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Analyst says under-display fingerprint sensors may force Apple to return to fingerprints for next iPhone


Despite Vivo not fully committing to under-display fingerprint technology from Synaptics with its X20 Plus UD smartphone, it may still force Apple back to fingerprints for the iPhone, according to a Teardown report from advisory firm ABI Research.

Vivo’s decision to include what ABI calls a “significant border below the display” positions it to walk back its commitment, according to an announcement.

“Vivo may have been cautious to fully commit to the new technology and left room to fall back to a traditional sensor below the display,” said Jim Mielke, ABI Research’s vice president of the Teardowns service. “The performance of this first implementation does warrant some caution as the sensor seemed less responsive and required increased pressure to unlock the phone.”

The increased pressure required that Mielke refers to was not obvious to Biometric Update in a demonstration of the technology in February.

Despite its non-optimal capabilities, ABI says the biometric technology in the Vivo X20 Plus UD is well ahead of Apple’s face recognition technology, and notes that the support of financial institutions and payment providers makes fingerprint technology increasingly relevant.

“Face recognition on smartphones is five times easier to spoof than fingerprint recognition,” stated ABI Research Industry Analyst Dimitrios Pavlakis. “Despite the decision to forgo its trademark sapphire sensor in the iPhone X in favor of face recognition (FaceID,) Apple may be now forced to return to fingerprints in the next iPhone.”

Vivo followed the X20 Plus UD with a pair of smartphones integrating optical in-display fingerprint sensors. The X21 UD features a sensor from Synaptics, and the X21 integrates one supplied by Goodix.

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