Here is the truth: it will take some years for under-the-display fingerprint scanners to be reliable and fast. At the moment, existing sensors have not a good job at proving their reliability, nor do they make case for themselves because they are solving a problem that does not exist in the first place. Conventional fingerprint scanners are still so good it puzzles some of us why they have since been abandoned by some companies; first by Apple that replaced them with Face ID and now by Android phone manufacturers with optical or ultrasonic solutions. In their defense, though, in-screen fingerprint readers highlight what the future of phones holds, and we just have to accept them because even budget phones are shipping with the new unlocking technology, from the KES 30,000 Samsung Galaxy 50 to highly-priced yet locally unavailable camera-focused Nokia 9 PureView.
Speaking of the Nokia 9, which was announced about two months ago at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the device has not been a favourite to its owners for various reasons. Perhaps its most underwhelming feature is the on-screen fingerprint scanner, which, according to multiple reviews, is slow and frustratingly inaccurate. While it makes sense why it exists, at least in terms of the direction mobile phone design is taking that encourages full-screen display and a clean look (hence the need to position the fingerprint sensor under the display), Nokia’s first attempt at this technology has been below par. To address the issue, HMD Global released an update that has since made the sensor more problematic.
Nokia intended to fix the issue by letting users not press the screen too hard before unlocking the 9. To the contrary, the update is reported to have botched the sensor as unregistered fingers can unlock the Penta-camera phone. In some cases, the handheld was unlocked by other weird things such as a pack of gum as reported by a user on Twitter. In fact, some users have also reported disturbingly high false negatives that effectively allow bypassing the device’s lock screen.
Video of the fingerprint sensor unlocking phone with a packet of chewing gum and someone else's finger pic.twitter.com/jwY4ZG7uCh
— Decoded Pixel (@decodedpixel) April 21, 2019
While the device may launch in Kenya, albeit in limited units, we hope that these issues will be ironed out before that happens.