More than 70 percent of all smartphones shipped next year — which could total over one billion — will have a fingerprint sensor on board, according to Counterpoint Research.
Fingerprint scanners on smartphones made their debut only four years ago. Initially only available on flagships, they quickly started making their way down to mid-range devices. These scanners have gotten a lot more affordable to produce over the years, which will now allow manufacturers to bring them to even more affordable handsets.
Smartphones with fingerprint scanners are in high-demand as they allow you to quickly authorize purchases with payment solutions such as Samsung Pay and Android Pay, use online banking, and, of course, protect the data on your device.
Chinese brands are already equipping their affordable handsets with fingerprint scanners in order to differentiate them from the competition. Based on the latest research, we’ll likely see bigger players including Samsung, LG, and Huawei do the same in 2018.
Fingerprint sensors are expected to remain the number one option for authentication despite all of the other solutions we’ve seen so far. These include iris scanners and face recognition, which hasn’t proven to be the most secure so far. However, they do have their safety concerns as well, with Neil Shah from Counterpoint Research saying that their reliability is a big problem, although things are expected to improve in the near future.
Reliability of the fingerprint sensor is a major issue, as most of the capacitive fingerprint sensors can be easily spoofed. However, with the latest fingerprint sensors that have live finger detection, or employ ultrasonic fingerprint sensing technology to create a 3D image of the fingerprints, it is potentially more secure and should be the next factor of differentiation for OEMs.
The majority of fingerprint sensors today are located either on the front, below the display, or at the back of smartphones. Starting next year, we’ll likely see a number of handsets with in-display fingerprint scanners, allowing you to unlock a device just by placing your finger on a certain part of the screen. These will initially only be available on high-end smartphones, but will likely make their way down to more affordable devices in the years to come.