In-display fingerprint scanners are one of the most worked upon features of the smartphone industry. Chinese smartphone company Vivo pioneered the technology that allows people to unlock their smartphones simply by touching their displays. Other players, like Oppo, OnePlus and Huawei quickly caught on to include the technology in their smartphones.
The technology relies on an optical fingerprint sensor, which uses a light source to capture a high-resolution photograph of your fingerprints and uses algorithms to identify unique patterns. To capture a high-resolution image, it requires a light source, which has to be strong enough to illuminate your fingerprint. The problem arises when the light has to hit the sensor after bouncing back from your finger. As a result, this tech can work only with OLED displays, since an LCD’s backlight can get in the way.
The first generation of in-display fingerprint scanners has been criticised for being small, slow and unreliable. Huawei Mate 20 Pro and OnePlus 6T have one of the better ones, and they still suffer from the same issues.
Xiaomi has been particularly slow in adopting this technology—Mi 8 is the only smartphone from the Chinese manufacturer to sport the in-display scanner. However, president and co-found Lin Bin recently posted a video on the Chinese social media platform, Weibo, showing off Xiaomi’s own version of the technology.
According to Lin, Xiaomi’s scanner has the dimensions of 25mm x 50.2mm, which is reasonably bigger than most other thumbprint sized in-display sensors. The scanner can also wake up the smartphone, putting an end to button presses.
Xiaomi is not the only company working in this area though.
Vivo with its Apex concept showed off a concept phone last year with a “half-screen" sensor. The sensor covered nearly a third of the screen in reality and failed to make it to the Vivo Nex which was supposed to be the production version of the Apex concept.
Interestingly, two other top birds in the game, Apple and Samsung haven’t implemented or even showcased this technology in the form of a concept—even after a year of its introduction. So it all boils down to which player will first commercialise this technology.
Lin hasn’t revealed when the scanner might hit Xiaomi smartphones, but it seems like a step in the right direction.