Samsung will be providing both a temporary and more permanent solution to a problem with its first-generation introduction of an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint reader on the Galaxy S10 flagships, reports now confirm. The company will not be forcing users to find search out one of the few tempered glass screen protectors that work with the handset — which only currently includes one certified Whitestone-built protector. It will be providing a film screen protector on the device out-of-the-box.
The Samsung Galaxy S10e is notably missing from the inclusion of a screen protector primarily because it won't need a special type to work properly. The budget end of the flagship family doesn't feature such a scanner under its 5.8-inch 19:9 FHD+ display. Instead, it depends on a side-mounted reader in the power button, similarly to Sony's handsets or the Google Pixel Slate Chrome OS tablet. So any screen protector made for the gadget will work, including tempered glass.
That means that only the Samsung Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ flagships will include a pre-installed screen protector by default. Samsung will later sell those at a premium for $29.99 too, although those will only be sold directly by Samsung.
The one glaring flaw with a complex solution
Samsung's new tactic is similar to that taken by a wealth of current Chinese-manufactured devices but in its case, that protector will come with a 90-day warranty and its not without good reason. While there are certainly a number of great screen protectors for the devices — mostly film style protectors — the flagship's pursuit of next-gen technology has given it a major flaw.
The use of ultrasonic technology in the reader means that users' fingers effectively need to rest squarely on the display itself. That means that the slightest of air bubbles or distortion from the adhesive used to attach the accessory will effectively nullify the comparatively more secure login and unlock method.
Whitestone has its own solution, as noted above, with its Whitestone Dome tempered glass screen protector at a $69.99. That utilizes a firm adhesive that doesn't just coat the edges and dries via UV light for a solid stick in addition to being certified to fit properly and shipping with guides to aid less adept users.
Other companies have resorted to tempered glass protectors with unsightly and disruptive cutouts for the reader itself.
Most film protectors should work with the new screen protectors but there's a caveat there as well. Even typical film screen protectors won't automatically work if installation goes poorly or if the wrong glue is used.
The full impact on a high-dollar purchase
The solution that's put forward by the Korean tech giant is not necessarily a bad one but isn't likely going to sit well with users who expect a bit more than a cheap plastic film coating for their brand new top-end flagship. That's particularly true with consideration for Samsung's $899.99 starting price point for the smaller, less well-specced Galaxy S10.
Film protectors, while definitely better than leaving a display to be scratched and even protecting from some breakage up to a point, are not ideal for such a high-dollar item. They not only tend to scratch very easily but also don't provide nearly the impact protection of a tempered glass cover and don't look or feel nearly as seamless. Despite Samsung's best effort here, this isn't likely to be a solution that satisfies everybody when it comes to what will likely be the best — or at least most popular — series of handsets for 2019.