Technology

Galaxy Note 9 In-Display Fingerprint Sensor Still Facing ‘Technological Difficulties’

Galaxy Note 9 In-display fingerprint sensor
Image source: Upcoming Phones (video screen grab)

The Galaxy Note 9 will be Samsung’s next flagship smartphone. It is expected to be similar to the Galaxy S9 Plus in many aspects, but the Note 9 will have many unique features as well. Rumors have been circulating for almost a year that the Galaxy Note 9 would feature an in-display fingerprint sensor. However, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told investors in a research note (via Apple Insider) that Samsung’s optical fingerprint sensor would not be ready in time for the Note 9 release.

Back in August last year, Kuo had said that Samsung would keep the rear-mounted fingerprint reader on the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, which turned out to be true. He added in the same report that Galaxy Note 9 would be Samsung’s first smartphone to feature an optical fingerprint sensor. However, the analyst says in his latest note to investors that the Korean company is likely to drop the technology from the Note 9.

Kuo said Samsung was still facing “technological difficulties” with the under-display fingerprint sensor. Screen protectors and different environments affect the success rate of the technology, forcing Samsung to remove it from the Note 9. Samsung was testing both the ultrasonic and optical solutions, but both of them failed to meet its standards. Kuo remains optimistic about the technology, though. He believes the in-display fingerprint sensor is necessary for full-screen smartphone designs.

It is unclear when Samsung will commercialize the new technology. Samsung’s mobile business chief DJ Koh recently told media that the company would no longer rush things to be the first to market. Instead, it will introduce new products and technologies when they are ready. Ming-Chi Kuo now expects Samsung to bring the feature to market in the first half of 2019 at the earliest. It means the next year’s Galaxy S10 (or whatever it’s called) could be the first Samsung flagship to offer an in-display fingerprint sensor.

While Samsung is still facing problems with the in-display fingerprint solution, China’s Vivo has already launched its Vivo X20 Plus UD with the world’s first optical fingerprint sensor. Vivo uses Synaptics’ Clear ID FS9500 in-display fingerprint sensor in its smartphone. The Vivo X20 Plus UD sports a 6.4-inch OLED display with slim bezels at the top and bottom. Both Vivo and Synaptics have praised the new technology in X20 Plus UD.

However, Synaptics’ Clear ID FS9500 isn’t good enough for Samsung. There are still issues with speed, accuracy, and security with current technologies. The Galaxy Note series is one of the most important product lines for Samsung. The Korean company wants the biometric technologies to be fast and secure enough to be used in highly sensitive cases such as governments and military. The latest Galaxy S9 features a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and a new Intelligent Scan functionality that combines data from the facial recognition and iris scanner to recognize users.

Ming-Chi Kuo believes that the optical fingerprint sensor will be more suitable than facial recognition, even though Apple has been flaunting the security offered by its Face ID technology. Apple says Face ID is far more secure than the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. There is only one in a million chance of a random person unlocking an iPhone X, which is much higher than Touch ID’s 1 in 50,000.

The Galaxy Note 9 was recently spotted on the HTML5Test benchmarking site. The phone has model number SM-N960U, where ‘U’ indicates that it was the unlocked US version of the device. Last year’s Galaxy Note 8 had model number SM-N950. The benchmark scores revealed that the Note 9 would offer an insanely fast browsing experience. The test unit scored 522 out of 555 on HTML5Test, compared to the Galaxy Note 8’s 488 points.

The benchmark listing confirmed that the Galaxy Note 9 would run Android Oreo and have an aspect ratio of 18.5:9. It would also support Google’s Project Treble that makes it easier for Android OEMs to roll out software updates in a more timely fashion. Samsung’s mobile business head DJ Koh said at the MWC the Note 9 would come with an upgrade Bixby 2.0 AI assistant. The company is currently testing the beta versions of Bixby 2.0 with more than 800 partners.

Samsung claims the Bixby 2.0 would be a “bold reinvention” of the virtual assistant. The upgraded Bixby will be capable of recognizing individual voices and giving them personalized answers if there are more than one users. The company will also remove the “Hi, Bixby” trigger before every command to facilitate a more natural communication between the user and the device.

Just like Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, the Galaxy Note 9 would have variable apertures on the rear camera. The recently launched phones’ wide-angle lens has variable apertures of f/1.5 and f/2.4. The camera automatically switches between the two apertures to take the best possible photo. The f/1.5 aperture comes into effect in low-light conditions to capture more light while the f/2.4 is good for daylight shooting conditions. Samsung is also expected to bring the AR Emoji and super slo-mo features to the upcoming flagship.