2 months 23 days ago
karunrox

I think every one is xpecting fingerprint sensor embedded inside screen. No issue in function. Sensor location cud hav been better place like middle of backside. Otherwise flawless.

ducy
2 months 23 days ago
ducy

I do not like fingerptint at the back!!
I hope next phone (S9) will have it at front!!

FXmAniac
2 months 23 days ago
FXmAniac

I personally don’t like the idea of placing fingerprint reader at the back of a phone. You can’t simply check your email or messages without picking up your phone from the desk, in order to unlock it. This will also “not work” if want your phone to remain locked when using a car phone holder. Sure you can get use to this “feature”, but it is inconvenient in so many ways. I would never buy a phone with a fingerprint on the back, if I had a choice.

Antykain
2 months 23 days ago
Antykain
Just adding my 2¢ concerning the S8 and the fingerprint sensor location.. I pre-ordered the S8+ back when it first became available, so I’ve been using my S8+ since day one. The fingerprint sensor, IMO, works great and have had no issues with it’s functionality or location. Sure, it took maybe a full day to get used to it coming from a Pixel XL.. but that was all. If that. Now I do not even think about when I am unlocking my S8+. It’s just as easy and quick as the Pixel XL was. I have no gripes about the… Read more »
madenx5
2 months 23 days ago
madenx5

I have my s8 since the 20 of april and been using the fingerprintscanner very offen and i dont how many times a day i unlock the my phone and i must say the fingerprintscanner on my s8 works extremly well it works ifen when you fingers smudge and full of dust and is very esay to get use to it that it on back just rigth beside the cameralens i bourgth a plastic case so i cant understand all this hype and complain about it samsung did the rigth thing in my opinion

krym73
2 months 23 days ago
krym73

I dont use a case or skin and within a day or so I got used to automatically placing my finger there. I did smudge the camera like 2 times but nothing a little wiping down on my shirt couldnt handle. I love using the iris scanner and turned on the option to scan right after waking up the screen.

Sleepypandauk
2 months 24 days ago
Sleepypandauk

No issues with the fingerprint placement in my s8. Got use to it within a few days of use, you just gotta give it a chance. Some people can be so fickle and impatient. Having case definitely helps as it usually the edge of the case slides into the fingerprint sensor.

popetillox
2 months 24 days ago
popetillox

S8+ user here! came from the S7 Edge and VERY happy with my S8+ as is simply the best phone i ever had, and finger print sensor works very well when you are used to.

azkendrick
2 months 24 days ago
azkendrick

The placement doesn’t bother me at all. I use my Gear S3 as a trusted device which keeps it unlocked and still allows me to use my fingerprint to access websites and apps.

agarco
2 months 24 days ago
agarco

Ridiculous reason not to buy a G8, nit-picking

2 months 27 days ago
aroutis

People bitching about the fingerprint sensor placement are people that have not used the device or have not given it time. With almost a month of use I can say there is no problem at all and it gets tiresome to read all these complaints.

stondec
2 months 24 days ago
stondec

I bought the S8 and couldn’t get used to the unintuitive location of the fingerprint scanner scanner and returned it.
When people praised the I’ll advice placement it appears to me that they’re just in denial.

2 months 27 days ago
seadog3172

Plain and simple, the fingerprint sensor placement on the S8 is crap. Unless there is a hardware reason for it not being centered under the camera it appears it was rushed or they went with looks over practicality. The LG G6 and Pixel sensors are Perfectly placed and your finger just naturally lands there when you pull it out of your pocket.

ducy
2 months 28 days ago
ducy

Fingerprint sensor has to be in front! Back position is not intuitive. End of discussion.
S8 – is a fail in this case. I won’t buy it (just) because of that.

Zain_Ajam
2 months 28 days ago
Zain_Ajam
I don’t like that this article is saying “ok, Samsung, we understand and accept the position of the sensor”, because in my view, that position is horribly awkward and particularly on S8+, does require a hand adjustment to use that sensor each time. It’s not about the screen vs sensor trade off, because putting that sensor lower and centre at the back, has nothing to do with the full screen. There probably is another reason that it didn’t end up back centre and lower. I just don’t want the message being put out there that this is an inconvenience that… Read more »
2 months 29 days ago
Chris Banks

Amen brother. One of my favorite little details is that you can use the FPS to unlock the phone from the always on display, so I really don’t have to touch any buttons at all to unlock the phone. I can very easily go back to what I was doing. And it’s super quick

gurkha
2 months 29 days ago
gurkha

S8+ user coming from an S7 edge.

Thought I would have real trouble and setup face rec and pattern. Quickly found the fingerprint sensor was fast and easy to use.

I also have small hands for an average guy so the position is irrelevant as an argument.

Get yourself a decent case that allows easy access to the FP Sensor or buy a skin from dbrand or similar to give you the grip and sort your phone position giving you the best purchase on it.

The phone is no different from the S7 edge apart from minor upgrades, in my opinion.

rosney
2 months 29 days ago
rosney

I bought the Galaxy S8 as soon as it was available and, believe it or not i returned it because of the fingerprint sensor position, it was so hard to land your finger in the sensor! i’m so used to it in my daily transactions and i rely can’t get used to iris scanner (don’t try it outside or you will smash your phone in the floor!) so i came back to my beloved S7. For me is not worth it without a well placed fingerprint scanner.

agarco
2 months 29 days ago
agarco

Foolish attitude with so many ways of accesing the phone!

prsten
2 months 29 days ago
prsten

s8 plus as a whole is the best smartphone i ever had BUT the fingerprintscanner doesn’t work properly on my device even!

JoashNarainsamy
2 months 29 days ago
JoashNarainsamy

Agree, I have the S8+ AND small hands, and this has been a non-issue for me. I use either Iris or Fingerprint unlocking. Having upgraded from the S6, the back relocation was a major concern, but having used the S8+ for a few weeks now, it’s really not a hassle. Don’t get me wrong, I would still have loved to seen the fingerprint sensor embedded below the front screen, but the back location isn’t a problem.

2 months 29 days ago
Martin Eugeniev

Idk for other people but I got used to it very quickly…

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