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Best Of CES 2021: Qualcomm Second-Gen 3D Sonic Fingerprint Scanner

AH Qualcomm Gen 2 3D Sonic CES award badge
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Qualcomm’s second-gen 3D Sonic in-display fingerprint scanner improves upon the first-gen model in all the right places.

Qualcomm has introduced its first in-display fingerprint scanner back in December 2018. At CES 2021, the company debuted its second-gen model, which is a major improvement. That improvement was much-needed, as optical sensors from the competition became extremely good over time. The company’s second-gen 3D Sonic sensor is here, and we’ll see it in action soon, as the first phones equipped with it are coming. We’ve decided to hand the Qualcomm 3D Sonic fingerprint scanner one of our CES 2021 awards.

Unlike optical fingerprint scanners, which come with a tiny camera built-in, Qualcomm’s 3D Sonic units work in a completely different way. They rely on ultrasonic waves to scan your fingerprint, and they are technically more advanced than their optical counterparts. Qualcomm’s 3D Sonic fingerprint scanner scans 3D features such as ridges, valleys, as well as pores of your finger, in order to provide a deeply accurate image.

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Qualcomm has delivered a thinner and much-improved 3D Sonic fingerprint scanner this time around

Qualcomm’s second-gen 3D Sonic in-display fingerprint scanner is extremely thin. It measures only 0.2mm in thickness, which will make smartphone OEMs happy. These tiny units do not take up much space inside smartphones, and that’s extremely important. This sensor is much larger than its predecessor, in terms of its scanning area. To be more accurate, it’s 77-percent larger than Gen 1 product.

The Qualcomm 3D Sonic sensor Gen 1 was 4x9mm (surface area 36mm2). The second-gen model, on the other hand, will offer a sensor that is 8×8 (64mm2). That will make scanning your finger a lot easier, as there’s much less room for error here. That’s not the only change, though. This thing can capture 1.7x more biometric data compared to the first-gen model, which is quite impressive.

It’s much, much faster than its predecessor

One of the most important features of a fingerprint scanner is its speed. That, in addition to accuracy and security, is what matters most. Well, you’ll be glad to know that the second-gen Qualcomm 3D Sonic fingerprint scanner is 50-percent faster than its predecessor. That is also the last tidbit of information that Qualcomm decided to share with the public when it comes to this product.

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Optical vs ultrasonic

The vast majority of smartphone OEMs have been utilizing optical fingerprint scanners ever since they got released. Samsung did use Qualcomm’s first-gen 3D Sonic fingerprint scanner, though, in pretty much every single flagship smartphone ever since it was released. Well, it remains to be seen if more OEMs will adopt Qualcomm’s second-gen product, as it’s expected to be a major improvement.

It will certainly be interesting to see what will happen, as these ultrasonic fingerprint scanners are technically more advanced. If the second-gen 3D Sonic fingerprint sensor delivers, many more OEMs will be compelled to include it in its smartphones. Samsung will probably be first in line with the Galaxy S21 series, as this announcement came just in time for the Galaxy S21 launch.