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We asked, you told us: The best place for a fingerprint scanner is...

This week's poll asked where you want the fingerprint scanner to be housed: front, back, side, or one of the new options. Your votes were split.

Published onJuly 7, 2018

Unlocking our smartphones was once a fight between PINs, passwords, and patterns, but the current champion in fingerprint scanning technology has become rock solid. It’s just a case of where that matters.

There’s rarely a phone that doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner these days. Sony’s very unique problems stopped them releasing phones into the U.S. with an active fingerprint sensor for years, a particularly poor experience given it was still an issue last year. Even then, Sony was one of the outliers offering a fingerprint sensor on the side (Sony has since moved it to the back like many other smartphone brands). The best Android smartphones have a mix of options, but it’s not all just frontside, or back.

There are two emerging trends: face unlocking, which has varying degrees of security depending on the sensing technology being used, and fingerprint scanners hiding underneath the display. In-display fingerprint scanners are now appearing in first-generation smartphones such as the vivo Nex. As cool as they are, they require a little patience at times, as unlocking with them can be slow or unreliable. There’s also an argument that this is just another feature that makes a phone harder to fix and more expensive to buy.

So when we asked about the best place for a fingerprint sensor two years ago, having the fingerprint on the back won out over on the front by a few clear percentage points. Two years later, with face unlock and under-display fingerprint sensors now part of the landscape, what would you guys vote for?

Here’s how more than more than 51,000 of you voted on the website poll, on our YouTube poll, and on Twitter:

Here’s what we’re taking away from these results:

  • The votes were pretty even across each platform, with “on the back” the most popular result for where you want your fingerprint sensor, followed by “under the screen,” with “on the front” in third.
  • What was a close result between “back” and “front” last time we asked has now become an easy win for “on the back.”
  • Or is it? Given that “under the screen” also naturally has to be “on the front,” it could be argued that front-plus-under-the-screen can be added together, which would narrowly beat the back option in all the results. It’s not the same thing of course, though.
  • Not many of you just want face recognition, but that might be a little bit of the old ‘no thanks Apple’ opinion at play. And “on the side” barely rates either.
honor 10 fingerprint sensor

The comments were pretty black and white. You guys have strong opinions on where you like the sensor to be and a lot of ‘you’re wrong, I’m right’ type comments. Preferences are preferences, people, not a reason to start an argument! There were lots of strong comments on how useful the side fingerprint scanner is, even if it didn’t poll that well too.

Here’s what you were saying as the voting went down:

  • Under the Screen: I will not buy another phone unless it has a fingerprint scanner under the screen. The rear fingerprint scanner to me has always been a workaround solution, kind of like the notch (from Android Authority’s man with the news and views C Scott Brown).
  • Front: Picture this….you have your phone set on top of your desk and all you have to do is place your thumb on the sensor and you’re using your phone…..instead of picking it up then unlocking it then using it.
  • And in response to that: I keep my phone face down to avoid the screen turning on and bothering me, so a front-sensor doesn’t help at all.
  • Side: Can’t believe how people are ignoring the fact that side mounted fingerprint scanners (like on previous Xperia’s) is the most practical and natural implementation, especially on smaller “Compact” phones…
  • Back: It’s way easier to reach when you take it out of your pocket in my opinion. It’s where your finger naturally rests.
  • The real question is how much an under-the-screen fingerprint scanner is worth. I’d take a more affordable phone with a back scanner because touching the back is acceptable to me.

It’s clearly important to you! Who knows how the options and opinions might evolve in the next two years!

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