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Vivo - the first smartphone with the Synaptics in-display fingerprint sensor

Dave SmartierDec 15, 20173 8083 votes +3 rating

Earlier this week, Synaptics announced that it’s cracked the problem of embedding fingerprint sensors into displays and is mass-producing the tech for a “top-five” smartphone vendor. Now we know the identity of that vendor, and it’s Vivo phone.

First smartphone with in-display fingerprint sensor

The In-Display Smartphone Fingerprint Reader technology:

The new sensor operates by one-touch, high-res optical scanning, through full glass, and, interestingly, through the display itself. It should be able to perform under virtually any condition that could befall a finger-be it cold, wet, dry... you get the picture. Optical scanning is different from other technologies like ultrasonic ones announced last year. This sensor is actually a CMOS image sensor, less than 0.7 mm thick, similar to what a camera uses. The OLED display illuminates the fingerprint, the sensor scans it and sends it back to the phone’s processor (or host or application processor, depending on your preferred term) to be matched. The sensor is also sturdy – both scratchproof and waterproof since it is protected by glass. Unlike 3D facial recognition, like Apple’s Face ID, Synaptics says Clear ID is twice as fast, doesn’t require user to be in line of sight and works well in bright light. I hear that Clear ID is two- to three times less expensive than Face ID, too, so cost is a consideration.

In a post for Forbes, analyst Patrick Moorhead detailed his experience with a pre-production Vivo phone equipped with the technology. Moorhead describes the sensor as “fast and simple,” while Synaptics claims it’s twice as fast as 3D facial recognition like Apple’s Face ID – though that’d be a hard thing to realistically measure considering the different mechanisms that each system uses in practice.

User’s opinion on a popular website:

If Apple truly abandoned fingerprint technology, then we have two pucks skating in different directions. It’ll be interesting to see which OEM bets on which technology (or some may decide to combine both). After a month plus of using FaceID, I think Apple made the right bet and fingerprint scanning feels like old tech. But we’ll see how it pans out.

Integrating fingerprint sensors into displays is seen as a way to include convenient biometric authentication on phones with “all-screen” designs. (Apple, of course, abandoned fingerprint sensors altogether with the face-scanning iPhone X.) And however well it works, Vivo’s decision to go with Synaptics seems like a blow to Qualcomm, which has also been working on the tech. Vivo showed off a Qualcomm-powered fingerprint-sensing display prototype earlier this year, but it was said to be noticeably slow.

User’s comment on a popular website:

I really thought it would be Huawei or LG, Vivo is basically irrelevant in the west. Last time I checked, USA is still the largest economy in the world. Vivo isn’t here because it can’t compete or knows it can’t break into the market. US of A is the weakest smartphone market in the modern world. It has been the weakest since the inception of the modern GSM phone. I’ve never seen more stupid or crippling device market offer than in nationwide carrier stores. For Christ sake Verizon still has Kyoceras. Because of those same Kyoceras and other crap we missed out on the great run of GSM phones that whole world has enjoyed. We ditched the European brand name phones for some stupid blank OEMs just like how we are turning the head away from leading Chinese brand names such as Huawei to try to sell more blank OEM.

Vivo might not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of major smartphone vendors, but it is one of the world’s biggest phone brands. It was ranked fifth in IDC’s Q1 2017 report, and while it went down to sixth in Q2, you could make the case for bundling it with fourth-placed Oppo since it shares the same parent company, BBK Electronics. Oppo also owns OnePlus, which is a much smaller brand but likely more familiar to Western readers. And Vivo’s recent success in India now sees it ranked third in the country, which Moorhead suggests will return the brand to IDC’s top five.

About Vivo. A young global smartphone brand focusing on introducing perfect sound quality and ultimate photography with cutting-edge technology, Vivo develops dynamic and stylish products for passionate young people. It develops and manufactures smartphones, smartphone accessories, software, and online services. Founded in 2009, Vivo has quickly expanded into markets in India and South East Asia.

At Vivo they are dedicated to the pursuit of perfection and continuously creating surprises for users through constant innovation. Pioneering the use of Hi-Fi audio chips in smartphones, Vivo created the very first smartphone with a dedicated Hi-Fi chip, the X1. Since then Vivo has remained committed to providing the very best possible audio experience to customers.

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