IHS Markit Forecasts Massive Increase in Under-Display Fingerprint Modules in Smartphones

IHS Markit forecasts that smartphone brands will increase their adoption of under-display fingerprint sensors, which lets phones have full-screen displays with an invisible fingerprint feature.

Shipments of modules for smartphones of under-display fingerprint sensors are predicted to rise to at least 9 million units in 2018 and top 100 million units by 2019, according to a new report from IHS Markit. The company expects that the market will experience its biggest jump in 2019 when it will rocket from 9 million ten times to over 100 million units. The market for under-display is expected to continue its growth for the next three years. According to IHS Markit, Samsung Electronics and Chinese smartphone brands such as Vivo, Huawei and Xiaomi will lead this growth.

With a fingerprint sensor under a smartphone’s display, the phone can provide an invisible and front-side fingerprint identification function with 18:9 or higher ratio full-screen displays. Applications utilizing under-display fingerprint sensors, such as the Vivo X20 and X21 and the Huawei Mate RS, were introduced at the end of March. More under-display fingerprint applications are expected to come to market in the second half of 2018.

Apple First to Adopt Fingerprint Recognition

Apple was the first smartphone maker to utilize fingerprint recognition as a major biometric identification. In fact, Apple launched Touch ID on the iPhone back in 2013. The Android system followed in 2015 adding support of native fingerprint sensing, which has contributed to the market’s drastic growth for the past several years. IHS estimates that due to its convenience and intuitive use, fingerprint recognition was applied to over 60 percent of all smartphone shipped in 2017.

Under-display Fingerprint Sensors Now Allow Sensor on Front of Smartphone

While user preferences for a better viewing experience gave rise to larger, full-screen displays on smartphones, earlier models were restricted to fingerprint sensors positioned beyond the screen boundary. Then, the introduction of rear-side fingerprint sensing was a design compromise that overcame these limitations. Now, the under-display fingerprint sensor design lets the sensor to again be placed on the front side of the smartphone.

“With Vivo and Huawei recently launching several models with the under-display fingerprint solution, it is certainly rising as a new trend,” said Calvin Hsieh, director of touch and user interface research at IHS Markit. “These launches also pressure Samsung Electronics, which hasn’t decided whether or not to adopt the solution in its Galaxy Note 9.”

2018 Total Contingent on Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Adoption or Not

IHS Markit speculates that if Samsung implements under-display fingerprint sensing in the Galaxy Note 9, shipments of smartphones with this type of fingerprint sensing will rise to more than 20 million units in 2018, from the currently forecasted 9 million units. Virtually all makers of fingerprint sensing integrated circuit (IC)s are interested in devising under-display fingerprint solutions because the profit margin is much higher than for discrete solutions, IHS Markit says.

According to IHS Markit, leading fingerprint sensing solution makers include Synaptics, Goodix, Qualcomm and Egis, followed by Samsung LSI, FPC, VkanSee, CrucialTec, BeyondEyes and FocalTech. Among panel producers, Samsung Display, which has mature active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) panel fabrication technology, takes the leading role, because for now under-display fingerprint sensing can be only applied to AMOLED. Soon BOE panels will be able to implement under-display fingerprint sensing.

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