Qualcomm has just announced itself a major player in the supply of fingerprint sensors, as it's announced it will be one of the, if not the first company to produce under-display sensors.
Announcing them at MWC Shanghai, Qualcomm says its next-generation fingerprint sensors will use ultrasonic technology, something that Xiaomi used on the Mi5s.
By being based on ultrasonic tech as opposed to capacitance, Qualcomm says the new sensors, which can be fitted under displays along with metal and glass bodies, will be able to "scan through OLED displays up to 1200um".
Note how only OLED displays get a look in, that means LCD displays won't work with the new technology. However, if a phone doesn't have an OLED display, it can still have a fingerprint sensor embedded in the rear panel if it's made from glass or aluminium. Sensors will be able to scan through up to 800um of glass, or 650um of aluminium.
The Qualcomm fingerprint sensors will also be able to detect your heartbeat and blood flow, whether the screen is on or off, and can even work underwater.
Perhaps the biggest news from the announcement is that the Qualcomm fingerprint sensors can be used with non-Qualcomm processors, opening up their application to pretty much every phone on the market and positioning Qualcomm as a major player for the supply of sensors.
It will be some time before we see the under display fingerprint sensors implemented, as Qualcomm says commercial samples of the sensors will be available for manufacturers in late-2017 to early-2018. We should see the first phones to feature them arrive in late-2018, which could have an impact on the flagship phone releases next year.
The first phones to feature the glass and metal sensors should arrive in early 2018.
The idea of under display fingerprint sensors is nothing new, it's an idea that many phone manufacturers have been toying with for some time. Samsung was expected to feature one on the Galaxy S8 and S8+, but that never came to fruition, then it was expected the Note 8 would have one instead. A recent set of leaked renders suggest that now won't be the case.
Apple may have cracked it though, and is said to be using an optical-based fingerprint scanning technology for an embedded sensor on the iPhone 8.