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Samsung Galaxy S10’s ultrasonic fingerprint sensor: How it works and why is it better

Here's how the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor being used in the Samsung Galaxy S10 series of smartphones works.

Samsung Galaxy S10, Samsung Galaxy S10+, Samsung Galaxy S10e, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Samsung Galaxy S10 fingerprint sensor, Samsung Galaxy S10+ fingerprint sensor, Samsung Galaxy S10e fingerprint sensor, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G fingerprint sensor The advantage of having an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is that it works with wet fingers as well.

Samsung recently announced its Galaxy S10 series with four phones – Galaxy S10, S10+, S10e and S10 5G variant. On all three phones, except Galaxy S10e, Samsung has used Qualcomm’s new ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor, which is said to be more accurate, secure and work across a range of conditions than the optical in-display fingerprint sensor.

So, how does the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor in Samsung Galaxy S10 works? “When you touch the display, there is an electrical signal that is sent to the sensor and that signal is converted in to a pressure wave that goes and hits your finger and then gets reflected back,” Gordon Thomas, Director, Product Management – 3D Sonic Fingerprint Sensor at Qualcomm Technologies said in a media roundtable at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The advantage with ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is it works with wet fingers as well. The technology uses light from the display so users will not see that bright light shining from the display all the time as with optical sensors.

The technology is also more durable, claims Qualcomm and is not affected by image blur. According to Gordon, optical sensors have this issue where the phones get damaged in the fingerprint area over time, say a year and a half. It is also said to work well in bright sunlight.

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The company is also looking at adding a feature, where the under display sensor will itself be capable of waking the phone instead of relying on touch or power button or gyro as the case with the present in-display fingerprint scanners. “We can add additional features such as blood flow, heart rate monitoring, but it does not exist right now,” he added.

Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint sensor can not be spoofed easily, claims company, not by a photo of a fingerprint or fake fingerprint built with several materials. Gordon cited an example if when an oily residue of fingerprint is left on a phone and one takes a white glossy paper and stick it on the device, it unlocks it. This is not possible on phones with ultrasonic fingerprint sensor.

First published on: 26-02-2019 at 20:59 IST
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