In short: OnePlus will be joining the in-display fingerprint bandwagon with its second Android smartphone of 2018. The feature will be branded as Screen Unlock and result in the OnePlus 6T being some 0.45mm thicker than the 7.8mm thin OnePlus 6. In a screenshot provided to CNET, the firm also teased a potential OnePlus 6T announcement date – October 17. While the firm didn’t elaborate on the matter, it’s understood that the under-display fingerprint reader of its next Android flagship will be of the optical variety, i.e. be powered by the same technology that enabled similar scanners on the Huawei Mate RS Porsche Design, Vivo X21 UD, and a small number of other Chinese handsets released this year.
Background: OnePlus will be entering the stateside market in a big way this fall and has now confirmed previous reports about a retail partnership with T-Mobile. The fact that ultrasonic fingerprint readers still aren’t ready for commercialization implies its next high-end handset will use an older solution that may not be as fast or accurate as the fingerprint scanners found on its previous handsets which were some of the fastest in the industry, according to numerous reviewers. Regardless, OnePlus believes the addition of an under-display authentication solution will result in a more unified, cleaner design of its phone’s rear panel.
The impact: The OnePlus 6T has the potential to become the first smartphone with an in-display fingerprint reader that’s widely available in the United States. It’s still dubious whether Apple will embrace the technology this year, Samsung is only planning to commercialize it in 2019, and Huawei is effectively blocked from doing large-scale business in the U.S., so its devices such as the Mate RS Porsche Design and the upcoming Mate 20 lineup won’t be easily accessible to the average American consumer, leaving OnePlus in a unique position to capitalize on the emerging trend in consumer electronics, even if it does end up opting for a last-generation optical solution instead of using a more accurate, faster, and secure ultrasonic scanner.