The lack of an under-display fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy S9 disappointed many, especially after Vivo partnered with Qualcomm to show off a phone with an under-display fingerprint scanner at CES 2018. Nonetheless, reports claimed that Samsung would be debuting the technology on the Galaxy Note 9 later in the year.
Disappointingly, reputed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo now believes that Samsung will not be using the under-display fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy Note 9 due to technical issues. This is not because the tech is not ready but because the solutions from Qualcomm and Samsung’s LSI department are not able to meet the Korean company’s technical requirements. Kuo says that under-display fingerprint scanners do not work properly with screen protectors and their performance is also affected in different environments.
Despite this, Kuo is optimistic about the technology and says that it is important for full-screen designs on smartphones. And in spite of the increasing popularity of face unlock among OEMs, under-display fingerprint scanner will gain popularity eventually as face unlock is simply not as reliable as a fingerprint scanner.
We recognize that under-display fingerprint recognition is key for full-screen designs, and we don’t think that facial recognition can fully replace fingerprint recognition. For these reasons, we remain positive on this technology over the long term. Also, as under-display fingerprint recognition module has a unit price 4-6 times that of capacitive fingerprint recognition module (or higher), we think that once the former module goes into mass production, the contribution to suppliers’ sales and profits will be significant.
Kuo sees Samsung being the leader of under-display fingerprint scanner technology, though he now expects the tech to be widely adopted by OEMs only in 2019.
Given Kuo’s track record, there’s definitely a possibility of Samsung ditching the under-display fingerprint scanner tech on the Galaxy Note 9. Demos of Vivo’s smartphone with under-display fingerprint scanner have also not been too positive, with many people complaining about the longer unlock times. Nonetheless, we should still see Vivo launch a smartphone with an under-display fingerprint scanner later this year, with other OEMs likely to use the tech in their 2019 flagship handsets.