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THE INVESTOR

Samsung

Why Samsung ditched on-screen fingerprint scanning for Galaxy S8

  • PUBLISHED :March 13, 2017 - 16:03
  • UPDATED :March 14, 2017 - 20:55
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[THE INVESTOR] Samsung Electronics' upcoming Galaxy S8 is unlikely to feature on-screen fingerprint scanning after its touch sensor partner Synaptics ran out of time for developing the related technology, industry sources told The Investor earlier this month.

On-screen fingerprint was a highly anticipated function for the new phone with a larger-than-ever display screen.




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“Samsung poured resources into Synaptics’ fledgling technology last year but the results were frustrating,” a source briefed on the matter on condition of anonymity.

“With the production imminent, the company had to decide to relocate the fingerprint scanning home button to the back of the device at the last minute.”

A larger screen that covers almost the entire front body is a key feature for the S8. Since last year, Samsung had made all-out efforts to embed a fingerprint scanner under the display to allow users to unlock the phone by placing their finger on the screen, not the physical home button on the bottom.

But the efforts went down the drain after California-based Synaptics failed to develop the technology on time. As the result, the home button is widely expected to be relocated to the back next to the rear-facing camera lens.

The rear fingerprint scanner is a letdown for Samsung fans who have longed for the first-ever smartphone with on-screen fingerprint scanning. Some of them are calling it “technological regression” considering a number of its smaller rivals have already launched their larger-screen phone with a fingerprint scanner on the back.

Some users also complain about picking up the device repeatedly to unlock the phone or smudging the camera lens by mistake.

Most notably, industry watchers say Apple’s possible adoption of on-screen fingerprint scanning for the new iPhone 8 could steal the show from Samsung. The iPhone maker is said to be testing the waters to deploy the on-screen fingerprint scanner as well as a 3-D camera for facial recognition.

“It is still extremely difficult to develop transparent sensors and components to be used for an all-screen smartphone,” said an official of a local display tech firm, expressing skepticism about Apple’s pending adoption.

“If those technologies are fully developed, it would be a big leap forward within the smartphone industry.”

Currently, some biometric sensor and module makers such as China’s Goodix and South Korea’s CrucialTec are working on on-screen fingerprint readers. The two firms demonstrated their respective technologies during the Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona in February but no timeline was revealed for the immediate commercialization.

In the meantime, the S8 is also rumored to feature an advanced facial recognition software solution along with an iris scanner to beef up security. With the face scanner, it is expected to take less than 0.01 second to unlock the phone.

By Kim Young-won (wone0102@heraldcorp.com)
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