The latest rumors are indicating that Samsung will not be adding an in-display fingerprint sensor to its next generation of foldable smartphones. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 are expected to hit store shelves in the third quarter of the year, and will reportedly feature a side-mounted capacitive fingerprint sensor instead of the in-display alternative.
Prognosticators had previously predicted that this year’s devices would feature an in-display sensor after reading a Samsung patent filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization. That patent detailed a system that used two separate fingerprint sensors to make sure that users could unlock the device when it was closed and when it was unfolded. The two sensors would be linked to the same printed circuit board, and positioned in such a way as to make them accessible to users when the phone is in different configurations.
However, Samsung has apparently concluded that the system worked better in theory than it did in practice, at least from a user experience perspective. The reports indicate that Samsung was able to get the system to work, but the positioning of the sensors was simply less convenient than a single side-mounted sensor for devices with a foldable form factor. Much of that has to do with the way that people hold such devices, insofar as people can place their finger on a side-mounted sensor to unfold and unlock their phone in one fluid motion.
Prior versions of the Galaxy Z Fold and Galaxy Z Flip smartphones (including the most recent third generation) have placed the fingerprint sensor in the power button. The decision to continue with a side-mounted design lends credence to FPC’s prediction that the market for capacitive sensors will remain strong despite the growing prevalence of in-display models. Samsung has also filed a patent application for a system that could read someone’s heart rate when a foldable device is held in certain configurations.