Fingerprint Scanners on Smartphones: Why Side Sensors are Winners

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A Google Pixel 3 user reflects on how he used to love the fingerprint sensor at the back of his phone. He said he would just place a finger on it, wait a moment, then the phone would vibrate to confirm that everything is okay and thereafter open up. All that takes a fraction of a second! How nice! But lately, he has been using the Huawei Honor 20 Pro which has its own fingerprint scanner placed on the sides. How does he feel when he operates both phones? He isn’t sure yet.

A short history of fingerprint sensors shows us that back in those days when bezels were still bulky, manufacturers of smartphone wasted no time in putting the scanner at the bottom of displays. Apple, Samsung, Huawei and other phone manufacturers developed this habit that we couldn’t say was good or bad. They did it because obviously, there was nowhere else they could place it – or so they thought. They had little choice than to put a big home button on the bezel found at the bottom of phone display. People got used to it because it was all they ever know. However, bezels started to get small at first, and they started disappearing. Manufacturers started to get really creative with where they put the fingerprint scanner.

One of the first next area to put the fingerprint sensor was the rear of the mobile phone. Samsung, Google, and LG were trailblazers. Many smartphone users liked it and wanted it to continue. It was simple, just register one finger to use it and it’s enough. Furthermore, you can still hold your phone in the normal ways in which you used to and still operate the fingerprint scanner effortlessly. One more advantage to the rear fingerprint is that you don’t need to look before you can make use of it; just seek with the right finger and the finger easily falls into the space designated for it at the rear. It is hard to operate the in-display fingerprint scanner without looking at it. Nothing helps guide your finger towards it like you have when it’s situated to the rear of the mobile phone.

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So, what about the fingerprint on the side of the phone such as is available in Honor 20 Pro? I think most people are used to rear fingerprint scanners now more than any other type of biometric security. I stand to be corrected here but that’s what I have observed. Another phone that makes use of the side-mounted fingerprint sensor is Samsung Galaxy S10E. Sony has been making use of them for years and it seems no one is actually complaining but again I can’t be too sure.

But with the possibility of using up to five fingers on the side some users have recorded great experiences from using the fingerprint scanners placed on the side of a mobile phone. So, one advantage to the side sensor is that without picking up a mobile phone, and without really looking at it, anyone could just reach out to his or her smartphone and open it as it lays flat on a surface. With an in-display phone you have to look and carefully place your finger on the right spot. With rear fingerprint scanner, you have to lift up the phone. You don’t need any of such if the mobile phone has side biometric security. So for me, the side fingerprint sensor phone is the winner here.

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