Having taken a close look at the first smartphone to feature an in-display fingerprint sensor, ABI Research is betting that this technology could ultimately beat out facial recognition in the mobile authentication market.
Summarizing findings from its latest industry reports, the market research firm asserts that in-display fingerprint scanning technology could be more effective than facial recognition in facilitating smartphone makers’ drive to full-size displays with extremely thin or virtually nonexistent bezels. Of course, the first commercial implementation of this technology isn’t an ideal case: Assessing the pioneering Vivo X20 Plus UD, ABI Research VP Jim Mielke says that Vivo’s inclusion of a substantial lower bezel on the device suggests that company “may have been cautious to fully commit to the new technology and left room to fall back to a traditional sensor below the display,” adding that such caution was warranted given that the device’s Synaptics fingerprint sensor “seemed less responsive and required increased pressure to unlock the phone.”
Nevertheless, the firm believes that “[d]espite the non-optimal capabilities, the Vivo X20 Plus UD is well ahead of Apple’s face recognition technology,” with ABI Research analyst Dimitrios Pavlakis asserting, “Face recognition on smartphones is five times easier to spoof than fingerprint recognition.” It’s a take that contrasts sharply with Apple’s claim that its Face ID authentication system is accurate to one in a million users, a significant improvement over its Touch ID fingerprint scanning system, but Pavlakis insists that “Apple may be now forced to return to fingerprints in the next iPhone.”
Of course, other analysts have predicted that Apple is moving ahead full steam with its shift to facial recognition, with plans to make Face ID the key authentication mechanism in all of its new iPhones coming out this autumn, and maybe even in its new iPad devices. But in-display fingerprint sensor technology is evolving quickly, and a lot of smaller smartphone makers are leaping at the opportunity to incorporate this feature into new devices of their own, which could pressure Apple to embrace this functionality going forward, whether it sticks with Face ID or not.