Clunky, inaccurate in-display fingerprint scanners could become a thing of the past as Qualcomm plans to debut 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 that we saw on the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S20 series.
Tech enthusiasts reading this might recall that in 2018 Qualcomm introduced the first generation 3D Sonic sensor which used ultrasonic waves for authentication. While it was more secure compared the optical fingerprint sensors that we are used to, the major chink in its armour was the fact that it was noticeably slower than its supposedly ‘inferior’ optical brethren. It was also famous for not working well with wet fingers. Nevertheless, Samsung continued using the same sensor on the entire lineup of its flagship devices in 2019 through 2020.
Not any longer.
Larger is (almost) always better when it comes to sensors
The new 3D Sonic Gen 2 fingerprint sensor from Qualcomm – which is very likely to make its debut with the Samsung Galaxy S21 lineup – brings significant improvements over the previous model. The first and probably the biggest (pun intended) difference between the older and newer sensor is the sheer difference in size. At 0.79 x 1.18-inches, the new sensor is significantly larger than its predecessor that measured just 0.16 x 0.35-inches across. For those who do not understand the math, the new sensor is a massive 77% larger than its predecessor.
Qualcomm claims that the new sensor is not only 50% faster, but also works much better with wet fingers. The larger physical size of the sensor is what lets it capture 1.7x more biometric data, making it even more secure and faster than the previous model.
What is also interesting is the fact that the 3D Sonic Sensor Gen 2 – in spite of its size – isn’t the largest ultrasonic fingerprint scanner made by Qualcomm. That honour is reserved for the company’s 3D Sonic Max sensor which the company showcased at the Snapdragon Tech Summit in 2019. This season, unfortunately, hasn’t made an appearance on a smartphone yet.
With the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S21 just days away, chances are high you will get the opportunity to use this new in-display fingerprint sensor very soon.