Fingerprint sensors will still be the first choice for most Andriod phones in 2018, since other biometric authentication methods available for Andriod phone makers cannot completely replace fingerprint identification yet, says TrendForce. Meanwhile, in-display fingerprint sensors are expected to make breakthrough this year, and vendors like Samsung, LG, OPPO, Vivo, Xiaomi, Huawei are likely to embed this technology, bringing the global fingerprint sensor penetration rate in smartphones to 60%.
Apple acquired Authentic in 2013 and have embedded fingerprint scanning in iPhones and iPads since then. In the past years, Android camp has also adopted fingerprint scanning to unlock phone and make mobile payment. However, as full-screen becomes the trend and Apple replaces Touch ID with Face ID in 2017, Android camp has to adjust their strategies, says TrendForce.
The mainstream fingerprint recognition solutions are based on capacitive sensing technology. On other hand, designs of smartphone displays are shifting towards higher screen-to-body ratio and full frontal screen. Phone makers recognize that there is insufficient space for the front side of the smartphone for a standard capacitive fingerprint sensor, and thus put their focus of development on in-display fingerprint sensor in recent years. At the end of 2016, Synaptics released UnderGlass, an optical solution of fingerprint sensing, which overcomes the limitation that capacitive solutions cannot sense through the glass panel of phones. Recently, Synaptics also released new in-display fingerprint sensing solutions for AMOLED panels. After more than a year of development, Synaptics’ optical solutions of in-display fingerprint sensing have chance to enter mass production due to the increasing yield rate of Synaptics and other related companies.
Capacitive fingerprint sensing chips and TDDI chips used to be the key product lines of Synaptics from 2016 to 2017. But as the competition becomes intense, Synaptics has started to actively develop in-display fingerprint sensing technology. Its competitor Goodix, for instance, has recently sent sample products to major mobile phone vendors for testing; Qualcomm has cooperated with Vivo in developing ultrasonic fingerprint sensing in 2017; FPC, the Swedish biometric authentication solutions provider, also released its ultrasonic fingerprint sensing technology at the end of 2017. The active engagements of these companies indicate that in-display fingerprint sensing will bring about a new trend for smart phones.
In addition to Korean brands Samsung and LGE which make AMOLED panels by their own, Chinese smartphone brands such as OPPO, Vivo, Meizu, Gionee, Xiaomi and Huawei will also have chance to embed in-display fingerprint sensor for AMOLED panel in their new models to release in 2018. However, Samsung still dominates global production capacity of AMOLED panels, which will limit the scale of Android camp’s adoption of in-display fingerprint sensing in their flagship models. As the result, a large number of middle and low end smartphones will continues to use traditional capacitive fingerprint sensing that has costs less. TrendForce estimates that global smartphone shipments for this year will total around 1.53 billion units, in which the penetration rate of fingerprint recognition technologies will reach 60%, an increase of five percentage points up from 55% of 2017.