Clunky and inaccurate on-screen fingerprint scanners could become a thing of the past as Qualcomm plans to launch its new 3D Sonic Gen 2 fingerprint sensor with the Samsung Galaxy S21 series later this week. The new, much larger fingerprint sensor is the successor to Qualcomm’s first-generation 3D sonic sensor we’ve seen on the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S20 series.
Tech enthusiasts reading this may recall that in 2018 Qualcomm introduced the first-generation 3D Sonic sensor that used ultrasonic waves for authentication. While it’s safer than the optical fingerprint sensors we’re used to, the main flaw in its armor was the fact that it was noticeably slower than its supposedly “inferior” optical brethren. He was also famous for not functioning well with wet fingers. Nonetheless, Samsung continued to use the same sensor across the entire lineup of its flagship devices from 2019 to 2020.
Bigger is (almost) always better when it comes to sensors
Qualcomm’s new Sonic Gen 2 3D fingerprint sensor – which will most likely debut with the Samsung Galaxy S21 range – brings significant improvements over the previous model. The first and probably the biggest difference (pun intended) between the old and the newer sensor is the size difference. At 0.79 x 1.18 inches, the new sensor is significantly larger than its predecessor which was only 0.16 x 0.35 inches in diameter. For those who don’t understand the math, the new sensor is 77% larger than its predecessor.
Qualcomm says the new sensor is not only 50% faster, it also performs much better with wet fingers. The larger physical size of the sensor allows it to capture 1.7 times more biometric data, making it even more secure and faster than the previous model.
What’s also interesting is the fact that the 3D Sonic Sensor Gen 2 – despite its size – isn’t the largest ultrasonic fingerprint scanner made by Qualcomm. That honor is reserved for the company’s 3D Sonic Max sensor that the company showcased at the Snapdragon Tech Summit in 2019. This season, sadly, has yet to hit a smartphone.
With the Samsung Galaxy S21 launching in a few days, there’s a good chance you’ll have the option to use this new in-display fingerprint sensor very soon.