Galaxy S10 and Note 10 Fingerprint Sensor Vulnerability to Be Fixed With Next Software Update
Samsung's decision to stick with an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is a unique one. Almost all the other OEMs opt for an optical sensor-based solution, which is not only quicker but also a tad more secure. To make matters worse, the Galaxy S10's fingerprint sensor didn't play nice with a lot of third-party glass-based screen protectors, much to the dismay of several users. It is because an ultrasonic fingerprint reader works by sound waves at the user’s finger and reading how those waves are reflected. The addition of a screen protector in between messes with the waves, causing the phone to misread fingerprint data.
Screen protector manufacturers worked around this by reducing the gap between the fingerprint sensor and the protective layer using a liquid adhesive. It does solve the problem as the phone can now be unlocked using the fingerprint scanner again. The problem is that just about any finger can unlock the phone, as was discovered by shocked users. It happens because the fingerprint reader is unable to read the finger’s ridges and pores clearly due to the layer of adhesive. The result is a not-at-all-unique dotted pattern that is saved as a fingerprint, allowing anyone to unlock your phone Samsung initially blamed the problem on the 'cheap' screen protectors. But the company has acknowledged it now and promises to fix it with a software update.
We're not entirely sure as to how a software update will fix this. The problem is caused due to improper reflection of sound waves due to the adhesive barrier, and that isn't something that software can fix. Maybe Samsung changes how the fingerprint scanner interacts with screen protectors. Common sense dictates that for an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor to work with a screen protector, the latter must as be thin as possible and cause as little disturbance in the sound waves as possible. Plastic is the ideal candidate for this situation, and all of Samsung's official screen protectors are made from it. At this point, Samsung should realize that an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner is just plain bad and leave it out of subsequent flagships.
News Source: BBC