So far, only two companies have smartphone fingerprint sensor that’s good enough to be useful: Apple (in the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6) and Samsung (in the upcoming Galaxy S 6).
But chip maker Qualcomm has a new device that everyone else can use, and it might be better.
At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Qualcomm announced a new fingerprint sensor called Snapdragon Sense that can read a user’s fingerprint even if it’s wet. It uses sonic technology to blast sound waves through moisture to get an accurate reading of your fingerprint.
The Snapdragon Sense has another advantage over the sensors used by Apple and Samsung: It can be embedded beneath steel, aluminium, or glass, so smartphone makers don’t have to show it on the surface of their devices if they don’t want to. Apple and Samsung embed their sensors in the home buttons of their phones, but many other smartphone makers don’t use home buttons, so Qualcomm’s sensor will likely be very appealing to them.
And naturally, the Snapdragon Sense can be used to enable mobile payments, logins, etc., just like the fingerprint sensors on Samsung and Apple phones.
Qualcomm is one of the biggest mobile parts suppliers in the world. Its chips and radios can be found in practically every tablet and smartphone available. Now that it’s selling this new fingerprint technology, you can expect a lot of its partners to adopt it soon in order to catch up with Samsung and Apple.
Qualcomm says you’ll start seeing the Snapdragon Sense in phones in the second half of this year.