Earlier this week, Synaptics announced that it's cracked the problem of embedding fingerprint sensors into displays and is mass-producing the tech for a “top-five” smartphone vendor. Now we know the identity of that vendor: it's Vivo.
In a post for Forbes, analyst Patrick Moorhead detailed his experience with a pre-production Vivo phone equipped with the technology. Moorhead describes the sensor as “fast and simple,” while Synaptics claims it's twice as fast as 3D facial recognition like Apple's Face ID — though that'd be a hard thing to realistically measure considering the different mechanisms that each system uses in practice.
Here are some pics @anshelsag and I took of the Vivo smartphone with the Synaptics in-display fingerprint reader. The CMOS image sensor is .7mm thick and reads the fingerprint right through the OLED display. The experience was faster than I expected. pic.twitter.com/u1NFpXtFQM— Patrick Moorhead (@PatrickMoorhead) December 14, 2017
Integrating fingerprint sensors into displays is seen as a way to include convenient biometric authentication on phones with “all-screen” designs. (Apple, of course, abandoned fingerprint sensors altogether with the face-scanning iPhone X.) And however well it works, Vivo's decision to go with Synaptics seems like a blow to Qualcomm, which has also been working on the tech. Vivo showed off a Qualcomm-powered fingerprint-sensing display prototype earlier this year, but it was said to be noticeably slow.
Vivo might not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of major smartphone vendors, but it is one of the world's biggest phone brands. It was ranked fifth in IDC's Q1 2017 report, and while it went down to sixth in Q2, you could make the case for bundling it with fourth-placed Oppo since it shares the same parent company, BBK Electronics. Oppo also owns OnePlus, which is a much smaller brand but likely more familiar to Western readers. And Vivo's recent success in India now sees it ranked third in the country, which Moorhead suggests will return the brand to IDC's top five.