Sunday Debate: Which Fingerprint Scanner Placement is Best?

Sunday Debate: Which Fingerprint Scanner Placement is Best?

Join us in a fun Sunday Debate on Fingerprint Sensors. Come with your opinions and feel free to read some of our thoughts, then pick your side or play devil’s advocate to get your voice heard and engage in friendly discussion. You can read our food-for-thought or jump straight into the fray below!

Fingerprint scanners are here to stay, and while not everyone agrees that it should be such a prominent authorization method, the technology and its possibilities have expanded dramatically in these past few years.

Now Android has native fingerprint scanner support in Android Marshmallow, and the new Nexus phones come with a nice sensor on the back as well. It is now useful not just for unlocking one’s phones, but also for authorizing payments in places like the Play Store. Google is also being thorough with the fingerprint scanner requirements in the CDD, so that future applications of the technology are safer and neater. And if that wasn’t enough, these scanners have only been getting faster over the years.Yet there is still one thing being debated, and that is where the fingerprint scanner works best:

Since the Atrix and up until 2015 Nexus phones, the fingerprint scanners of Android have been switching spots to experiment with the perfect location and scanning method. Right now, the three main spots look to be the front or home button, the back, and the side or power button. Rather than just think of this subjectively, we want you to also argue for the ergonomics of each implementation as well as any possible issues that can arise. So we ask:

  • Which are the pro’s and con’s of each fingerprint scanner location?
  • Which is the most efficient location, and why?
  • Which implementations have you tried, and on which phones?
  • What is another location or implementation you think would benefit the technology?

Join the discussion!

The Front

Phones like the Note5 and the OnePlus 2 feature fast scanners at the bottom of the front, but not all fingerprint scanners are buttons, as some simply have a depression that you place your finger upon. These scanners can be operated with your thumb, which is always at the front of the phone when holding the phone one-handed. However, depending on the size of the phone, reaching to the bottom center of the device may require hand-gymnastics that can put one’s device at risk.

The Back

The LG V10 and the new Nexus phones opted for placing the sensor on the back, where they are easily accessible with the index finger, which naturally rests around that area anyway. That coupled with the tactile cues put in place makes it easy to unlock your phone before you are done taking it out of your pocket. The main issue one can find with this, however, is the fact that the phone is not easily unlockable when the phone is laying on its back. It’s also worth noting that while big phones put the front scanner at risk, small ones require extra travel.

The Side

The Xperia Z5 is a notable exponent of another implementation, which has you unlocking your phone among other functions from the side and through the power button. With the Z5, you can just click the power button and with a small pause, you will be able to unlock the phone The way the Z5 pulled it off, however, might not appeal to everyone, given the depression of the power button in a world of clicky outwards keys. It also makes for a wider button instead of the slits and circles we are typically used to.

Debating

Fingerprint sensors will only become more popular on Android, and it’s natural that OEMs will experiment with more alternatives. Things like fingerprint sensors on the glass sound like appealing options, but for now these three popular one offer pros and cons. Which one do you think is best, and why?

  • Which are the pro’s and con’s of each fingerprint scanner location?
  • Which is the most efficient location, and why?
  • Which implementations have you tried, and on which phones?
  • What is another location or implementation you think would benefit the technology?

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