Huawei Mate 10 sequel will reportedly have Qualcomm’s ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor
Qualcomm first demoed its ultrasonic fingerprint sensing technology in July in collaboration with Vivo. Since then, we haven’t heard anything about the company’s ultrasonic fingerprint sensing tech. The Vivo X20 Plus UD is the world’s first phone to feature an in-display fingerprint sensor, but it uses Synaptics’ optical fingerprint sensor instead. Now, a report by Digitimes states that Android smartphone vendors are rushing to incorporate in-display fingerprint sensors in their 18:9 phones. This is because the vendors have “turned conservative” about adopting 3D sensor-based face recognition modules that are said to be too costly to afford.
The report states that the successor of the Huawei Mate 10, tentatively termed as the Huawei Mate 11, will feature Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint solutions. The phone is said to be rolled out in the second half of 2018. The ultrasonic fingerprint sensing feature is expected to act as a new sales driver for after shipments of the Huawei Mate 11 begin to ramp up in late Q3 or early Q4 2018.
According to the report, Qualcomm has teamed up with Taiwan-based GIS and China’s O-firm Tech (both companies specializing in offering touchscreen solutions) to turn out its ultrasonic fingerprint sensors. The sensors are expected to be adopted by more Android smartphone vendors in China and other Asian brands in 2019.
Digitimes adds that Qualcomm’s sensors are three times more expensive in unit cost than traditional counterparts. However, its module is only about 0.44mm thick, and it can work through up to 800-micron cover glass, compared to only 200-300 microns in glass thickness for traditional capacitive sensors. Interestingly, Qualcomm’s sensors are also said to be able to work when wet or greasy, unlike the traditional sensors seen in phones today. If this plays out in practice, this can eliminate one of the major shortcomings of current fingerprint sensors.
Why are Android smartphone vendors not adopting 3D-based facial scanning sensors? According to the report, this is because the unit cost for 3D sensors used in the iPhone X is $60. The technology involves substantial developments in software, hardware, and system integration that pushes up smartphone costs.
The high cost of the iPhone X and worries about possible patent infringement by their in-house 3D sensors has resulted in the decreased willingness of Chinese smartphone vendors to adopt 3D face recognition modules into devices dedicated for international markets. Instead, the vendors would apparently rather adopt 3D sensors in smartphones intended for domestic markets to test market responses and reduce possible risks. For international devices, the vendors would prefer to use ultrasonic fingerprint sensors.
It’s important to note that this report is based on unnamed sources and it may be incorrect. We have seen many conflicting reports about in-display fingerprint sensors in the past, so we are going to wait and see how things play out.