The use of fingerprint sensors and other forms of biometric identification is growing rapidly on smartphones. So much so that new data from Digitimes Research suggests that in 2017 alone, there were 920 million global shipments of smartphones equipped with a fingerprint sensor. A number which the same report suggests will increase up to 1.25 billion by 2020.
With numbers like these, it would be easy to assume that most, if not all, smartphones shipped last year did come equipped with a fingerprint sensor. However, that is far from the case. As while the numbers are increasing at a fast rate, the report notes the 920 million units shipped in 2017 equates to about a 64-percent level of penetration. Thereby the number of phones shipped without any form of fingerprint-based ID, is still significant enough and well over a third of the market as a whole. As part of the predictions made in this latest report, the gap will continue to close though. With the suggested 1.25 billion expected by 2020 to then account for a penetration level of 75-percent. In other words, the gap will close another 11-percent in the next two years alone which could be interpreted as an even greater uptick in the level of fingerprint sensor adoption by smartphones manufacturers, compared to previous years.
Of course, fingerprints sensors themselves are rapidly changing as well. So while the market penetration level continues to rise closer to its saturation point, that is not the same as saying all smartphone will be equipped with the same fingerprint sensors. For example, just this week during CES 2018 Vivo showcased its latest smartphone. While this one has yet to even be named, or its specs and features announced, one thing it is confirmed as having is a fingerprint sensor that is embedded in the display (as shown above). While this marks a first for a smartphone in general, the growing expectation is that under-display fingerprint sensors will start to become a norm among flagship smartphones in 2018 and likely, expanding down the chain beyond this year. In either case, this latest report further adds to the growing suggestion the one billion line for fingerprint-enabled smartphone shipments will be passed this year. A milestone which was previously predicted last September.