Qualcomm’s new in-screen fingerprint reader is bigger and faster

Enlarge / A really exaggerated picture of Qualcomm’s sensor. It’s not this large.


Qualcomm is launching a brand new in-screen fingerprint sensor for smartphones, the “Qualcomm 3D Sonic Sensor Gen 2.” Qualcomm says its ultrasonic fingerprint sensor “might be accessible in new sizes which can be 50% quicker and 77% bigger in comparison with Gen 1,” but it surely nonetheless appears fairly small in comparison with a fingerprint. Simply because the Gen 1 model appeared within the Galaxy S10 and S20, there is a good probability you may see this sensor within the upcoming Galaxy S21.

In-screen fingerprint readers could be quick, correct, and dependable, supplied you really hit their middle, which could be a problem. Being beneath a easy, flat pane of glass means there is no tactile steerage for the place to stay your finger. Early technology fingerprint readers have been fairly small, requiring pinpoint accuracy to hit the sensor. An in-screen fingerprint reader sufficiently big to by no means miss, even with out wanting, could be an enormous enchancment, and whereas we have seen firms speak about a product like that, nobody has shipped one to the market.

In December 2019, Qualcomm made it sound prefer it had met the purpose of creating an enormous fingerprint reader by asserting the “3D Sonic Max.” It gave the impression of a revolution, with a claimed 30mm×20mm floor space, which is so large it was doable to scan two fingerprints aspect by aspect. I do not assume you’d ever need to try this, however the level is simply that you’d by no means miss the scanning space as a result of it’s so giant. The 3D Sonic Max has but to see a business launch, however Qualcomm tells us it’ll ship in a product earlier than the tip of 2021.

Qualcomm's first-gen sensor in the Galaxy S10, next to a fingerprint. The S20 had the same sensor.
Enlarge / Qualcomm’s first-gen sensor within the Galaxy S10, subsequent to a fingerprint. The S20 had the identical sensor.

Ron Amadeo

With OEMs dragging their ft on main leaps in fingerprint reader measurement, possibly incremental change will get Qualcomm extra prospects. I measure my fingertip at about 14mm×14mm, however Qualcomm’s first-gen sensor, accessible on the Galaxy S10 and S20, solely measures a sliver of your fingerprint, with a 9mm×4mm scanning space. At solely 8mm×8mm, this second-gen model continues to be not what I might name a “full fingerprint” sensor, however there’s a larger vertical goal now. Qualcomm’s artwork, above, appears to tremendously exaggerate the dimensions of the sensor relative to a finger, displaying what I might measure nearer to a 20mm×20mm sensor.

It is also necessary to level out that Qualcomm does not have a ton of enterprise for its fingerprint readers proper now. Whereas each smartphone firm on earth makes use of Qualcomm modems, and Android OEMs ship a ton of Qualcomm SoCs, there’s just about just one firm that ships Qualcomm fingerprint readers: Samsung. The overwhelming majority of Android telephones use optical in-screen fingerprint readers, often from Goodix or Synaptics, as an alternative of Qualcomm’s resolution.

However talking of Samsung, it feels like this fingerprint reader might be contained in the Galaxy S21, which launches this week. Final month, plugged-in Samsung leaker Ice Universe stated the Galaxy S21 fingerprint sensor could be ultrasonic and measure 8mm×8mm, which traces up with the specs Qualcomm introduced right now. After delivery Qualcomm’s first-generation fingerprint sensor in 2019 and 2020, a fingerprint sensor improve is properly overdue for the Galaxy line.

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