Looks like Apple is once again steering the smartphone market towards embracing new technologies and setting trends. As per renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Android hardware vendors are now showing increased interest in 3D sensing technology, the same one that features on the new iPhone X.
Appleinsider accessed a report from Kuo which says that under-display fingerprint tech has taken a backseat as far as Android makers are concerned, while inquiries into 3D sensing technology have tripled at the least.
The iPhone X features a 3D depth sensing camera at the front, which is not only essential for its Face ID unlocking feature, but also for Augmented Reality applications. Apple’s Animojis can imitate human faces with high accuracy going by what we saw during the iPhone X launch presentation. The feature is exclusive only to the Tenth Anniversary iPhone X. Given the AR and facial recognition capabilities of a 3D sensing system, Kuo writes, "We therefore believe brand vendors are willing to spend more for related components."
Before its TrueDepth camera system became official, Apple was also believed to be working on display embedded fingerprint technology, but may have ditched it at the last moment in favour of the 3D sensing technology. According to rumours, the Cupertino-based company had to pick 3D sensing after hitting a couple of technical roadblocks with the under-display fingerprint tech.
Chipmaker Qualcomm is currently the only one to announcing its next-gen ultrasonic fingerprint reading technology. The company managed to create a sub-display fingerprint reader and showcased the technology at the Mobile World Congress this year. Not only does Qualcomm hold the high card when it comes to under-display fingerprint tech, it has also created an interesting 3D depth sensing solution in collaboration with Himax. The new tech enables computer vision capabilities for uses such as biometric face authentication, 3D reconstruction, and scene perception for mobile, IoT, surveillance, automotive and AR/VR.
As per Kuo’s report, Android makers are seeing traditional capacitive sensing systems as spec upgrades and are more interested in the experience 3D sensing technology has to offer. He believes that shipments of Android devices with 3D sensing technology will outnumber those with display embedded optical fingerprint solutions by at least two-three times in the next two-three years.
Kuo goes on to explain that under-display fingerprint technology works best with OLED displays, which as per as per recent reports, are in high demand and low supply. Hence, the compatibility of 3D depth sensing technology with LCD displays is what makes it more attractive for Android device makers.
Lastly, in a separate note, Kuo sort of confirms that Samsung’s upcoming Note 9 flagship smartphone will feature a display embedded fingerprint scanner. It only makes sense as Samsung has the market monopoly when it comes to OLED components. As per Kuo, the Galaxy Note 9 will release sometime in the second half of 2018 and will feature a compact image sensor (CIS) design instead of "CIS+independent light emitter" for an under-display fingerprint reader. Samsung should be able to customise their own flexible OLED displays with a CIS design.