At the Snapdragon Tech Summit, Qualcomm introduced its second-generation 3D Sonic Max ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner. The new scanner is not only bigger but also more secure in nature.
Qualcomm says the new sensor is 17 times bigger with a size of 20mm x 30mm. The bigger size allows the scanner to read two fingerprints at once which can be used by banking apps or other scenarios where even tighter security is required. The sensor is now big enough to cover almost the entirety of the bottom half of a smartphone’s display.
Another benefit of the bigger sensor is that it will register your fingerprint at one go instead of requiring users to tap on their phone’s display multiple times.
The bigger sensor area also makes it more secure since the scanner is able to get a complete picture of one’s fingerprint. Qualcomm’s initial 3D Sonic sensor found on the Galaxy S10 had a major security loophole that allowed anyone to bypass the fingerprint scan by using a cheap screen protector. The bigger sensor area of the 3D Sonic Max solves that issue.
What’s disappointing is that the speed of the sensor remains the same. Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint scanner has been panned for being slow and so it is disappointing to see the company not fix this issue on the second generation of the sensor.
It is unclear which all OEMs will use Qualcomm’s new 3D ultrasonic sensor on their devices in 2020. There are reports of Apple using the sensor on at least one of the three iPhones that it plans to launch in 2020, though there is a possibility of the timeframe slipping to 2021. Since the new sensor covers a noticeably bigger area, Apple could very well consider using it on its iPhones.
There have been rumors of the company working on offering both Face ID and in-display Touch ID on its 2020 or 2021 iPhone. If Apple does end up going with Qualcomm’s solution though, it will be interesting to see how it solves the slow unlock speed of the sensor.