It s been 10 years since Apple introduced the first ever iPhone to the world. Over the years, the iPhone has seen a number of design changes and addition of new, innovative features, with the fingerprint sensor being one of the crucial implementations for biometric authentication. After debuting on the iPhone 5s, embedded inside the home button, Apple recently made a big change on last year s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus you no longer get a physical home button. Instead, there is now a capacitive circular strip that doubles as a fingerprint sensor, but it is not clickable. It has been heavily rumoured that Apple may ditch the home button all together for an under-display fingerprint sensor. But a recently leaked iPhone 8 schematics paints a completely different picture all together. Also Read - Samsung Galaxy M32 first look: A decent Redmi Note 10S competitorAlso Read - Samsung Galaxy Watch Active4 leaked renders show fresh design, flatter display
A fingerprint sensor has now become an essential feature of almost every smartphone today, and even smartphones priced under Rs 9,000 have one. Besides unlocking your smartphone, the fingerprint sensor also comes handy in securing your apps and other content from unauthorized access. Apple always aims to bring in game-changing innovation to the table, and the same was expected with the iPhone 8, but that doesn t seem viable as of now. Also Read - New iPhone SE to be the most affordable 5G phone from Apple, to launch in 2022
Why is there a need for under-display fingerprint sensor?
With users looking for smartphones with bigger displays, manufacturers are incorporating bigger panels in a compact form factor. Take an example of the Xiaomi Mi MIX, LG G6 or the recently launched Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. All these smartphones feature edge-to-edge displays while trimming the top and bottom, and size bezels. But, to offer larger screen real-estate the fingerprint sensors that are placed below the display need to be moved. ALSO READ: Apple iPhone 8 Touch ID sensor integrated into screen facing production difficulties: Report
With ultrasonic fingerprint sensors, they can be implemented under the display, thus doing away with the need of having physical scanner. Take an example of the Mi MIX, Xiaomi got rid of the earpiece above the display, and instead, moved it under the display. The working of under-display fingerprint sensor will be quite similar. The technology can map the ridges and pores on users finger, making it easier to scan and unlock the device.
However, the companies haven t been able to implement it so far. Be it Samsung, LG or Xiaomi, they had to move the fingerprint sensor at the back of the device. It was believed that the iPhone 8 could be the first smartphone to feature an under-display fingerprint sensor, but that little hopes have also faced.
Apple iPhone 8 could feature an Android inspired rear-mounted fingerprint sensor
If you take a look at the range of Android smartphones, a lot of them feature fingerprint scanners placed at the back, just below the camera module. The rear placement makes it easier to unlock the smartphone with your finger by touching the back of the device. Smartphones such as the Honor 8, Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, Redmi Note 4, Google Pixel and Pixel XL, Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8, are some of the smartphones featuring rear-mounted.
Now, if we look at the recently leaked iPhone 8 schematics, Apple could be looking forward to move the fingerprint sensor at the back. One of the primary reasons for Apple to move the fingerprint sensor at the back could be due to production difficulties in integrating the sensor under the display.
According to a report on AppleInsider, analysts believe that Apple has evaluated Synaptic’s optical fingerprint solution, but that it has not been qualified. And without the optical fingerprint sensor module ready for mass production and appropriate implementation, Apple ditch it until then. Even if Apple somehow figures that out, it could be way too late in the manufacturing cycle to overcome mass production issues.
Why I am not a big fan of rear-mounted fingerprint sensors?
Smartphones like the OnePlus 3, OnePlus 3T, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge, HTC 10 and U Ultra, iPhone 6s and the iPhone 7, to name a few, feature front-mounted fingerprint sensors. One of the benefits of this placement is that you don t have to lift the phone to unlock it using your fingerprint. For instance, if your phone is resting on a table, and someone texts you, or you have some notification on Facebook, WhatsApp or Twitter, you can press the home button, scan the fingerprint and check the notifications.
However, in case of the rear-mounted fingerprint sensors, you have to either the lift the phone to scan your fingerprint, or unlock using PIN or pattern. Yes, some people like the idea of having the sensor at the back as it makes easier for your finger to reach the sensor when holding the phone, but like I said, it does not work when the phone is resting on the surface. ALSO READ: 10 ways Apple changed smartphones forever with the iPhone
In case of Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, Samsung has really gone wrong with the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. Firstly, placing it besides the camera module is a bad idea as you may accidentally end up touching the camera. This also means you will have to clean it from time to time. Secondly, as the sensor is placed right side of the camera, a person holding the device with left hand is most likely to struggle making their finger reach the sensor.
In case of iPhone 8 schematics, the placement seems a little odd at the centre of back panel, just below the Apple logo. If at all Apple goes with the placement as seen on the leaks, one is likely to struggle unlocking the phone.
Surprisingly, the Galaxy Note 8 render has leaked too, and it does not show the fingerprint sensor on the front or on the back. Could it be that Samsung finally figured out a way to implement the under display fingerprint sensor, which it could not do with the Galaxy S8 models?
What do you think about the fingerprint scanner placement? You prefer it placed below the display or at the back? Let us know about your thoughts in the comment section below.
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