Samsung is growing impatient with its plan to commercialize in-display fingerprint readers and likely won't be waiting late February to announce its first such devices equipped with those technologies, newly surfaced information indicates. A known China-based industry insider recently claimed the company's first Android smartphones equipped with in-screen fingerprint scanners will be those launching as part of the Galaxy A10 series. What's still unclear is what kind of an implementation Samsung will opt for given how the company is widely reported to have already experimented both with optical sensors and ultrasonic ones, with the latter being a more premium solution which offers better performance but is also more expensive to manufacture.
Blurring the lines between the mid-range and flagship segments
The addition of the innovative authentication method that's only now gaining momentum and is still largely unavailable to consumers in most parts of the world would be a continuation of Samsung's newly established product strategy that saw the company focus on blurring the lines between its mid-range and flagship offerings. While its ultra-premium devices lost some momentum over the course of this year, Samsung's primary motivation for doing so is believed to be the rapidly declining performance of its mid-rangers. Chinese manufacturers such as Xiaomi, Huawei, and OPPO have been undercutting Samsung in the said price bracket for years, which evolved into a particularly significant problem in developing markets such as India.
Due to that state of affairs, Samsung conceded it has to make its mid-range products much more competitive but as it's still insisting on having healthy profit margins in the segment, its only remaining course of action is to pack them with more features and generally invest more in associated research and development. For much the same reasons, the South Korean technology juggernaut is currently rumored to be discontinuing its Galaxy J lineup of entry-level Android devices in order to replace it with the Galaxy M series intended to fit in the lower end of the mid-range market. Another mid-range product family from Samsung planned for a 2019 debut may be in the works as well, recent reports suggested.
A technological dilemma
Whereas the company's upcoming ultra-premium lines such as the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note ranges will almost certainly be using ultrasonic fingerprint readers, it's still unclear whether the same technology will be implemented into the Galaxy A10 devices. Optical scanners that essentially act like repurposed cameras are significantly cheaper to mass-produce, though they also offer worse performance in terms of speed and accuracy, in addition to being largely unable to read wet fingerprints. Using a more affordable solution in mid-range devices is also unlikely to be a controversial move seeing how the only device with an in-screen reader currently sold in the West — the OnePlus 6T — does the same.
Coming (very) soon
While it's only been two months since Samsung debuted the Galaxy A9 range, the Galaxy A10 one likely isn't meant to succeed it directly but will instead be presented as a follow-up to the Galaxy A8 lineup introduced last January. Given the company's established product release cycles, the Galaxy A10 devices are likely to be launched next month as well, presumably after Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is concluded as Samsung rarely brings mid-rangers to the industry's largest annual expo which it prefers to use for showcasing its latest and greatest technologies.
The possibility that an innovative feature such as an in-display fingerpint reader could make its way to a non-flagship device from Samsung before being implemented into the firm's ultra-premium offerings is relatively new but not unprecedented; the Seoul-based manufacturer already opted for a similar strategy with quadruple-camera setups which it commercialized this fall with the aforementioned Galaxy A9 family, whereas its Android flagships are all still "stuck" on only two rear cameras.
In overall, Samsung is in for a busy year that will see it introduce a handful of entirely new mobile lines, including its first foldable smartphone ever which is rumored to be launching as the Galaxy F or Galaxy Fold. Whether the company's increased focus on smartphone R&D will help it regain some of the momentum it lost over the course of this year remains to be seen but Samsung is now certainly facing its toughest competition yet across all price segments and has its job cut out for it.s