According to a report from SamMobile, the upcoming Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) Galaxy S6 will feature an area-based fingerprint sensor, in contrast to the current "swipe"-based sensor found on the Galaxy S5. The report also claims the sensor will be built into the home button, which will be "slightly bigger compared to [the home buttons found on] the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4."
This rumor appears credible, particularly in light of comments made on the latest earnings call from human interface solutions provider Synaptics (NASDAQ:SYNA).
Merchant touch area sensor now in mass production
Synaptics CEO Rick Bergman said the company's "area touch sensor solution is now in mass production." He added that Synaptics expects to "see phones in the market incorporating these solutions over the next couple of months."
Given that the Samsung Galaxy S5 used Synaptics' swipe-touch sensor, and that the Synaptics area-based sensor is in production now, I think there's a solid chance the Galaxy S6 will feature a Synaptics-designed area touch solution.
Samsung is taking iPhone 6 head-on
It's no secret that Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are causing major headaches for Samsung and other premium Android device vendors. While it's hard to gauge how much Touch ID has played a role in securing Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) dominant market share at the high end, I'd think having (arguably) the best fingerprint authentication solution exclusive to the iPhone 5s/iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus helped the company achieve blowout numbers in its first fiscal quarter.
With the Samsung Galaxy S6 (and likely other) high-end flagships now set to feature fingerprint authentication, this should remove a key point of differentiation for the iPhone. This should allow for easier unlocking of the phone; and, if the rumors are true that Samsung plans to launch its own mobile payments service (which has been rumored to be called "Samsung Pay"), then this could also go a long way to improving the value proposition of the Samsung devices.
The problem, though, is that any improvement Samsung can implement as a result of a merchant area touch solution can also be brought to market by other handset vendors.
Will the Galaxy S6 be the success that Samsung hopes?
A number of Galaxy S6 features and specifications have already been leaked to the Web, and all signs point to a radically improved device compared to last year's Galaxy S5. However, you can be sure that Samsung's Android smartphone competitors are also trying to pack in as many high-end technologies as possible in order to get noticed.
We'll only know as the year plays out whether the Samsung Galaxy S6 will ultimately help Samsung stem the year-over-year declines in its mobile device business. I believe the S6 will be a great Android phone, but I think there will be lots of great Android phones in the market. Furthermore, while an area touch sensor should be a great improvement over the swipe sensor, Synaptics' comments suggest Samsung won't be the only high-end Android vendor with an Apple Touch ID-like fingerprint sensing solution.