Has Samsung embedded a fingerprint sensor beneath the touchscreen on the Galaxy S5?

February 5, 2014 - 

Samsung will probably launch its new smartphone – the S5 – at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona later this month. That phone will also probably include a fingerprint sensor – but the kind of sensor (or how it is embedded) is what we’ll have to wait to find out.

Who knows – the S5 could launch without a fingerprint sensor altogether. But it probably won’t.

There have been many major rumors about Samsung and its plans for biometric functionality (or company acquisitions) in the last year that I’ll admit, I find both exciting and frustrating to cover.

The latest rumor comes from a “well placed insider” at Samsung India R&D that has told iTechAddict that the S5 will not only feature a fingerprint sensor, but that the “fingerprint sensor is the screen itself.”

This is pretty tricky language because it could mean a couple of different things. One reading of this is that the S5 will feature a fingerprint sensor embedded beneath the touchscreen that has some way to read fingerprints with the screen between the finger and the sensor. This isn’t entirely unbelievable, because this has been a goal of the sensor manufacturing community for quite a while.  It would certainly be cool, and would likely see other devices follow suit.

Another reading of this is that the entire screen could be used as a fingerprint sensor. This isn’t impossible, but it’s pretty unlikely considering its size and relatively small battery. 

We’ll see.

The fingerprint sensor rumor has some real credibility and it’s not just because of this new “well-placed” insider, but it’s because this rumor isn’t altogether new and because Apple’s new iPhone 5S smartphone also includes one (though it’s far from perfect).

There has also been some consistency to the idea that the screen and sensor will somehow be integrated together.

As we reported previously, an unnamed source told the Korea Herald that Samsung is looking to place a fingerprint sensor beneath the S5 device display.

It should also be mentioned that even earlier rumors came out of Korea to suggest that Samsung was going to shelve its “plans” for a Galaxy fingerprint sensor due to a low production yield of sensor chips. 

We’ve all been fooled before. Some mysterious images were uncovered in Samsung GS3 firmware files which looked like a graphical presentation of a vague fingerprint security system. That phone launched without a fingerprint sensor.

A little while later, the USPTO published Samsung’s patent application for fingerprint sensor integration, seemingly confirming a biometric system.

Samsung was also the subject of a peculiar story in 2013 when a press release was published alleging that Samsung had acquired Fingerprint Cards for $650 million. Both companies have confirmed that the announcement was fake, and the origin and intent of the bogus release is still being investigated, though there are signs that it could be related to an earlier Adobe hack.

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About Adam Vrankulj

Adam Vrankulj is an editor for BiometricUpdate.com. His background consists of online news writing, editing and content marketing. Adam has written for CBCNews.ca, BlogTO and was the editor and curator for the nextMEDIA and CIX Source publications. He has a degree in journalism and is passionate about science, technology and social innovation. Contact Adam, or follow him at @adamvrankulj