By now, fingerprint sensors have become a standard feature on smartphones, even on budget offerings. However, that being said, a lot of development is still expected from the technology. And in line with the trend, a Counterpoint Research report estimates fingerprint sensor-capable smartphone shipments to cross a billion units in 2018.
As it can already be noticed, the report suggests that the fingerprint sensor is likely to become the standard choice for smartphone OEMs for authentication. And this choice can be owed to the rapid rise in services such as digital payments, mobile banking, and the commensurate increase in the need to be able to authenticate the user securely.
Commenting on the findings, Research Associate, Parv Sharma, noted, “In CY 2018, almost three in four smartphones will be equipped with a fingerprint sensor. Not only the adoption rate by users but also the advancement in the sensor integration has been rising by leaps and bounds. With changing smartphone designs to include more edge to edge displays, ultrasonic and optical fingerprint sensor technology, which can be used in with wide range of materials and even under the display screen or under water, will drive the technology forward.”
“The penetration of fingerprint sensors in the low-mid end smartphones will increase next year due to rising scale and declining cost of the fingerprint sensor, making it one of the essential components in a smartphone,” Sharma added.
Current share of fingerprint enabled smartphones in the market
As for this year, Samsung was in the lead in terms of fingerprint-enabled smartphones with a market share of 12 percent, followed by Apple with 11 percent, Huawei with 8 percent, Oppo with 6 percent, and Xiaomi with 5 percent. However, the ranking swaps dramatically when we analyze the portfolio penetration. ALSO READ: Huawei surpasses Apple to be the second largest smartphone brand: Counterpoint
Counterpoint research Director Neil Shah highlighted, “Samsung was the market leader within fingerprint enabled smartphones, contributing to 12 percent market share, followed by Apple and Huawei with 11 percent and 8 percent respectively, during Q2 2017. In terms of adoption across the total portfolio shipments, Apple and Xiaomi led, followed by Huawei and OPPO. However, Samsung, ZTE and LG lagged their rivals with a relatively lower rate of fingerprint sensor integration across their total shipments. Chinese brands are already using fingerprint sensors as a differentiator, especially in emerging markets, to compete with local and international brands. They are adding capabilities beyond just unlocking the phones or payments to include gestures to control the camera, gallery and other applications.”
Reliability of fingerprint sensor feature
While the adoption rate of the technology can be seen increasing dramatically, the reliability of the feature has often been questioned. Starting with Apple iPhone 5s’ Touch ID, it has time and again been debated if the feature makes the device more secure or vulnerable.
“Reliability of the fingerprint sensor is major issue, as most of the capacitive fingerprint sensors can be easily spoofed. However, with the latest fingerprint sensors that have live finger detection, or employ ultrasonic fingerprint sensing technology to create a 3D image of the fingerprints, it is potentially more secure and should be the next factor of differentiation for OEMs,” says Neil Shah. ALSO READ: Vivo under-display fingerprint scanner: Here’s how the technology works
Growing suppliers of the technology
Further, in this picture a very important role is played by the suppliers of the technology. As of now, Fingerprints, Synaptics & Goodix contribute to over half of the total smartphone fingerprint sensors. However, players such as Qualcomm, eGIS and Silead are reportedly positioned to grow with more design wins in coming quarters.
“In a scenario where OEMs are increasingly differentiating their products from competition in terms of unique designs, the placement and the type of the fingerprint sensor plays a major role in the overall design of the smartphone. The suppliers have their work cut out and will be responsible for many OEM flagship design decisions. Watch out for under the glass and in-display designs in the next wave of flagship launches. Furthermore, customizing the smartphone sensor with a smart home button that can provide gesture support and over the top features like heart rate monitoring can also make it a more versatile sensor,” Counterpoint research Associate director Tarun Pathak said. ALSO READ: Chinese brands hold 48% smartphone market share globally: Report