Samsung will be abandoning its iris scanning technology in favor of a new ultrasonic-based option from Qualcomm for its upcoming Galaxy S10 flagship, according to a recent leak from Chinese industry insider 'Ice Universe'. The decision to remove the iris scanner is the direct result of the fact that the latest in-display fingerprint technology from the latter company is finally "enough" to serve as a replacement. The new design is said to be faster and to have a much larger recognition area, in addition to being as much as 30-percent more accurate. Moreover, the Korean smartphone manufacturer will reportedly have exclusive access to the scanners through the first half of 2019, giving the company a head start in implementing the feature into its handsets.
Background: Reports began circulating about next year's entry into the Samsung Galaxy S family of devices almost immediately following the launch of its Galaxy Note 9 phablet. At least one of the more recent of those has explicitly centered around the possibility that the Korean tech giant might abandon its short-lived iris scanner in favor of in-display fingerprint-based biometrics security. The reasoning behind that shift is likely fed by key trends in the smartphone market as well as the fact that users generally don't seem to like the iris scanner. For starters, industry insiders have claimed that Samsung not only sees potential in the use of ultrasonic fingerprint solutions. Those same reports indicate that Samsung recognizes that its iris scanning technologies as well as facial recognition tech in general, are just not moving forward quickly enough. The features are often seen as being too difficult to use with any degree of accuracy and simply aren't fast enough to negate the use of fingerprint scanning.
However, those haven't been the only signs that Samsung might be considering the use of in-display readers based on Qualcomm's technology. The OEM could utilize a rear-facing scanner to meet the current expectations about its next-gen flagship's nearly 100-percent screen-to-body ratio but rumors from effectively across the board have pointed to the use of an in-display scanner instead. Although those are mostly speculative in nature, the technology is currently expected to see a usage increase of around 10-percent according to one analysis conducted by TrendForce. The vast majority of those will be encompassed under capacitive technologies but Qualcomm’s ultrasonic solutions are also expected to make gains in terms of affordability and market share. Up until this point, the technology has been available but not put into use at the commercial level. That's on top of advances the company has claimed to have made in terms of bringing its scanner in line or ahead of the most popular current technologies in terms of speed, accuracy, and usability.
Impact: The implications of the latest apparent confirmation that Samsung plans to utilize in-display fingerprint scanners from Qualcomm aren't necessarily straightforward at this point. Aside from being unsourced, the inclusion may or may not be successful depending on how well the latter OEMs technology actually performs in real-world use. Ultrasonic fingerprint readers have traditionally been much slower than other available options and the above-mentioned improvement isn't provided with any contextual reference with regard to either capacitive or optical scanners. Bearing that in mind, if the new scanners do perform well enough to replace the iris sensor completely, it wouldn't be too surprising to see that happen with the Samsung Galaxy S10 next year.