Samsung could be planning a big change to the fingerprint sensor for next year's Galaxy S9.
The Korean giant has filed a patent with KIPRIS, South Korea's patent and trademark organization, for a technology that would allow it to bundle a fingerprint sensor on the front of future smartphones. The sensor would allow Samsung to create a small recess in the Galaxy S9's display and bezel area that would house a speedy and exceedingly small fingerprint reader, according to SamMobile, which earlier discovered the patent.
Samsung's Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 garnered generally strong reviews when they came out this year, but Samsung took some flak from reviewers and users for the phones' rear fingerprint sensor. Not only was the sensor on the back of the phone, but Samsung placed it awkwardly next to the rear camera lens. That design decision made the sensor difficult to reach, with users sometimes smudging the camera lens with their finger.
According to reports, Samsung had hoped to offer a virtual fingerprint sensor baked into the screen with its Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8. However, the company could not get the virtual sensor to work properly, leaving it with no other option but to add a physical sensor to the handsets.
Samsung has said that it's working on getting a virtual sensor to work, but there's also talk that the company might scrap the fingerprint sensor entirely and work on getting a higher-end 3D face scanner working. That would put the Galaxy S9 in direct competition with Apple's iPhone X and its Face ID unlocking technology. The move might ultimately make the smartphone fingerprint sensor obsolete.
But before we get too far afield with the possibility of the Galaxy S9 coming with a small, embedded sensor, it's worth noting that Samsung, like other companies, files for patents all the time. And although it might have considered the technology, there's no telling whether it might actually find its way to a future device. Samsung, after all, is still considering a virtual sensor.