The bezel-less smartphone revolution is upon us. With displays getting bigger, space on the front is reducing. Fingerprint scanners are moving to the back of devices but their placement can sometimes be inconvenient. In light of this, consumers are calling for on-screen fingerprint scanners. But how feasible are they?
In the recently concluded MWC in Shanghai, Vivo in collaboration with Qualcomm unveiled the first smartphone built with an on-screen fingerprint scanner. The technology uses ultrasonic transmission and piezoelectric means to register your fingerprint beneath the display. Have a look at this video and see for yourself:
Are you impressed? We will give it to Vivo and Qualcomm about the technology but it is far from perfect. The time to register your fingerprint is definitely longer than conventional and unlocking requires a firm press of about two seconds. Towards the latter end of the video, you can also see that tries of unlocking the phone with a rapid tap weren’t as successful.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has similar beliefs. While the on-screen technology can differentiate between artificial and real fingers, the user experience isn’t as quick nor as accurate. In addition, the technology requires special amendments from the manufacturer’s side. A thinner cover glass is one but also a flexible OLED panel which is something that is out of reach for many smartphone makers.
With the changes, we must also consider build quality. By thinning out cover glass panels, we may also be putting the already fragile screens on our smartphones in more danger. From a company perspective though, the new technology will prove to reduce manufacturing costs in the long run. Qualcomm believes on-screen scanning can be here as early as next summer. Yet, Ming-Chi Kuo thinks it may take longer.
As for our stance, we believe the technology has great potential. With every innovation, problems are inevitable. Even the conventional hardware fingerprint scanners we use today came with issues at the start. The most ideal situation would be to see the technology working flawlessly as soon as possible. Yet for us, the next summer time-frame from Qualcomm seems to be the most realistic.