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.

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Mark M
Mark M
4 months ago

Never had an issue with the sensor on my S10+

Get
Get
4 months ago

It actually comes down to you not being careless when saving a print. So try not rushing next time when setting the print.

Raj
Raj
4 months ago

Bullshit. I used the s10 and used the sensor without issue. Same thing for the s20. Did you write an article over a non issue?

michael
michael
4 months ago

Well i have one on my P30 Pro , and i would prefer the good old finger print sensor on the rear of the device, like the nexus 6p , even the one on my note 9 is not bad , it does the job first go 9 out of 10 times , although with my big fingers i have to try and use accuracy in my placement , and an annoyance to me is a lot of these sensors are built for the wee people , the little people , they are so annoyingly small . Having said all… Read more ยป

Jamie S
Jamie S
4 months ago

All in display fingerprint sensors are rubbish period. I never asked for them, I don’t want them, give me a physical fp sensor on the back of the phone any day.

Gareth
Gareth
4 months ago

I had the same problem with Note 10+ 5G. Replacing the factory screen protector with a hydrogel one from eBay made a vast improvement.