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Hardware Technology

Why Samsung Ditched On-Screen Fingerprint Scanning For Galaxy S8 (theinvestor.co.kr) 71

An anonymous reader shares a report: Samsung Electronics' upcoming Galaxy S8 is unlikely to feature on-screen fingerprint scanning after its touch sensor partner Synaptics ran out of time for developing the related technology, industry sources told The Investor earlier this month. On-screen fingerprint was a highly anticipated function for the new phone with a larger-than-ever display screen. "Samsung poured resources into Synaptics' fledgling technology last year but the results were frustrating," a source briefed on the matter on condition of anonymity. "With the production imminent, the company had to decide to relocate the fingerprint scanning home button to the back of the device at the last minute." A larger screen that covers almost the entire front body is a key feature for the S8. Since last year, Samsung had made all-out efforts to embed a fingerprint scanner under the display to allow users to unlock the phone by placing their finger on the screen, not the physical home button on the bottom.
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Why Samsung Ditched On-Screen Fingerprint Scanning For Galaxy S8

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  • rear is better (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bhcompy ( 1877290 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2017 @02:02PM (#54038181)
    Rear fingerprint scanning is the better option for large format phones anyways. This is one thing that LG has managed to get right recently.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 14, 2017 @02:07PM (#54038229)
      The "larger than ever" screen is a requirement for some of us to use penisprint scanning functionality.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I imagine the facial recognition will take care of that for you.

    • Yeah, but LG put the power button on the back, too, so you gotta be careful setting them down. Volume buttons there too. It also seems to be more of an issue in a pocket.
      • You don't have to be careful. The volume and power buttons are recessed into the rear casing.
        • Well I encountered âproblems with it, however I managed it.
          • Which phone? The G4, G5, V10, and V20 all have raised camera apertures that are next to the power buttons(which are all flush or recessed compared to the body), and on the G3 the camera aperture is flush but the power button is recessed. There is no way to set the device down on a flat surface and push the power button without bending the phone enough to crack the screen.
    • Rear fingerprint scanning is the better option for large format phones anyways.

      This does not make sense to me, given both the way people hold phones and how their hands are generally configured.

      • Re:rear is better (Score:5, Informative)

        by bhcompy ( 1877290 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2017 @03:30PM (#54038765)
        Grip around sides.. index finger rests right in middle, where the scanner is. The only time that doesn't apply is when holding landscape style.

        When gripping the phone to activate frontal fingerprint readers you actually need to let the phone hang loose a bit to get the thumb onto the reader, which is problematic on large format phones. I have an iPhone 7 and an LG V20. The V20 is more natural to hold and activate.
        • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

          Grip around sides.. index finger rests right in middle, where the scanner is. The only time that doesn't apply is when holding landscape style. When gripping the phone to activate frontal fingerprint readers you actually need to let the phone hang loose a bit to get the thumb onto the reader, which is problematic on large format phones. I have an iPhone 7 and an LG V20. The V20 is more natural to hold and activate.

          This likely may apply to you and those who happen to have hands and fingers similar to yours and prefer to hold their phones like you do. Otherwise, it'll be a little off or even in the way. Kind of like how the volume toggle is on the wrong side of an ipad/iphone as far as I'm concerned, especially when in landscape mode.

          • by pthisis ( 27352 )

            Whether you keep your fingers on the rear or the sides of your phone, you definitely don't hold it with your fingers on the front. They'd block the screen. The rear may not be absolutely ideal for everyone, but it's at least a reasonable choice (from personal experience, the top placement like the old Motorola Atrix had was fine, as is the rear placement on the Nexus 5x; you adjust pretty quickly to either).

            But the front screen is the one place that people--for good reason--actively avoid having their fing

            • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

              But the front screen is the one place that people--for good reason--actively avoid having their fingers rest when holding the phone, and thus the worst possible location for a fingerprint sensor.

              Which is why that's the best place to put a scanner, you'll only scan when you explicitly want to scan, and not inadvertently.

      • by Rob Y. ( 110975 )

        Because for the most part, the only time you use the fingerprint scanner is to unlock your phone. And if you keep your phone in your pocket, it's pretty easy with a rear fps, to learn how to unlock it by touch so that when you pull the phone out, it's already unlocked. You probably don't want to be trying to maneuver your fingers to activate a front-bottom FPS while you're pulling it from your pocket - unless you really trust your gorilla glass. Yes, for those times when you want to unlock your phone whi

    • I agree, my first phone to have fingerprint was the Note 7 and although I absolutely loved everything about the phone after trading it in for the Pixel (which I absolutely hated) I must say the fingerprint in the back was 1 of the very few things I found worked better over the Note 7. You always have a finger in the back of the phone so you don't have to move a finger at all to unlock the phone and although it seemed like a small thing it really did help tremendously. Again I hated the Pixel, but I couldn
    • Personally I hate having the fingerprint scanner on the back, I think it's one of the most stupid of recent phone "innovations". It's way too easy to accidentally unlock the phone when you're putting it into your pocket (as has happened numerous times for me). It's also easy to accidentally slide down the notification bar by moving your finger on the back while holding the unlocked phone (I know you can disable this feature). I'd much rather have the front surface touch-sensitive, and the back surface and s
    • If the scanner is on the side of the phone then it has the ergonomic benefit over the home button scanner, and the practical benefit of being usable while the phone is flat on a table. Plus on the side is likely where the lock button is anyway and is where your thumb will naturally fall while taking the phone out of your pocket, so it will be already unlocked when you bring it up to your face. Unfortunately Sony are the only company that do this that I know of
      • Unfortunately Sony are the only company that do this that I know of

        I like the placement of it and their phones look fantastic, but Sony's prices are ridiculous.

  • by backslashdot ( 95548 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2017 @02:11PM (#54038257)

    That's just your preference, but remember not everyone likes it in the rear.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Every phone seems to have a back door, so it's not like you have a choice.

    • OP3 FTW!
  • Well, anything they wanted to do in the S8 that didn't make it into the final product is something they have another year to work on to get it in the S9. So if you don't like the S8 design, stick with an older phone for one more year. And remember that you can get an S7 at a steep discount now, and that will only get better.

  • by davecb ( 6526 ) <davec-b@rogers.com> on Tuesday March 14, 2017 @02:17PM (#54038309) Homepage Journal

    If you use your username as a password, don't be surprised if you open yourself up to a police- or borderguard-ordered search. And of course, next week crooks will get your print and 3d-print a thumb.

    • Still more secure than that swipey pattern thing which one can shoulder-surf from three desks over. And wasn't there a recent ruling that being ordered to unlock a phone with a fingerprint amounted to self-incrimination?
      • And wasn't there a recent ruling that being ordered to unlock a phone with a fingerprint amounted to self-incrimination?

        No. There was a recent ruling, but it was very much the opposite of what you just said.

    • If you could be certain that passwords were unique, there would be no need for a username. Your password is just a unique identifier, as is your username.

      • Oh come on, just think about that for a minute. I'm setting up a new account and the system asks me to choose a password. I type in CorrectHorseBatteryStaple and the system replies that I can't use that as it's already in use.

        With no usernames and the password as the only identifier, I now know someone's sign-on identifier. How well do you really think that would work?

    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      Fingerprints are neither username nor passwords. They are a "what you are" authentication factor and a very good way to secure a physical device like a phone.
      A variety of techniques can be used to defeat fingerprint scanners in the same way that locks are pickable. Still, it requires dedication : first steal the phone, then pick up fingerprints, make the fake finger and unlock. It is also common to require a password in addition to the fingerprint if the phone hasn't been used for some time. For most people

  • DNA? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DogDude ( 805747 )
    So people are already giving Google (and their customers) all of their personal data. This would allow people to give Google (and Google's customers) their fingerprints. Why stop there? Why not just give away DNA, as well?
    • This would allow people to give Google (and Google's customers) their fingerprints. Why stop there? Why not just give away DNA, as well?

      I tried doing that and all I got was a restraining order in return. ;)

    • Why not just give away DNA, as well?

      Google owns 23andme.com People aren't giving away their DNA, they are paying for the privilege of it being stored.

    • by Ksevio ( 865461 )
      Yes, people provide their fingerprints because it provides an easy way to secure your device against the average person that might try to break in while still being quick and convenient to unlock. They aren't doing it because they love providing their personal data to a large corporation. If giving Google DNA led to some other convenience, you can be sure that people (Google's primary customers) would be doing that too.
    • This would allow people to give Google (and Google's customers) their fingerprints

      Yeah, no. Doesn't work like that.

      • by DogDude ( 805747 )
        Yeah, no. Doesn't work like that.

        Why not? The EULA says that Google owns all the data in your Android phone.
    • by torkus ( 1133985 )

      You do realize that's not how fingerprint readers work, right?

      To over-simplify, they basically take a hash of your fingerprint and compare that with the stored hash. Yes, a full fingerprint (and 3d printing etc) can get you back to that hash, but you can't build a fingerprint FROM it.

      • by DogDude ( 805747 )
        I understand that's how they're supposed to work. I really doubt that Google would leave any data on the table, though.
  • If they were going to put the fingerprint scanner in the back, they should have gotten rid of the front facing camera too and put a display on the back. With even a small rear display, the bezel on the front facing side can be eliminated entirely. Sure the phone might be slightly thicker but it would look awesome. As for the speaker grille .. I suppose you can have one that is nearly invisible, have it face a different way, or deal with not having one.

  • Without it, the S8 is far less hot. Maybe Samsung is not interested for the S8 to be a really explosive handset.
  • While I agree with eliminating bezels, I am not sure i like phones getting so rectangular. Get rid of the bezel but don't F up the aspect ratio.

  • by Ayanami_R ( 1725178 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2017 @03:08PM (#54038621)

    I disable the fingerprint stuff as soon as the device arrives, I don't even power it on until that thing is not working. That data is being siphoned by someone, somewhere.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Consider what the NSA and CIA did with phones and smart TVs - get them to listen in even while turned "off". This is why you don't want a finger print scanner integrated in your screen. Even if you think you turned it off, what is the software really doing? Such as collecting all finger prints in the world.

      • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

        If a government wants fingerprints, it just needs to ask.
        In many countries, fingerprints are required to get an ID card or a passport. They are also often taken as you cross a border. This is not secret data.

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Worse than that.

      A bit of wood glue and carbon paper and you can take a snapshot of a fingerprint smudge on a screen, and turn it into an authenticatable fingerprint in about five minutes.

      All fingerprint readers suffer the same problem, to differing degrees, but a fingerprint is bog-useless for "securing" your phone. It's literally in the "prank on your friends" territory to unlock it.

      There's a reason that my Samsung shows several different lock screen methods (swipe, PIN, passcode, etc.), each with a secur

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <{ten.frow} {ta} {todhsals}> on Tuesday March 14, 2017 @04:16PM (#54039095)

        Worse than that.

        A bit of wood glue and carbon paper and you can take a snapshot of a fingerprint smudge on a screen, and turn it into an authenticatable fingerprint in about five minutes.

        All fingerprint readers suffer the same problem, to differing degrees, but a fingerprint is bog-useless for "securing" your phone. It's literally in the "prank on your friends" territory to unlock it.

        There's a reason that my Samsung shows several different lock screen methods (swipe, PIN, passcode, etc.), each with a security (High Security, Medium Security, Low Security, etc.) underneath and the fingerprint one? It says NOTHING underneath. Just a blank space where they should be saying "Waste of time"

        The point of the fingerprint reader is not for security, but for convenience.

        Apple found a LOT of people did not put even a 4-digit PIN on their phones. Why? Because the users found it too inconvenient. And the average use case bears this out - a phone is interacted with hundreds to thousands of times a day, and each interaction lasts only a few seconds - either to glance at a message, check out information, etc. For these uses, entering a PIN takes a few MORE seconds, easily doubling the interaction time.

        Instead of grouping interactions together so one unlock you do many things, Apple discovered users were simply disabling the locks so they didn't have to bother with the PIN codes that delayed the interactions. Thus, it ended up with something like 75% of all phones, despite having the capability for locking access down, were left in the open state.

        Hence the fingerprint reader - it allowed the user to put on a lock on their phone, but also allow a quick unlock for interactions.

        A fingerprint is not secure - even Apple treats it as such, which is why the fingerprint is disabled after several invalid tries (use other authentication method, like PIN), after a reboot, or after 48 hours. It's there to provide the user with a convenient way to unlock their phone, as well as having it locked down so it's not so inconvenient.

        • Hence the fingerprint reader

          The fingerprint reader does solve the described problem, but I would suggest the real reason was to support Apple Pay. This allows for a new source of income thereby generating strong motivation for getting the hardware together. The improved user interface is an added bonus which otherwise might not have validated the additional cost associated with an early introduction.

          And Apple did a good job with the fingerprint reader - not perfect but it is secure. Not even the OS gets a chance to read your fin

          • by ledow ( 319597 )

            The Android fingerprint API is one way too. You can train, you can ask the hardware to recognise, but at no point do you get access to the raw fingerprint data.

            Also, the iPhone 5S is vulnerable to EXACTLY the attack I describe, as was the Galaxy S5. The newer models are also no different, in that respect.

            Apple Pay and the iTunes store also both allow use of fingerprints for purchases. Therefore it's not just "convenience", but security too.

        • And my point has nothing to do with all of this, merely that I simply do not trust that someone isn't siphoning this data. Every phone has a black box (the radio) that not even the OS really knows what it is doing.

  • Maybe I'm an exception, but the S8 seems to move Samsung in the direction of everything I don't want in a phone. I want physical buttons and a home button in the front -- I absolutely loathe the on-screen buttons that other Android phones use. And why exactly would I want the fingerprint reader in the back? Or any button on the back, for that matter? I fingerprint unlock my S6 all the time while it's sitting flat on my desk. Also, I much prefer the flat screens over the curved "edge" screens. The S8 w

    • I'm totally with you on physical buttons. However, I wouldn't be against a fingerprint scanner on the back, it's always hard to scan my finger while holding my phone.

      On the other hand, edge screens are stupid.

      • I found that by keeping both thumbs & index fingers on file in the phone I can unlock it flat on the desk with either finger or with either thumb while holding it one handed (screen on with home & unlock in a second either way). I have enough trouble getting my finger on the heart rate monitor next to the camera on the S7 without needing to clean the camera afterwards so having a fingerprint reader next to the camera...? Nope, not for me. I also found iris scanning a bit hit & miss too (on th

    • I fingerprint unlock my S6 all the time while it's sitting flat on my desk.

      Why do that? Haven't you taught your phone not to bother you with passcodes when it identifies your voice, that you're holding it, what you look like etc. Having to touch it is soooo 2015.

      I joke but only half. There are two locations I have Smartlock enabled. Work and home. Passwords and fingerprints are not for when my phone is on my desk next to me.

      For the rest of your complaints, buttons, straight edges, fingerprint on the front. That sounds like something a bunch of Slashdot users want rather than some

  • how efficient are these scanners in 0F temperature anyway?
    • If it has iris unlock, you won't have to worry. The Note 7 (RIP) had both, and many people liked the iris functionality when gloved. Personally, I found you had to be uncomfortably close, and prefer the Windows (Intel) Hello facial recognition login for a more seamless experience.

  • They couldn't figure out how to make it catch fire?

  • Or they could just admit that nobody actually wanted it.

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