Rave reviews for the iQOO 9 Pro smartphone’s fingerprint sensor may offer a clue about where the mobile biometrics industry is headed.
The recently launched device comes by way of a Vivo subsidiary – the eponymous iQOO – and is focused primarily on gaming and other performance-heavy activities. To most consumers, the phone is probably most notable for its BMW-affiliated branding, with the associated BMW M Motorsport colors striping down the device’s rear face. But reviewers have also been noticing the performance of its in-display fingerprint sensor.
“I reviewed the iQOO 9 Pro here at Android Police a while back, but there is one thing I just can’t get over, even a few weeks later,” wrote Android Police’s Manuel Vonau. “Its ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner is incredibly fast.”
XDA’s Ben Sin, meanwhile, called the fingerprint sensor “awesome.”
“When I first set up the iQOO 9 Pro, I was stunned to see that registering my fingerprint took half a second — just one tap, and it was ready,” he wrote, adding later that authentication is seamless. “This is the first scanner in which I don’t have to hold my thumb in place for a beat — even if I tap the screen and immediately pull away, it’s enough to unlock.”
The mobile experts both noted that the iQOO 9 Pro is the first internationally available smartphone to feature Qualcomm’s third-generation 3D Sonic Max fingerprint sensor, and they both dwelled on the fact that it’s ultrasonic. This distinguishes the 3D Sonic Max from the kinds of optical sensors offered by the other major vendor of in-display sensors, Goodix.
The distinction is especially important in the wake of Google’s high-profile fiasco with the poor performance of its Pixel 6 smartphone’s in-display fingerprint sensor, whose unreliability and sluggish performance caused a lot of consternation among reviewers and consumers. The Pixel 6 made use of an optical fingerprint sensor.
Most consumers ultimately won’t care what kind of fingerprint sensor a device uses; they just want it to work well. But smartphone makers are likely paying attention. In-display fingerprint scanning is the big new trend in mobile biometrics alongside selfie-based authentication, and a growing number of smartphone brands have sought to include it to help increase the appeal of their devices. Now, after a critical consensus found that the Pixel 6’s optical sensor was the clear flaw in an otherwise good phone, and with the iQOO 9 Pro’s ultrasonic sensor making waves among phone reviewers, we may see more smartphone makers integrating the latter kind of sensor going forward.