The OnePlus 6T will have a feature the iPhone XS and Pixel 3 won’t: an in-display fingerprint reader

The next generation of fingerprint scanning comes to Android's rebel.

oneplus 6 shiny
Michael Simon/IDG

With rumors swirling about Apple’s new iPhone XS (landing Wednesday) and Google’s Pixel 3 (coming October 9), it’s easy to forget that there are other phones arriving this fall. And to make sure it isn’t ignored, OnePlus is teasing a huge feature in its next phone.

In an interview with CNET, a OnePlus representative divulged that the upcoming 6T will have a feature called Screen Unlock, bringing the fabled in-display fingerprint to the most mainstream phone yet. "By adding this feature as an addition to other display unlocking options such as Face Unlock,” OnePlus said, “users will have options to unlock the display in a way that is most efficient for them."

CNet also reports that the hardware fingerprint sensor on the rear of the phone will be removed, giving it a “more unibody look,” and the phone will be about a half-millimeter thicker to accommodate the new tech.

This feature alone will give the OnePlus 6T some serious attention. It’s been rumored for years that Apple, Samsung, and others are experimenting with in-display fingerprint sensors but haven’t been able to perfect the technology. While we’ve already seen the tech in the Vivo X21 and a smattering of other Chinese handsets, the OnePlus 6T is sure to make a much bigger splash, especially if it’s sold at T-Mobile, as has been rumored. The Oppo offshoot has consistently pushed our expectations of a mid-range Android phone with premium specs and design, but adding an in-display fingerprint sensor would be the first time the phone maker has delivered a premier feature before its heavyweight competitors.

OnePlus is expected to announce the 6T at an event in October.

Why this matters: While an in-display fingerprint sensor is certainly an interesting, headline-grabbing feature for the OnePlus 6T, we have some questions. First of all, does it work? Secondly, is it secure? Comparing the feature to Face Unlock could be a dubious one, since Face Unlock is the least secure method of unlocking on OnePlus phones. It’s fast, but it doesn’t use the same 3D-sensing camera that Apple uses for Face ID on the iPhone X, thus making Face Unlock relatively easy to spoof.

Assuming OnePlus will be using Synaptics’ Clear ID Optical Sensor, however, it will include adaptive fingerprint template matching and authentication as well as anti-spoof technology that uses AI to distinguish between spoofs and actual fingers. Plus, Synaptics claims Clear ID is twice as fast as 3D facial recognition. But whether it uses a third-party sensor or its own home-grown one, color us intrigued.

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