Qualcomm unveils world's biggest fingerprint sensor for smartphones

Alonzo Simpson
December 4, 2019

And in tandem with this new report, Kuo also believes that Qualcomm and GIS (the manufacturer Apple is meeting with next week, according to the new rumor) will be involved. The new sensor is a lot larger, 17x larger to be exact, allowing for dual fingerprint authentication. 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.

Today, Qualcomm has announced the 3D Sonic Max fingerprint sensor, which is the successor of the 3D Sonic In-display fingerprint sensor it launched past year. The sensor is now big enough to cover nearly the entirety of the bottom half of a smartphone's display.

The new scanner, which should start appearing in smartphones next year, aims to take a major step forward ahead in biometric technology, not least in being able to scan two fingerprint at once for added security. Qualcomm says it is aiming for a million to one accuracy rate, which means the possibility of a random person unlocking your device without having his fingerprint registered is 1 in 1,000,000. That's made possible by the increased recognition area.

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What's disappointing is that the speed of the sensor remains the same. The first generation of the ultrasonic sensor, while novel because it was technologically different from optical sensors, was in practice much slower and less consistent than the competition.

Unlike the last 3D Sonic model, the updated 3D Sonic Max sensor identifies what it's sensing with ultrasonic waves on its own hardware and not via algorithms and processing somewhere else on the device. Since the new sensor covers a noticeably bigger area, Apple could very well consider using it on its iPhones.

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