Synaptics had a pretty interesting announcement ahead of CES 2018, and that was its Clear ID in-display fingerprint sensor. This is something that many companies have been working on for quite a few years, including Qualcomm. But Synaptics appears to be the first one to bring it to market. It is debuting on Vivo’s next flagship smartphone, which doesn’t have a name yet, and the specs are not official either, so expect to see it launch in the next few months.
Having said that, the real thing here is the fingerprint sensor on this smartphone. It’s under the display in the device, and it is placed where most home buttons would be normally, making it easier for people to move to an in-display sensor versus a traditional button. During the demo, the sensor worked really well, and unlocked very fast. It was fast enough to get on video, but not quite fast enough to get in a picture. It’s about as fast as other fingerprint sensors on the market right now, in smartphones like the Galaxy S8, LG V30 and others. The only real difference is that you get to have smaller bezels without needing a sensor on the back. All you have to do is put your finger on the sensor and the device unlocks.
Now with this phone, there is always-on display, which can be removed in the settings, but it’s a good way to pull the phone out of your pocket and unlock it, since it does show you were to put your finger to unlock the device. Of course, you can also turn it on and then unlock it, but that is an extra step that you really don’t need to do. Making it easier than ever to keep your phone locked and easier to unlock it. Seeing as security is a big deal with smartphones as of late, this is definitely a good thing.
In talking with Synaptics at CES 2018 this week, we learned that currently manufacturers are only able to use the sensor in one place, which is at the bottom of the device. Now that is the most logical place to put it, since that is where most people will put their finger to unlock the device. But Synaptics plans on making it so that manufacturers are able to put the sensor anywhere on the device’s display. That’s a bit further down the road and at this point, it’s probably not going to be a big deal. But Synaptics does have big plans for its Clear ID fingerprint sensors. Which are already pretty small, as you can see from the image above.
As mentioned, the Vivo phone shown here has not been announced, and Synaptics did warn us that it likely doesn’t have final software nor hardware (which is common when seeing phones even at launch). But Synaptics does believe that we will see plenty more smartphones with this in-display sensor, especially with more and more smartphones going with the 18:9 aspect ratio. Now that the fingerprint sensor issue is solved, it’ll be interesting to see how the front-facing camera evolves, and disappears. Then you could truly get a phone with no bezel at all.