Technology

Will Samsung Galaxy S9 Feature Synaptics’ Clear ID Optical Fingerprint Sensor?

Samsung has been working on an in-display fingerprint sensor for more than a year. The Korean company had even joined hands with Synaptics to develop a fingerprint scanner that could be placed under the display of its flagship phones. Rumors about the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 having an optical fingerprint scanner didn’t materialize because Samsung was still facing production and security issues with the new technology. Will the Samsung Galaxy S9 feature Synaptics’ new optical fingerprint reader?

Upcoming Samsung Galaxy S9 Features
Image Credit: Ice Universe / Twitter (screenshot)

Will the Samsung Galaxy S9 feature the Clear ID FS9500 sensor?

On Tuesday, Synaptics announced that its new Clear ID FS9500 in-display fingerprint scanner had entered mass production. It would be much easier to authenticate by placing your finger on the screen rather than on a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. What makes Synaptics’ announcement even more interesting is that it has partnered with a “top five” original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to produce Clear ID FS9500. Industry experts believe that Synaptics has partnered with Samsung.

The top five smartphone OEMs are Samsung, Apple, Huawei, Oppo, and Xiaomi. Apple’s iPhone X has completely ditched fingerprint scanning to incorporate the Face ID facial recognition system. Apple executives have said that the tech giant was never interested in adding a fingerprint sensor to its flagship model. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has reported that all the 2018 iPhones would come with Face ID. So, Apple is not Synaptics’ partner for the in-display fingerprint reader.

Samsung is most likely to be Synaptics’ partner. The Korean company has a long history of working with the fingerprint sensor maker. But that’s not all. Synaptics mentioned in its press release that the new Clear ID sensor was designed for smartphones with “bezel-free OLED infinity displays.” They mentioned “infinity displays” three times in the press release.

The only vendor that refers the edge-to-edge OLED screens on its phones as Infinity Display is Samsung. By mentioning the term multiple times, Synaptics gave a clear indication that it was talking about Samsung. Kevin Barber, SVP of mobile division at Synaptics, said the “natural placement of the fingerprint sensor is in the display itself.”

Synaptics claims its Clear ID optical fingerprint reader is faster and more secure than alternative biometrics including Apple’s Face ID. The Clear ID is said to be twice as fast as Face ID on Apple’s iPhone X. Clear ID could show up in the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Note 9 phones coming in 2018. An optical fingerprint scanner would allow Samsung to ditch the rear-mounted fingerprint reader, which is so close to the camera lens that users sometimes accidentally put their finger on the camera.

However, it’s too early to say whether the Samsung Galaxy S9 would sport the Clear ID sensor. The S9 unveiling is only a few months away, and Samsung may not want to make last-minute changes to its flagship smartphone. Synaptics hasn’t announced the name of its partner, so it could even be Huawei, Xiaomi, or Oppo. Also, Ming-Chi Kuo says the Galaxy Note 9, not the S9, will be Samsung’s first phone to sport an optical fingerprint reader.

There have been multiple leaks and rumors suggesting that the fingerprint reader would be placed on the back of the Samsung Galaxy S9 rather than under the display. Screenshots from Samsung’s S Health app also showcase the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. If Synaptics was indeed referring to Samsung as its partner, the feature could debut with the Galaxy Note 9.

Galaxy S9 to sport an advanced iris scanner

Earlier this week, Korean media reported that the Samsung Galaxy S9 would feature an advanced iris scanner. The company will bump up the iris scanner lens from 2MP on the S8 and Note 8 to 3MP on the S9. It will be able to recognize users’ eyes more accurately in tricky situations such as bright light and dark environments. It would work even when you are moving your eyeballs or wearing sunglasses.

Samsung has reached out to multiple banks in South Korea to ensure that the banking apps are compatible with the iris scanner as an authentication method. The Galaxy S8 and Note 8 have three authentication methods – fingerprint sensor, iris scanner, and facial recognition. But the facial recognition is not secure enough for financial transactions. Samsung is reportedly improving the iris scanner to take on Apple’s Face ID.

How the Galaxy S9 Plus would differ from the S9

The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus are rumored to look like their predecessors, except that the new phones will have slimmer bezels and a relocated fingerprint sensor. Samsung is looking to differentiate the S9 Plus from the regular S9 by adding a dual camera and a larger 6GB RAM on the larger model. The standard Galaxy S9 would feature 4GB RAM and a single camera on the back.

The Galaxy S9 would be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 SoC, which is 30% faster than the SD835. The new processor also brings improvements to virtual reality, AI processing, camera performance, security, and battery efficiency. Other rumored features include a 3.5mm audio jack, 64GB of internal storage, and a microSD card slot for external memory expansion.

There has been a lot of talk lately about the Galaxy S9 unveiling. There were speculations that Samsung could unveil the device at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is only a few weeks away. But a Samsung executive denied those rumors, saying the CES unveiling was “unlikely.” The device is expected to be announced at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in the last week of February.