Tech: Smartphones with fingerprint scanners built into the screen will be the big reason to choose Android over iPhone, well-connected analyst predicts (AAPL)

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Vivo's X21 already has an under-display fingerprint scanner.

If the predictions of Ming-Chi Kuo are correct, a lot of Android users are going to be able to scan their fingerprints by placing them on a smartphone screen starting next year.

  • The Samsung Galaxy S10 will launch in early 2018 and will have a fingerprint scanner built into the device, TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts.
  • Apple does not plan to add a fingerprint scanner to its iPhone X lineup.
  • All big Android brands will use the fingerprint-on-screen feature to differentiate themselves from iPhone, according to the note.

Well-connected TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is out with new predictions about the smartphone market in 2019.

If his predictions are correct, a lot of Android users are going to be able to scan their fingerprints by placing them on a smartphone screen starting next year — as many as 170 million Android phones will be sold with the feature next year, according to a note seen by Business Insider.

In fact, Kuo notes that "all main Android brands currently treat [fingerprint-on-display] as the important function to differentiate themselves from the iPhone." He mentions Vivo, Oppo, Huawei, and Xiaomi as brands currently working on phones with fingerprint-on-display technology.

Although older iPhones have a fingerprint scanner on the area below the phone's screen, the current iPhone X doesn't have a fingerprint scanner, instead relying on facial recognition to unlock the device, and Kuo believes Apple's not planning to add one to future models.

That means that the next-generation technology to actually build a fingerprint into the screen, instead of on the back of the phone, could be a major differentiator for Android phones. Eventually, the technology will support fingerprint scanning over a large area of the screen.

An early test of the technology will be the Samsung Galaxy S10, according to the note, which will launch early next year and will have a fingerprint scanner built into the screen, the analyst predicts. There's already a phone on sale in certain markets, the Vivo X21, which embeds the fingerprint scanner underneath the screen.

User feedback for the X21 feature is strong, according to the note, whereas feedback for the iPhone X facial recognition is lower than expected.

Kuo's notes are focused on investment opportunities in the Asian supply chain that might benefit from new electronics launches. Currently, Synaptics is a top supplier for fingerprint scanning, but he increasingly recommends investing in the entire supply chain, especially companies that supply parts to Goodix, which he says is the leading provider of optical fingerprint scanning technology.

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