One of the interesting things about reviewing phones is noting how reviewers generally tend to notice the same kinds of things at around about the same time. In the case of the Galaxy S20 series, review units were seeded over the last few weeks since the launch, such that many tech journalists received devices the same time and started using them together.
While Ausdroid joined the party a little late – I picked up a Galaxy S20 5G last week – I’m already starting to notice a few things which are quite annoying, and I remarked to a couple of people today that the fingerprint sensor in this premium handset range was really .. not good.
As I get home this evening, get the kids to bed and catch up on the day’s tech news, I see that Android Police has reached the same conclusion. Samsung’s fingerprint sensor in the Galaxy S20 series – the exact same sensor and technology as used last year in the Galaxy S10 range – is utter rubbish.
As David Ruddock remarked:
When the fingerprint scanner works, it works. But frequently, it doesn’t. I had an app actually lock me out of additional scanning attempts this morning despite trying my right thumb at about every possible angle (and yes, both thumbs are enrolled twice).
I haven’t quite gone to this length: enrolling fingerprints is a pain so I generally only enrol one, and I usually only “re-enrol” it to reduce the error rate if it significantly pisses me off. The Galaxy S20 hasn’t quite got there yet, but oh my goodness, David, you’re right.
This sensor is terrible. There’s good ways to do in-screen fingerprint detection I’m sure, but I think we need to lose the obsession with in-display sensors. They’re just poor. I’ve used them from Samsung, Huawei, and Oppo (I think) and none of them work really well. I find myself missing sensors embedded in power keys, on the back of devices and so on – hell, I’d even prefer a physical sensor on the phone’s chin over an in-display one that just doesn’t work reliably.
That, and Samsung’s has a horrible habit of activating “accidental touch protection” whenever I unlock the phone, meaning it’s (a) a fingerprint unlock which takes a while to work and then (b) swiping off the accidental touch protection, which also is hit and miss.
Facial unlock is fast, and mostly reliable – though it works less well with sunglasses. It also doesn’t work so well with apps that offer a biometric unlock; in those cases its fingerprints, PIN, pattern or password. You can’t use Face Unlock for those.
The situation is kind of embarrassing; Samsung is capable of so much better that this feature – however small in the scheme of things – is kind of a black mark in a phone that is, otherwise, really rather good.