May 8, 2021

Qualcomm’s second-gen ultrasonic fingerprint reader is larger and faster

You won't be quite so frustrated when unlocking your phone.

qualcomm 3d sonic sensor gen 2 ultrasonic fingerprint reader

Credit: Qualcomm
  • Qualcomm has introduced the 3D Sonic Sensor Gen 2.
  • The next-gen ultrasonic fingerprint reader has a larger scanning area and is much faster.
  • The first phones to use it will arrive in early 2021.

Are you still frustrated with the accuracy and responsiveness of ultrasonic fingerprint readers in phones like the Galaxy S20? You might not be with future phones. Qualcomm has introduced a 3D Sonic Sensor Gen 2 that promises to alleviate many of the headaches of earlier reader technology.

The new ultrasonic sensor boasts a 77% larger fingerprint reader area that captures 1.7 times more data than Gen 1, Qualcomm said. More importantly, it’s about 50% faster than its predecessor. You should not only spend less time worrying about where to place your finger, but unlock your phone that much quicker.

See also: How fingerprint scanners work — capacitive, optical, and ultrasonic

The updated sensor is also just 0.2mm (0.008in) thick, making it practical for edge-to-edge flexible OLED displays in foldable phones. It still offers an advantage over capacitive sensors by recognizing your fingers even when they’re wet.

Qualcomm expects the first phones using its new ultrasonic fingerprint reader to be available in early 2021. The company didn’t name manufacturers or devices, but the Galaxy S21’s January 14 debut is right around the corner. It won’t be surprising if Samsung uses Qualcomm’s newest fingerprint sensor in its 2021 flagships given the two companies’ history, and we’d expect other Android phone makers to follow suit.

It’s uncertain how well the improved reader will work in practice. It’s well-timed, however. Given an ongoing pandemic where mask use makes face recognition impractical, it’s more important than ever to have fingerprint sensors that work quickly and reliably.

NEWSLETTER | The Daily Authority

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