Qualcomm announces 17x larger 3D Sonic Max ultrasonic fingerprint sensor

At the ongoing Snapdragon Tech Summit, Qualcomm announced the second generation of its 3D Sonic in-display fingerprint sensor dubbed as the 3D Sonic Max. The company announced it alongside the Snapdragon 865 and Snapdragon 765/765G processors.

What's important to note here is Qualcomm's reliance on ultrasound for registering fingerprints as opposed to the regular capacitive or optical methods seen on phones such as the OnePlus 7T. A downside of having an ultrasonic sensor embedded into a phone is that it's not as fast as the optical-based sensors, however, it's more secure than any other fingerprint solution out there in the market right now.

With the new 3D Sonic Max, Qualcomm has increased the size of the sensor which is now 17x larger than the previous generation and supports two simultaneous fingerprints for authentication. The chip-maker also claims that the new sensor is fast and fairly easy to use, but we'll have to check that out ourselves when phones with the said sensor are out going forward in 2020.

Qualcomm's 3D Sonic Max sensor measures 20mm x 30mm giving way to a 600 square mm sensing area for users authentication. It is 0.15mm thin as well, so it doesn't hog up too much space. Moreover, due to the increased size, enrolling a print will be faster than tapping on the sensor over and over.

Further use cases of this ultrasonic fingerprint sensor include authentication of apps with sensitive information such as those of banks and even work emails. And it's more secure than ever because the large surface area allows the system to read two prints at the same time.

Unlike the previous generation, the 3D Sonic Max sensor identifies fingerprints and the data is processed by the hardware without the need for additional algorithm-based processing.

It is expected that we'll see more commercial use cases of the new 3D Sonic Max fingerprint sensor starting 2020 and since Samsung put the last generation of Qualcomm sensors in Galaxy S10 and Note 10+, we can expect the 3D Sonic Max to show up in one of the upcoming phones by Samsung next year.

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