Identity Switch

Touch or Swipe? Picking a Fingerprint Sensor Type.

According to an article from SamMobile, Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S6 will contain a touch rather than swipe fingerprint sensor for user authentication. Swipe sensors require the user to drag a fingertip across the scanner, but this often entails a two-handed operation that makes use in some circumstances — like when carrying shopping — impractical.

Touch sensors, in contrast, need only a single, quick press with a finger or thumb. Apple’s Touch ID provides users with accurate authentication at practically any angle.

CCS Insight believes there are about 20 fingerprint sensor-enabled smartphones and tablets on the market, half of which are Apple or Samsung products. Most top smartphone brands have yet to introduce a fingerprint sensor-enabled phone, but we believe this will change with several upcoming iterations of flagship devices. Apple’s introduction of Apple Pay last year warmed up the market to the concept of biometrics-authenticated payments, providing a clear case for fingerprint sensors beyond simply unlocking the device.

Apple’s implementation of Touch ID has received consistent praise, but Samsung’s swipe sensor appears to be hit-or-miss among consumers, with some pointing to finicky scans and limited uses. We expect a switch to touch-based fingerprint scanners could address these issues.

AuthenTec, Fingerprint Cards and Synaptics are currently the three main fingerprint sensor suppliers, the latter two the key fingerprint component providers to Android makers. Sales and penetration rates to date have been disappointing — CCS Insight estimates that only 12% of smartphones shipped during 2014 had fingerprint sensors. However, we expect this to double within three years, and that the choice of touch-type sensors will increase. In addition to the potential of Samsung, we point to the popular Huawei Ascend Mate7, which has a touch-based sensor on the back of the device. As with most sensors, with time, fingerprint scanners will be found on almost 100% of smartphones.