The race to release a flagship smartphone that can sense fingerprints without a home button is on.
Synaptics, which describes itself as a “human interface technology” company, unveiled a new fingerprint sensor Tuesday. Notably, the Natural ID FS9100 optical fingerprint sensor can detect a print even through 1mm of glass, MacRumors reported. And because Synaptics is a Samsung manufacturing partner, the company’s new sensor could pave the way for a flagship without a home button. In fact, many rumors predict that the upcoming Galaxy S8 will ditch the iconic button.
If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because Apple’s rumored iPhone 8 is largely expected to feature a refreshed bezel-less design — and is rumored to be the first Apple flagship to ditch the home button. Though Synaptics has supplied Apple with components in the past, Cupertino is said to be working on its own proprietary solution to develop a sensor capable of working through glass. Apple was even awarded a patent in October for technology that could make it happen.
Synaptics said that its new sensor is thin and power-conscious, and unlike analog buttons, it’s scratchproof, waterproof and able to work with wet fingers. It even has a security function that lets it tell the difference between real and fake fingers — something that’s reportedly been a problem with other optical sensors, according to CNET.
And, since the new Samsung flagship is expected to be unveiled in early 2017, the Korean-based smartphone manufacturer might actually beat Apple in releasing a phone without a home button, according to PhoneArena.
The two smartphone giants aren’t the only ones looking into a flagship without a home button, however. Reportedly, Microsoft is looking into similar tech for its smartphones. And all three of those companies might have already lost the race to Chinese manufacture Xiaomi, which released the Mi Mix concept phone in November — a device that’s nearly bezel-less, and has no home button. In any case, an under-glass fingerprint sensor is looking like it’ll emerge as one of 2017’s biggest smartphone features.