Rumor has it that the reason Apple dropped the fingerprint sensor from the iPhone X is that the company didn’t want to put it on the back of the phone, and that the technology required for under-glass fingerprint sensors wasn’t good enough yet. So Apple ditched fingerprints altogether, and went solely with its Face ID technology for biometric security, which had been in development for several years.
But that doesn’t mean fingerprint readers are dead. They’re still faster and they can be more convenient in many situations than facial recognition. And just because we’re seeing more and more “full screen” phones with slim bezels doesn’t mean fingerprint sensors need to be on the back or sides of a phone.
Synaptics says it’s begun “mass production with a top five OEM” and plans to show off a “soon to be announced Tier 1 customer phone” using the company’s in-display fingerprint sensor at CES in January.
The press release is a bit vague, since it doesn’t say which OEM, but even if the company is working with one of the biggest players in the smartphone space, that doesn’t necessarily meant they’ll use it in a flagship product like the Samsung Galaxy S9. Maybe one of those companies wants to try out the technology on a mid-range phone first to see how well it’s received.
Anyway, Synaptics calls its technology Clear ID, and says it the sensor will “magically activate in the display only when needed,” so you don’t have to worry about accidentally scanning a fingerprint when you’re just using your phone or about the sensor ruining your battery life by constantly working even when you’re not trying to login to anything.
The solution also works with “wet, dry and cold fingers,” and the company says it’s twice as fast as 3D facial recognition, although that will likely vary depending on the face scanning technology that’s being used.