Falling parts prices drive in-display fingerprint biometrics to mid-range smartphones

A reduction in sensor prices and narrowing price gap between OLED and LTPS LCD panels are driving continued growth for OLED panels with in-display biometric fingerprint sensors in the smartphone segment, industry sources tell Digitimes.

The adoption of OLED panels with in-display biometrics for mid-range models by a number of manufacturers, including Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo have significantly expanded the size of the market, according to the report. Samsung Display is currently the world’s largest supplier of rigid OLED panels, and the sources say the company has implemented a strategy to bring down its OLED prices to ramp up its sales.

The introduction of optical fingerprint sensors by Synaptics and Goodix in 2018 allowed manufacturers to support full-front displays with competitive pricing. Synaptics VP of Marketing Godfrey Cheng told Biometric Update in a demonstration of the technology in early 2018 that optical sensors and full-front OLED screens are an ideal match.

The price difference between OLED and LTPS LCD panels has fallen recently to less than $5 per unit, and combined with falling sensor prices will limit LTPS LCD screen sales in 2019. Falling sensor prices in the smartphone segment are part of the reason some incumbent suppliers, such as IDEX, have pivoted to other markets, such as biometric payment cards.

China-based AVC Revo estimates overall shipments of LTPS LCD panels for the handset sector will decline by 30 million units this year. Total smartphone shipments in the Chinese market are expected to grow from 98 million in Q1 2019 to 100 million in Q2, according to the same AVC Revo report.

A market analysis by IHS Markit earlier this year suggested that capacitive fingerprint sensor shipments peaked in 2018, with optical and ultrasonic sensors used for in-display smartphone sensors.

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