The next phone in Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S line might be the first such commercial device to feature an in-display fingerprint sensor.
Speculation to that effect has been catalyzed by an announcement yesterday from Synaptics, one of the world’s top fingerprint sensor specialists, that its in-display technology had entered mass production and will be showcased in a ‘Tier 1’ smartphone at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show. Synaptics didn’t name its customer in its statement, but a few tells may point to Samsung. For one thing, the company highlighted its technology’s suitability for OLED displays – a screen technology that has been favored by Samsung. Even more telling, as Phone Arena points out, is a reference in Synaptics’ statement to the industry’s shift to ‘infinity displays’, using Samsung’s branding terminology for displays extending across almost the entire front face of a smartphone.
And then there’s Samsung’s motivations. The company was thought to be pursuing in-display fingerprint sensor technology for its Note 8 smartphone, which ultimately launched in late summer without it. That was quickly followed by Apple’s announcement of its iPhone X and that device’s sophisticated infrared facial recognition system, a step up in the biometric authentication arms race that has likely prodded Samsung’s leadership to seek a response. Samsung has invested too much in championing iris recognition to abandon it for something like Apple’s Face ID, but an in-display fingerprint sensor could help to set Samsung’s next major device apart with claims of greater multi-modal biometric security, not to mention bragging rights for being first to market with a pioneering biometric system of its own.
Then there are the recent rumors that Samsung is aiming for an accelerated launch schedule that will pit its flagship device, the Galaxy S9, more directly against Apple’s iPhone X, with some speculating that the device will be launched at the Consumer Electronics Show. And given that that’s the event where Synaptics plans to demo its in-display technology, there’s good reason to believe that the Galaxy S9 will be the vessel for it.