Skip to main content

This Could be the Galaxy S9's Star Feature

Samsung's Galaxy S8 was rumored to come with a fingerprint sensor baked into its screen, but it never happened. And signs point to the upcoming Galaxy Note 8 skipping this feature, too.

But now there's a very good chance that the Galaxy S9 won't force you to reach around the device to unlock your phone.

Credit: Jeremy Lips/Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Jeremy Lips/Tom's Guide)

Qualcomm on Wednesday (June 28) announced a new product called Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors. The feature uses ultrasonic technology to allow companies to bundle fingerprint-sensing technology directly into a smartphone's OLED screen, eliminating the need for a physical fingerprint sensor. Better yet, the technology can also work in glass and aluminum.

According to Qualcomm, it will make its technology available to handset makers this month, but doesn't expect it to find its way to devices until the first half of 2018.

MORE: Galaxy Note 8 Will Have Galaxy S8's Big Missing Feature

Qualcomm's announcement could bolster some reports that Samsung is thinking seriously about bringing the technology to next year's Galaxy S9.

Several reports surfaced earlier this year that claimed Samsung was working on a fingerprint sensor that would be baked into the device's screen. And while the Galaxy S8 shipped with a screen that left no room for a physical home button, the fingerprint sensor was ultimately moved to the back.

According to reports at the time, Samsung couldn't get the fingerprint sensor to work properly, leaving it with no option but to stick to a physical version.

Once the Galaxy S8 launched, rumors surfaced that Samsung was experimenting again with a virtual sensor in the upcoming Galaxy Note 8. But Samsung quickly responded to those reports in Korean news outlets, saying that it had tried to bake the fingerprint sensor into the screen but ultimately couldn't get it to work. Samsung said that it faced both technical and security issues.

Now, though, Qualcomm is providing another option. And the company's mention of a first-half availability for next year suggests Samsung's Galaxy S9 might be among the first to offer the feature.

Don Reisinger is a communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter who has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine and The New York Times, as well as Tom's Guide.