May 21, 2013 -
This morning, fresh rumors suggest Samsung could be working on its own plans to embed a fingerprint sensor in its Galaxy devices.
According to a tip sent in to SamMobile, deep inside the leaked Galaxy S3 firmware files, images were uncovered which appear to show vague plans for a fingerprint-based security system (below). As of yet, it’s unclear what this represents, though it certainly looks like it could be the basis for a fingerprint sensor embedded in the phone’s home button.
As we’ve reported extensively it’s widely expected that Apple will release two new phones: one that will likely be called the 5S with a fingerprint sensor, and a cheaper model that will likely be made of a different material and probably won’t include the rumored fingerprint sensor.
It’s important to remember that this is all speculation, and that nothing has been confirmed. This is only a representation of the most prevalent theories on iPhone development today. Many Apple rumors have proven themselves to be completely wrong before.
Here’s what we know:
In 2012, Apple purchased AuthenTec for approximately US$356 million. AuthenTec specializes in strong fingerprint-based security, ideal for mobile devices.
Later in the year, it was reported that AuthenTec would stop selling fingerprint technology to any of Apple’s competitors, starting in 2013. This included a significant list of existing customers such as Samsung, HP, Dell, Lenovo and Fujitsu.
Despite many who believed Apple’s iPhone 5 would even contain a fingerprint sensor, the device was launched sensor-less in the fall.
In October 2012, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple a patent for biometric-sensor handheld devices that recognize a user by the image of their hand. Specifically, Apple patented the use of a biometric fingerprint sensor that is concealed behind a closed window on an iPhone.
As we reported in March, leaked photos purporting to show components from the new iPhone cast doubt on a fingerprint sensor embedded in the device’s home button.
The next iPhone was set to be released this June, though it’s possible the device’s anticipated fingerprint sensor is causing a delay and will push that date deeper into the calendar year, as reports have emerged suggesting Apple has been having problems with its work implementing the rumored sensor.
We’ve written extensively about smartphone biometrics, and as the Biometrics Research Group argues, it’s likely the next round of smartphones will incorporate biometrics to some degree, and it’s expected that this integration will be driven by major manufacturers.