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Qualcomm’s under-display fingerprint sensors coming in 2018


Qualcomm has announced the next-generation of ultrasonic fingerprint sensors, which will allow manufacturers to place their fingerprint sensors under the front display of a phone (pretty much what Samsung had initially planned for the Galaxy S8, as well as rumours that Apple may try something similar for the next iPhone).

Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors can also be used under metal and glass on the rear of a phone. The sensors can cope well with water well too, being able to wake the phone underwater. Their versatility doesn’t stop there though, as the sensors have health uses, being used to detect heart rate and blood flow. 

If you are wondering how these fingerprint scanners work, well, the ultrasonic sensor uses sound waves to penetrate the glass or metal to work out the pattern of your finger. However, the main limitation is the thickness of the material used. The Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensor for Display can scan through OLED display stacks of up to 1200um, while the Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors for Glass and Metal can scan through up to 800 µm of glass and 650 µm of aluminium.

The first devices with these under-surface fingerprint sensors are expected to arrive during the first half of 2018. We would expect this to be one of the big points of differentiation in premium smartphones next year.

The under-display sensor is designed for use with OLED displays, so it’s unknown if Sony plans to adopt this for its 2018 devices. Sony has traditionally used LCD displays for its Xperia smartphones, although we have heard various rumours that the company may produce an OLED-equipped Xperia device next year.

Vivo is currently demoing the new fingerprint sensor at Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2017, using modified versions of the VIVO XPlay 6. Check out a short promo video below highlighting how it works below.


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