Vivo, not Samsung, could be first to put fingerprint sensors into phone screens

Less is more. That’s the mantra of phone designers in 2017, as manufacturers race to integrate fingerprint sensors into phone screens and make standalone sensors obsolete.

But who will be first to the finish line?

For a long while, Samsung seemed positioned to win, but recent rumors out of China suggest Vivo, followed closely by Apple, could actually take the honor.

According to Jiutang Pan, a reputable researcher that specializes in tracking the Chinese mobile supply chain, Vivo could release a phone with a fingerprint sensor integrated in the display in the next few months.

Pan shared a brief video showing the feature in action. It’s not clear if users can unlock the phone by touching any part of the display or just a specific region.

Apple could be the first non-Chinese manufacturer to offer the feature on the iPhone 8, expected this fall, Pan said.

An unrelated report from Korea claims two other Chinese phone makers are planning to release phones with in-display sensors – Xiaomi and Huawei. The report also mentions Vivo, but it doesn’t suggest Vivo would be the first to market, like Jiutang Pan claims. Huawei is said to add the feature to the P11, expected in the first part of next year.

What about Samsung? The Korean giant tried and failed to embed a fingerprint sensor supplied by Synaptics into the Galaxy S8’s AMOLED display. Reportedly, the project ran out of time, and Samsung had to settle to mount the sensor on the back of the Galaxy S8. Now it looks like the feature won’t be ready in time for the Galaxy Note 8 either. At least Samsung has its iris scanner to fall back on to, though the technology can’t replace fingerprint sensors in every situation.

Regardless of who ultimately wins this race, it’s likely that the time of dedicated fingerprint sensors – and, through extension, of power buttons – is running out.