Update March 4: The first phones with ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensors, the Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus, are now on sale.

Original story: It’s day one of Qualcomm’s annual Snapdragon Tech Summit in Maui, Hawaii, and the company has already announced its plans to develop the first 3D ultrasonic fingerprint sensor for smartphones.

The primary draw of the new sensor is its ability to read fingerprints through various contaminants like oil and water. Currently, most in-display fingerprint sensors use optical sensors, so they shine light up through the screen to read your fingerprint on the display. This can be inaccurate, as light diffracts through substances like water. With 3D ultrasonic technology, the device will read fingerprints through sound waves, mapping the peaks and valleys on a fingerprint to authenticate the user.

Optical sensors also require the user’s finger on a very specific part of the screen to read it. With 3D optical technology, the user can place their finger on a much wider area of the display and still be authenticated. The technology can also be embedded in the phone in a much more discreet manner, saving both space and thickness.

There are many more benefits to this technology, which our very own Robert Triggs already broke down.

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This technology will be enabled in devices on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 platform also announced today, though using it is completely up to the manufacturer. The various benefits it provides make it seem like a great option, but it will also likely cost a bit more to implement.

How do you feel about in-display fingerprint sensors? Are they worth it or do you prefer rear and front-facing options? Let us know!

We also talked about this on the podcast

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