Conflicting reports: fingerprint vs. facial recognition for Android smartphones

Android smartphone manufacturers are rushing to integrate under-display fingerprint sensors in their devices and avoiding 3D facial recognition, or are adopting 3D facial recognition, according to a pair of somewhat contradictory reports.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that multiple Android device manufacturers will adopt time-of-flight (TOF) sensors for 3D facial recognition, including Huawei, which will release the first Android smartphone with the technology late this year or in 2019, Apple Insider reports. TOF systems are less expensive than the TrueDepth technology included in the iPhone X.

Kuo has previously suggested that Samsung will not launch the Galaxy Note 9 with an under-display fingerprint sensor, though more recent reports contradict this claim.

Sources also told DIGITIMES that Android OEMs are rushing to integrate under-display fingerprint sensors, and avoiding the $60 cost of 3D facial recognition modules like TrueDepth. The Huawei Mate 11 is expected to launch in the second half of 2018 with an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor from Qualcomm. Qualcomm is reported to be working with Taiwan-based GIS and Chinese touch screen company O-film Tech on the solution, which can work through cover glass up to 800 microns thick, and identify wet or greasy fingers.

Concerns about possible patent infringement are motivating Chinese vendors to avoid integrating 3D facial recognition technology in smartphones offered to international markets, DIGITIMES reports.

It is possible that both reports are accurate, and that Huawei will indeed release both a device with an under-display fingerprint sensor and another device with 3D facial recognition over the next year or so, which would enable them to address market demand both for all-display devices and for 3D facial recognition. It is also possible that the sources are overstating the certainty of the manufacturers about which direction to take.

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