The first commercially available phone with a fingerprint scanner embedded under the display glass will come in the first quarter of 2018.
Unfortunately, it will not be Apple or Samsung who will be the first with the technology, but instead it will be Vivo, a Chinese company that does not officially sell its phones in the United States. Still, we expect it to be first of many and other mainstream brands may follow suit if the technology works well (and that is one important ‘if’).
This first under-screen fingerprint scanner is developed by Synaptics with its Clear ID FS9500 chip, a small CMOS device placed below an AMOLED screen. It illuminates the finger, so that the fingerprint scanner can read the reflections of the finger scan and work its magic.
While we are a bit disappointed that we are not likely to see a Galaxy S9 with an in-screen finger reader, this is good news for China and the Asian market. Vivo is big in China and it’s part of the giant BBK Electronics parent company, the same company that also owns Oppo and OnePlus. While you might be most familiar with OnePlus, it is actually the smallest of the three phone makers under BBK ownership.
As to the technology behind the in-display fingerprint scanner itself, carrying the model name Clear ID FS9500, it is designed to work with phones with an 18:9 and 20:9 orientation. These are the new breed of taller, usually “bezel-less” phones.
The new in-screen sensor is a small CMOS device placed below an AMOLED screen. In order for it to work, the finger has to be illuminated, so that the fingerprint scanner can read the reflections of the finger scan. To create this reflection, part of the screen has to light up, and then the finger reader will capture the reflection between the AMOLED pixels. Synaptics says that the fingerprint scanner itself is very frugal, consuming merely 80mA of power. The whole setup also uses the built-in accelerometer in the phone and other sensors to know when to activate the fingerprint reader and light up the appropriate part of the display