Since a few years ago, biometric security has crept into our smartphones and has come to stay. Already no need to unlock the phone with a password or a pattern, simply use the fingerprint. In addition to increasing security, this system provides comfort, but for that fingerprint sensor has to be well integrated in the design, something that not always happens.
The fingerprint scanner has become an almost essential feature in any high-end self-respecting and is becoming more common to see it in mobile mid-range. The design of the main teams manufacturers have fixed the placement of the finger sensor in different ways, But what is the best?
Why do we want a trace on the mobile sensor?
Biometric security consists in the identification of people based on their physical characteristics, aspects such as the iris of the eyes, the shape of the face, voice or fingerprints are unique to each individual and in addition can not be forgotten as often happens with passwords.
Apple integrated its first fingerprint sensor in the 5s beyond iPhone Home button by 2013 – although to be fair, before it was Motorola with its Atrix in 2011, which the sensor integrated in the rear. Other brands followed and today is a regular feature on smartphones, even new applications from this technology have been developed as in the case of the mobile payments.
And above all, have a fingerprint sensor in the phone is more convenient. We avoid us having to type passwords, validate purchases… and all simply by putting your finger on the sensor. The sensitivity and precision of the sensor are also important, but we must not forget other factors as be easily accessible or that your form won’t break with the design.
Differentiation is key in a sector such as the mobile phone and fingerprint sensors are not spared. Although most brands are betting on the same technology, we have seen several different proposals in terms of design, each one with its advantages and disadvantages.
1. in the Start button
It is one of the most common solutions and also the most comfortable. Fingerprint sensor is on the front of the device so that we can quickly access with your thumb when we are holding the phone or using the index if it is on a table and we don’t want to take it.
The downside of the physical home button is that it enlarges the design to occupy space at the bottom and it does not wrap to the screen edge. It is the case of the iPhone, which have a design more elongated than the majority of terminals with the same screen size with his iconic round button.
Samsung also integrates fingerprint sensor in the front button, but in your case the key has a more elongated shape and get a more balanced ratio of screen. It is similar to what selected HTC for the sensor of the newly presented 10 HTC, a good example of how to integrate a fingerprint sensor and respect the design.
Size is not the only problem with the finger sensor front, that privileged position can spoil the design If it is not well integrated. We have the latest example with Moto Z of Lenovo, a mobile phone that boasts a 5.2 mm thick aluminum chassis design. Its forms are smooth and rounded and goes and placed a square fingerprint sensor in the Centre. Not just visually wrong, but that it seems that takes more space than it should.
2. on the back
Many of the smartphones that come with fingerprint sensor mounted in the rear housing, where there is more than enough room to place it without affecting it at all the size and It is much more discreet.
One of the first models to integrate a sensor behind, just under the camera was the giant HTC One Max and gradually we have been seeing it on more and more smartphones, especially phablets. Huawei also bet on this system with the Huawei Mate and his series Star, who this year was expanded with Huawei P9.
Google introduced support for traces with 6.0 Android sensors Marshmallow and of course their new phone, the Nexus 5 X and Nexus 6 p had with this technology. The Mountain View, by the hand of Huawei and LG, also chose the rear area to locate this piece.
The sensor in the rear is comfortable if we are holding the phone in the hand because we can get to it easily with the index finger. In addition the grip is safer because no move the thumb, so it is convenient especially in mobile large. The downside is that If we have left the phone on the table we have to take it whenever you want to see something.
3. on the side
Sony refused to integrate fingerprint sensors on their mobiles until last year when they launched the Xperia Z5 range, and the way in which solved it surprised by its originality. The latest flagship of Sony sensor goes integrated in the power button, which is located on the right side half-height device.
The proposal is the most successful from the point of view of design. The button is compact and is very well integrated, so it seems not even containing a fingerprint sensor. Despite initial doubts, traces of Sony sensor works very well and can be reached easily with your thumb, but only if you are right handed. Some left-handed users have complained that it is difficult to reach the sensor unless you use the phone with the right hand in the larger models, Sony Xperia Z5 compact it is a problem.
The future of fingerprint sensors
Fingerprint sensors landed on our smartphones relatively recently but have already become an almost indispensable element. They are fast and accurate, but still have much to improve on the design section.
As of the fingerprint sensor integrated directly on the screen of the mobile It is a fairly recurring rumor that moment has not become reality, although thanks to the prototype of LG we know that technically it is possible – now only have to wait until it reaches the market.
The problem of damage or enlarge the design is finished with fingerprints on the screen sensor. The sensor would be literally invisible and to be under glass, it would be much stronger, both possible scratches and liquids.
Apple has also been repeatedly suspected of wanting to hide the TouchID sensor under the screen, and some people say that we will see in the iPhone 7s. Device that outline some rumors may also have a screen that would occupy all the front and would wrap fingerprint sensor, microphone and camera up front. Time a rumor is unconfirmed, but the intention of brands by hiding this piece is quite clear. Now to wait.