Hey Samsung, where’s your in-display fingerprint sensor?

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It has consistently been rumored for the past few years that Samsung is going to introduce optical fingerprint recognition technology with a flagship smartphone. The Galaxy S8 was rumored to be the first commercially available smartphone with an in-display fingerprint sensor but that didn’t happen. It decided against the idea because apparently, the technology wasn’t ready.

We then heard the same rumors about the Galaxy Note 8 as well but even it didn’t feature an in-display fingerprint sensor. Samsung reportedly abandoned the idea for the Galaxy Note 8 due to technical challenges, it was having a hard time manufacturing an integrated circuit that was to be placed under the display’s surface to read the fingerprint image. With a Chinese manufacturer having launched a mid-range smartphone with an in-display fingerprint sensor this week, one has to ask Samsung why it’s no longer leading the way in innovative smartphone technologies.

Samsung has missed the boat

US-based sensor manufacturer Synaptics unveiled its in-display fingerprint sensor last month. The company said that it would provide this component to smartphone manufacturers who want to add this functionality to their smartphones. Many thought that Samsung would use the in-display fingerprint sensor from Synaptics for the Galaxy S9 but given that we know what to expect from Galaxy S9, it’s not going to have an in-display fingerprint sensor as well.

Synaptics demonstrated its in-display fingerprint sensor with China-based smartphone manufacturer Vivo at the Consumer Electronics Show 2018 earlier this month. The device it was demonstrated on didn’t have a name or a launch date but it does now. The Vivo X20 Plus UD was officially launched earlier this week. It’s the world’s first commercially available smartphone with a fingerprint sensor that’s integrated into the display itself.

Users don’t have to participate in finger gymnastics in order to unlock their smartphone using the fingerprint sensor as they have to do on certain smartphones where the sensor’s placement leaves a lot to be desired. They just need to place a finger on the screen. It’s that simple and even though it might be just a little bit slower than conventional sensors, it’s far from a gimmick or a novelty. The X20 Plus UD has a fully functional in-display fingerprint sensor and it goes without saying that the technology is only going to get better from here on out.

For the longest time, Samsung was expected to be the first company to take this bold step and put a handset on the market that introduced the world to this technology. That title now goes to Vivo. It’s not like Vivo was striving for perfection here, the company didn’t introduce this technology with a flagship device. The $520 X20 Plus UD is actually an upgraded model of its existing X20 Plus mid-range handset, it’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660 processor with 4GB RAM and features an 18:9 6.43-inch Super AMOLED display.

There’s nothing forcing Samsung to introduce an in-display fingerprint sensor with a flagship smartphone. It can take a chance on this technology with a premium mid-range or even a regular mid-range device. It’s not like the company doesn’t add features to mid-range smartphones that aren’t even available on its flagship handsets. Case in point: the dual front-facing camera on the Galaxy A8 (2018).

The surprising part is that Samsung might have bankrolled this achievement for Vivo itself. It was reported last year that Samsung had poured a lot of money into Synaptics’ in-display fingerprint technology because it wanted the component to be ready in time for the Galaxy S8. Synaptics wasn’t able to do that so Samsung ditched the idea. Technical challenges then forced Samsung to abandon the idea for the Galaxy Note 8 as well.

Synaptics has clearly made significant improvements since then otherwise Vivo wouldn’t be releasing a smartphone with an unreliable component and it soon might not be the only company that beat Samsung to the market with this technology. Vivo is owned by BBK Electronics, a privately held Chinese mega-company that also owns Oppo and OnePlus. If the X20 Plus UD is well received in the company’s home market it won’t take long for either of those companies to push out a handset with an in-display fingerprint sensor.

Samsung has long been the leader in innovative smartphone technologies. It popularized OLED displays for smartphones and has made a significant contribution in shifting the market to larger display sizes for handsets. The company showcased its innovative spirit with experimental handsets like the Galaxy Round and the Galaxy Note Edge – two handsets that told the world just how far advanced the company’s display technology was. They introduced us to the curved displays that the world fell in love with when Samsung used them in its flagship smartphones.

Nobody is asking Samsung to launch another experimental device that showcases the in-display fingerprint technology. A poll we conducted recently showed that not a lot of people are willing to buy experimental products regardless of how much they might cost, they will only consider them if the price isn’t too high.

The fact remains, though, that Samsung appears to be losing its quality of flinging stuff against the wall just to see what sticks. It’s this quality that brought about the second coming of the stylus with the Galaxy Note lineup at a time when many had written off this input method as a relic of the Palm handheld days. It’s this quality that brought us gorgeous dual-edge curved displays that make it impossible for many to switch back to a flat panel.

If Samsung is bent on introducing an in-display fingerprint sensor with a flagship smartphone then we might have to wait until the fall this year when the Galaxy Note 9 will be due and even then there’s no confirmation that this will happen. The Galaxy A8 (2018) was a missed opportunity because Samsung’s key premium mid-range lineup has also been revamped now and its successor isn’t due until early next year. For all we know, Samsung might not launch a device with an in-display fingerprint sensor until 2019 and it’s highly likely that multiple Chinese OEMs will have launched theirs by then.

Do you think that Samsung’s innovative edge that was behind some of its greatest products ever is fading? Should the company be doing more than just improvements to its existing technologies? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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valencia442
19 days 15 hours ago
valencia442

El único celular con pantalla curvada de Samsung que me gustó fue el del Galaxy Note 4 EDge, ésa curva si era útil, en cambio sus sucesoras son bonitas pero nada prácticas

Linkeddevices
19 days 15 hours ago
Linkeddevices

No one ever even planned to do this. The media speculated on it because of Qualcomm and an old patent, but that’s standard r and d.

Apple even came out and stated that the media were just chasing their own tails.

superg05
22 days 22 hours ago
superg05

they should of just put it in the power button like sony

stondec
23 days 12 hours ago
stondec

The current iteration of the in-display fingerprint scanner is horrible and sluggish. First you have to power on the phone, then place your finger on the scanner and hold your finger there (rather than just tap your finger on it) until it sluggishly opens your phone.

As much as I hate the back mounted fingerprint scanner on my Note 8, at least I can turn the phone on by the one action of placing a finger on the fingerprint scanner.

hey07
23 days 13 hours ago
hey07

Note 9.

AH76
23 days 14 hours ago
AH76

TL;DR but spotted this “With a Chinese manufacturer having launched a mid-range smartphone with an in-display fingerprint sensor this week,”. Everything I’ve read about that says it’s not ready, reports are its not 100% and doesn’t work with screen protectors. Samsung can’t win, if they launched this you’d be moaning about how unreliable it is, they don’t launch it you moan because everyone else is doing it first.

Hey Samsung, stick this not-quite-ready technology in the S9 because look how well it worked for Bixby.

guy.hindle
23 days 14 hours ago
guy.hindle

“It’s this quality that brought us gorgeous dual-edge curved displays that make it impossible for many to switch back to a flat panel”

Really? I have a Galaxy S7 Edge, I struggle to see what the benefit of the curve is. AFAIK it “just” means that apps which are “Edge-aware” don’t bother using the pixels on the edges!

What am I missing?

Martin R.
23 days 12 hours ago
Martin R.

You should try Series Guide and see how scrolling works in that app. It is Edge heaven. If more app developers would do this than the edge would be more and more useful.

I always fin it strange we can’t volume up or down with the use of the edge…

martindale
23 days 5 hours ago
martindale

But does the physical curve in any way facilitate the scrolling-heaven functionality, or would it work just as well on the edge of a regular flat screen?

AH76
23 days 13 hours ago
AH76

I quite agree, I had the S8 and the curved display, combined with the taller display, meant that apps running full-screen often cut off the sides. Nice display but not perfect, yet.

locarno
23 days 14 hours ago
locarno

Because it’s beautiful

RoadRunner99
23 days 9 hours ago
RoadRunner99

Yeah, beautiful glare and distortion.

Bobbingalong
23 days 14 hours ago
Bobbingalong
I am seeing the s9 being an afterthought for Samsung at this moment as they have been spreading their resources thinly with the galaxy x and potentially planning for a big launch for the S10. They could see the s8 still being a great design and that they can make shed loads of money from upgrade of the s7 or s7 customer with minimal update and lots of cost saving exercises such as reuse of existing components and reducing need for changing their expensive production line. But very poor decisions to annoy loyal fans with inferior smaller model. To save… Read more »
Biransahin
23 days 14 hours ago
Biransahin

I don’t think they’ll bother with the embedded fingerprint scanner. They’ll just improve iris scanning with Face recognition working together and leave the scanner on the back. That’s what I’d do at least for Note9. I use tje sPen and don’t want to smudge my screen every time I unlock it.

flyer.michael
23 days 15 hours ago
flyer.michael

As I stated before
Waiting for Note 9… with my beloved S-Pen.

S Series is always like an unpolished Version between the refined Note Series.
Even if novelties like S-Pen / Edge Screen / Dual Camera and other gimmicks are added…

Note Series is the real flagship!

stondec
23 days 12 hours ago
stondec

Waiting for the Note 9 too. Can’t stand any phone without an S Pen.

caesantos
23 days 15 hours ago
caesantos

I guess Samsung has to save something new for Note9!

Amr207
23 days 15 hours ago
Amr207

I think Samsung wants to give us the best technologies the best it works, so in-display fingerprint have some technical issues and samsung is working to solve them as possible as they can but we hope to see this technology in Note 9

gsdworld21
23 days 15 hours ago
gsdworld21

Since I got my Note8 at launch I thought id really struggle with the placement of the FPS but its not too bad. Under screen would be pretty neat though.

superf
23 days 16 hours ago
superf

Just put the bloody thing in the center of the back or on the side under the power button!

strazzi
23 days 16 hours ago
strazzi

They are going on Apple road. But they adopted from apple not only good stuff but also bad ones.
Like this finger print… Model from model small changes and prices only higher… They have to get it together and do some new shi… before china brands eate them.

HossamAlMasri
23 days 16 hours ago
HossamAlMasri

Samsung strategy is becoming increasingly stupid … though they have the technology they introduce 1 new thing with each new device to keep people changing their phones every year

psychomania666
23 days 16 hours ago
psychomania666

From what I read the sensor on the Vivo works by scanning through the gaps between pixels on the display. The displays on Samsungs flagships have a much higher pixel density which could explain why the technology currently won’t work. Also the technology doesn’t reliably work through screen protectors and I’m assuming Samsung knows that a lot of people still like to use those.

Adnan F.
23 days 15 hours ago
Adnan F.

Vivo ships a screen protector with the X20 Plus UD that works perfectly with the in-display sensor. And accessory manufacturers never dictate innovation, they just adapt when it happens. If Samsung was worried about screen protectors it probably wouldn’t have introduced dual-edge curved displays when it did!

psychomania666
23 days 15 hours ago
psychomania666

The point you’ve missed is that it would likely result in a PR nightmare for Samsung when all the blogs start reporting that the fingerprint sensor doesn’t work when in fact it’s the tempered glass protectors that many people like to use that is causing the problem. Also perhaps as the writer of the article you could do some research of how the tech works and see if pixel density/screen resolution is the real limiting factor?

n900mixalot
23 days 15 hours ago
n900mixalot

Funny that’s not mentioned in the article. Adnan, your work quality is slipping …

Martin R.
23 days 16 hours ago
Martin R.

Funny thing the OLED on the Vivo is made by Samsung.

psychomania666
23 days 16 hours ago
psychomania666

It is but the pixel density is 376ppi (1080×2160) compared to 529ppi (1440×2960) on the S8+ so there’s less gaps between pixels on Samsungs phones which could mean the technology doesn’t work.

Martin R.
23 days 15 hours ago
Martin R.

True true

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