Apple and Samsung were the two big brands that pushed the notorious notch into the mainstream smart phone market, with their flagship devices rocking very distinctive notches. Now the two giants have turned their attention to the next big mobile phone trend – in-screen fingerprint scanners – in fact, Samsung have apparently been developing this technology for quite some time but have been unable to bring it to market just yet, as it was rumoured to feature on the Galaxy S8, but looks more likely to appear on a Samsung device later than hoped.
The reason for the long time it is taking to release this technology is because the two companies are believed to be developing ultrasonic sensors, and not the optical variants that Vivo and Huawei have already integrated into their phones. Qualcomm were the first to introduce ultrasonic sensors at MWC, but Qualcomm have a varied relationship with Apple, who are said to be developing their own ultrasonic technology – something Samsung are reportedly also doing.
The difference between optical and ultrasonic sensors is easy to explain; the optical sensor will shine light on the fingerprint and then match it with an image stored on the phone, and will unlock the device if it is a match. The ultrasonic sensor creates an ultrasonic map of the fingerprint, and this means far more accuracy even if your hand is wet, these sensors can also work through glass which means it is ideal for use in phones. Because of the high costs of developing and incorporating the tech into phones, we can only expect to see this on high-end flagship phones for the time being.