The fingerprint sensor is finding its way into the mid-range of the smartphone market. Once the preserve of the flagship device, the technology is becoming more common. With this, manufacturers are becoming increasingly competitive and fingerprint senor tech is becoming cheaper as a result.
Indeed, companies making smartphones can now purchase a fingerprint sensor for US$2, with some manufacturers selling them for less.
This has implications for companies who are unwilling to reduce their prices. These manufacturers will be priced out of the maturing market and will likely be forced out entirely.
Fingerprint scanning on smartphones is not a particularly new thing. In fact, it has been on devices going back around a decade. It was always a hit or miss functionality on largely unpopular products. That changed when Apple ushered in the modern fingerprint sensor implementation with the iPhone 5s.
It is arguable the Cupertino perfected the form at first time of asking. Certainly, few other handsets have matched the placement and accuracy of Apple's unit. Nevertheless, Apple introducing the tech opened the door to major market penetration.
The iPhone is the single best-selling smartphone on the market. Within months, fingerprint sensor tech was in the hands of tens of millions of people. Moreover, other companies jumped on board to match Apple and create competition.
We are now at a stage where a fingerprint scanner is a standard specification for devices at a certain price point.
Qualcomm Bringing the Next Wave
As smartphone manufacturers turn towards all-screen devices, we are arriving at the first major junction for fingerprint scanning technology.
Sure, many companies place their sensors on the rear of a handset and will be unaffected by the all-screen revolution. However, that implementation has always felt counter intuitive, which is why Apple's front-mounted (in the Home button) sensor hit a home run at first attempt.
Apple is rumoured to be working on placing the sensor inside the screen for the all-display iPhone 8. While that may be the case, Qualcomm has beaten the company to the punch.
At the Mobile World Conference earlier this year, the company introduced its under-screen fingerprint sensor. Last week, Chinese company Vivo became the first to bring the technology to a smartphone.