Apple Already Has an Answer for Galaxy S10’s Best Feature

Apple has found a new method for getting Touch ID into iPhones. But will the technology find its way to this year's handsets?

The Vivo Nex S is one of the first phone with a fingerprint-reading screen. (Credit: Tom's Guide)

(Image credit: The Vivo Nex S is one of the first phone with a fingerprint-reading screen. (Credit: Tom's Guide))

The folks over at Patently Apple have uncovered a new Apple patent that describes a new method for biometric sensing in smartphones. The technology would use cameras that would live under the display and offset at certain angles. The cameras would then analyze your fingerprint as you place it on the screen and determine whether you should be given access to the iPhone or not.

Placing the fingerprint cameras at different angles appears to be an important component here. By analyzing your fingerprint from different angles, the cameras can see the ridges in your fingerprint, creating a 3D image that a controller inside the handset can analyze. The move should make for far more accurate fingerprint scanning than 2D scanners that only see your fingerprints and not the ridges on your fingertips.

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Biometrics has become a major topic of concern for smartphone makers and owners. Apple had offered its Touch ID fingerprint sensor for years in its iPhones. The technology was hardware-based and generally worked well.

Credit: Patently Apple

(Image credit: Patently Apple)

Last year, however, Apple ditched Touch ID in favor of Face iD. Apple's Face ID conducts a 3D scan of your face to determine your identity. Other phone makers offer facial recognition, but none of those solutions are as sophisticated as Apple's Face ID tech.

Meanwhile, has been said to be working on a virtual fingerprint sensor for years. But due to limitations in technology and cost, the company hasn't been able to get the feature to its smartphones. Now all signs are pointing to a possible launch in the Galaxy S10 early next year with an ultrasonic sensor

The Vivo Nex S is the first Android phone we've tested with a fingerprint sensor embedded into the display, but we found it to be finicky in our testing.

It's unclear from the patent what Apple's plans are. Like other big tech companies, Apple often files for patents on new technologies. It's possible the scanner will never makes its way to iPhones.

That said, Apple filed for the patent in January, after the iPhone X launched, suggesting that the company is still thinking about fingerprint scanners. And with a new slate of iPhones expected to be announced next month, there's a chance we could see the new Touch ID in those handsets.

Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.