Qualcomm’s under-screen fingerprint sensor arrives in a phone


Vivo’s concept video shows the fingerprint’s under screen.

Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET (Vivo)

First came fingerprint-enabled buttons. Next, expect screens with fingerprint sensors included.

Qualcomm unveiled its own under-screen fingerprint-sensing technology at Mobile World Congress 2017 in Shanghai, and Chinese phone maker Vivo is the first to use the technology in a phone. A video, released by Vivo, shows off the idea in action (as a concept).

The technology uses piezoelectrics to send ultrasonic waves through the display glass to read fingerprints. It will even work with wet fingers — so it’ll come in handy with water-resistant tech, too. 

Vivo is using the tech in a modified Vivo XPlay 6. Mashable reported the news yesterday before the phone’s debut at Mobile World Congress. According to Richard Lai of Engadget, the fingerprint scanning is a little laggy on the prototype.

According to Qualcomm’s press release, the tech will be available as an integrated solution for Qualcomm Snapdragon, and for non-Snapdragon hardware. The ultrasonic technology can work through OLED displays, glass, or aluminum, and will arrive in two waves: Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors for Glass and Metal, and Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors for Display. OEMs will get a chance to use the glass and metal-working version this month, but won’t get the display-enabled sensor until the fourth quarter of this year. Phones could ship with the hardware by the first half of 2018, according to Qualcomm, who explained the technology to CNET during an MWC Shanghai briefing.

Apple’s iPhone 8 has been reported to have an under-the-screen fingerprint reader. The technology clearly exists already. There’s also a chance that other phones might emerge with the tech before Apple’s next iPhone event happens.

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