Samsung appears to have applied for yet another patent pertaining to in-screen fingerprint sensing technology, suggesting once again that the OEM might be serious about implementing this type of biometric authentication solution onto its next flagship phones. The patent at hand seems to describe an in-screen fingerprint reading solution similar to the one employed by Vivo for the X20 Plus UD showcased at CES earlier this year, in that it appears to rely on a fairly small photosensitive sensor hidden behind the screen at the bottom. Once touched, the sensor area of the screen will change its color and/or brightness level to make it easier for the hidden sensor to read the fingerprint, and the phone will then be unlocked following a successful authentication.
Samsung has been considering numerous ways in which it could bring in-screen fingerprint sensor technology to its handsets. On one hand, a previous patent application suggested that the OEM might be working on a much more versatile solution allowing for larger screen identification areas, as well as compatibility with a wider range of display technologies including not only OLED but also LCD panels. In contrast, existing solutions such as Synaptics's Clear ID sensor employed by Vivo only work with OLED-based screens, which isn't necessarily an issue given the increasing popularity of OLED panels, though it still is a technical limitation worth mentioning. On the other hand, another previous patent application from Samsung described yet an even more limited solution based on a very small scanning area which would require users to swipe their fingers over the surface of the screen, akin to the first-generation of swipe-based fingerprint sensors which were quickly replaced by touch-based solutions.
Having said that, the technology described in the latest application from the OEM seems to fit somewhere in between the previous two patents, having a small identification area that still is big enough to function without requiring swiping gestures. Only time will tell how Samsung will eventually introduce this type of authentication technology, though according to some reports the OEM might debut in-screen fingerprint solutions along with the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 9 later this year or the Galaxy S10 flagships in the first half of 2019. With that in mind, a lot can still change by the time Samsung will be ready to bring fingerprint sensing technology to the next level.