How can Samsung make its Galaxy S9 stand out if the main changes are slightly faster chipsets? Just like Apple with the iPhone X, the answer may lie in biometric identification. The South Korean company may be ready to launch the on-screen fingerprint sensor with the new flagship.
The patent was first reported by Ilse Jurrien of LetsGoDigital this evening, which notes the new technology is likely to appear on the Galaxy S9 along with the expected specifications of the new handset.
The international patent was submitted in April 2017, while the Korean patent was filed during 2016, showing that this is a long-standing goal of Samsung’s design team. With smartphone design trending towards larger screens and smaller bezels (or curved edges that tuck the bezel out of sight) the beloved fingerprint sensor has generally been pushed to the back of the machine. It is a suitable surface from an engineering point of view but ergonomically tricky to get a comfortable fit for every user.
Apple’s solution on the iPhone is to switch to facial recognition. Samsung’s solution appears to be getting a fingerprint sensor that works in the main screen area.
It was suggested that Samsung was close to success with this technology for the Galaxy Note 8, but in the end getting the color reproduction matching between sensor and non-sensor parts of the screen was not of high enough quality. There’s renewed interested in this solution, and if it is ready for prime time then the Galaxy S9 is the likely carrier.
The patent explains that sitting below a regular screen display will be a pressure sensor. Above the display is the touch sensor, the fingerprint sensor, and finally the cover glass. The fingerprint sensor will be activated at a specific level of pressure. The patent also shows that using different areas of the screen to read the fingerprint will result in different actions and unlocked areas of the device. The included example is accessing a private instant messenger chat, but it can also be programmed to work with a photo gallery. This is in addition to the regular features of authenticating downloads, making contactless payments, and accessing online banking.
The obvious answer is in the next flagship handset, the Galaxy S9. It now appears that Samsung will be teasing 2018’s S edition in January at CES. If so, that allows it to take control and explain the choices made in the S9 in public ahead of a more detailed reveal.
Showing a touch on the screen that unlocks the device would certainly capture the headlines as Samsung lays out its story of why this is a better choice than facial recognition. In a year where the specifications are expected to be ‘a little bit better’ there may be a feeling the Galaxy S9 needs something to challenge the shiny feature of FaceID on the iPhone X.
The screen mounted fingerprint reader could do the trick. Is Samsung ready to bring it to a commercial handset?