Two Galaxy S10 variants will feature an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor
Past reports have suggested that Samsung would offer an in-display fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus. The cheaper ‘Beyond 0’ was said to sport a side-mounted fingerprint reader, which would have been a first for the Galaxy S line. The entry-level ‘Beyond 0’ model would compete with devices like OnePlus 6 and Asus ZenFone 5Z that are known for offering premium specs at mid-range prices.
A new report coming out of South Korea reveals that all three Galaxy S10 variants would feature the in-display fingerprint reader. But there will be a major difference between the technologies used in the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus, and the entry-level model. An industry executive told The Investor that the “two high-end Galaxy S models will come fitted with an ultrasonic in-screen fingerprint scanner while the other one will house an optical fingerprint sensor” under the display.
The executive added that the Galaxy S10 would be unveiled in February next year, most likely around the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. Samsung will source the ultrasonic fingerprint sensors from Qualcomm. Speaking at an event in China last month, Samsung’s mobile business head DJ Koh said that the next-gen Galaxy S10 would feature ultrasonic fingerprint sensors. Samsung was also recently granted a patent describing how it could implement the ultrasonic sensors under the display.
How do the ultrasonic and optical sensors differ?
So, what’s the difference between the ultrasonic fingerprint sensors and the optical fingerprint readers? The ultrasonic technology transmits ultrasonic pulses against the finger to analyze the pores and ridges that are unique to each fingerprint. It collects a 3D image of the fingerprint for security. Koh said at last month’s event in China that the ultrasonic fingerprint scanners are faster and more accurate. They also offer a much better experience.
The ultrasonic technology allows the entire screen to work as a fingerprint reader. It works even when the screen is dirty and your finger is sweaty.
In contrast, the optical fingerprint sensors cost only a third as much as the ultrasonic sensors. The optical sensor captures a 2D image of your fingerprint, much like a digital camera. It’s not that accurate and reliable if your finger is dirty, sweaty, or too dry. It doesn’t mean the optical fingerprint scanners are terrible. They work pretty well most of the time. Chinese vendors such as Huawei and Vivo have started using the optical fingerprint sensors in their smartphones.
Price could be the primary reason Samsung chose to implement the optical fingerprint sensor in the entry-level model.
Industry analysts predict the in-display fingerprint technology will gain further momentum in 2019. According to TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Samsung would produce 60 million smartphones with the ultrasonic fingerprint sensors in 2019. About 40 million of them will be the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus, while the remaining 20 million would be the Galaxy Note 10 and the Galaxy A series. Kuo did not talk about the output of Samsung phones running optical fingerprint sensors.
Other rumored Galaxy S10 specs
All the three Galaxy S10 variants would run the same processors. They would feature the Snapdragon 855 or Exynos 9820 depending on the region. Both the chips will be based on the 7nm manufacturing process, meaning they would offer better performance and energy efficiency than their predecessors. The entry-level model could pack 4GB RAM while the other two could offer 6GB or 8GB RAM.
According to German publication AllAboutSamsung, the Galaxy S10 Plus would feature a triple camera system on the back similar to the Huawei P20 Pro, which is arguably the best smartphone camera right now. The S10 Plus camera setup would consist of a 12MP main lens with variable apertures, a 13MP telephoto lens, and a 16MP super-wide-angle lens. The cameras are said to be arranged horizontally on the back panel. The entry-level model as well as the standard Galaxy S10 would feature dual cameras on the back. They would launch without the telephoto lens.
It’s worth pointing out that these are just rumors, and should be taken with a pinch of salt. The Galaxy S10 launch is still several months away. A lot could change between now and then.