Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 will miss out on this key feature

Galaxy Fold 2
An unofficial design for the Samsung Galaxy Fold 2. (Image credit: Ben Geskin)

The Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 is expected to miss out on the ultrasonic fingerprint sensors used on other Samsung phones, while rival foldable phones will launch with the technology in the next few months.

This threat to Samsung comes from chip maker Qualcomm's new partnership with display manufacturer BOE (via CNET). The deal will unite Qualcomm's 3D Sonic sensors with BOE's flexible displays. The partnership will also include work in "XR" (virtual and augmented reality) and smart home technology.

Most smartphones with fingerprint scanners use optical sensors, which use light to scan, save and recognize prints, much like a standard camera. Qualcomm's ultrasonic sensors, currently only used by Samsung on the Galaxy S20 series, Galaxy Note 10 series and the Galaxy S10 series, use sound waves to map your finger instead. 

Samsung claims this version of fingerprint-reading tech is faster and more secure than optical fingerprint scanners found in the likes of the OnePlus 8 Pro. However, some users find it's slower to register touches than an optical scanner, and before a major software patch it was possible to trick the sensor using a screen protector.

BOE is the second-largest display maker in the world (Samsung is number one), and claims to be the largest in the smartphone space. Its products have found their way into foldable phones such as the Motorola Razr (2020) and also the Huawei Mate X and Mate Xs, as well as standard phones made by companies like Oppo and Nubia. 

Foldable phones typically use side-mounted capacitive fingerprint sensors for security, but the Qualcomm-BOE partnership could mean future generations of foldable phones could be fitted with the same kind of fingerprint sensors as the slate-format phones that we're used to.

Qualcomm and BOE estimate the first devices resulting from this new deal will appear in the second half of this year. That could mean we see a Chinese rival to the Galaxy Fold 2 (expected to launch around August) get revealed with an under-display fingerprint sensor. While we're anticipating multiple upgrades to the Fold 2, including new cameras, stronger build quality and upgraded internals, an under-display fingerprint scanner isn't one of them.

The Galaxy Fold 2 is expected to launch at the same time as the Galaxy Note 20, which based on the Note 10 will include an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner. This phone is also expected to include a large 120Hz display, cameras from the Galaxy S20 Plus or Galaxy S20 Ultra, an upgraded S-Pen with new gestures and perhaps even an under-display camera, at least based on current rumors doing the rounds.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.