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The new smartphone from OnePlus will fix one of the most annoying 'features' of recent smartphones

Antonio Villas-Boas
vivo phone with synaptics hidden fingerprint sensor

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider


  • The upcoming OnePlus 6T smartphone from OnePlus is confirmed to feature a front-facing fingerprint sensor built into its display. 
  • An "invisible" fingerprint sensor on the front will allow the OnePlus 6T to come with a sleek, modern design with narrow bezels while keeping the fingerprint sensor on the front.
  • Other smartphone makers have resorted to moving their fingerprint sensors to the back of their phones to allow for narrower bezels around the display.
  • Rear-facing fingerprint sensors can be more comfortable to use, but they also force users to pick up their devices to unlock the phone, which can be seen as a regression in usability. 

The upcoming smartphone from OnePlus — the OnePlus 6T — will have a fingerprint sensor built into the display called "Screen Unlock," the company confirmed to CNET.

That means the fingerprint sensor on the OnePlus 6T will be on the front of the device, which is a return to the original location of fingerprint sensors when they first started appearing on smartphones. 

OnePlus' Screen Unlock feature will likely look similar to Vivo's s in-screen fingerprint sensor, which I saw at CES earlier this year:

For many, this move will be a cause for celebration. 

Over the last couple of years, smartphone makers have opted to place the fingerprint sensor on the backs of their phones to allow for ultra-narrow bezels, or borders around the display. In several ways, rear-facing fingerprint sensors were a step forward, as it can be more natural and comfortable to place an index finger on the back of a phone to unlock them compared to twisting a thumb to hit a front-facing fingerprint sensors.

But rear-facing fingerprint sensors were also a regression in one key way: It added more steps for users to unlock and use smartphones that laid on a surface. Users now had to pick up their phones to reach the fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone, instead of simply pressing their thumb on the front of the phone. For anyone who likes using their devices while it's resting on a table, the rear-facing fingerprint sensor is a bad idea. 

galaxy s8 and s8 plus backs 2

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

Some users with self-proclaimed "smaller hands" also say that rear-facing fingerprint sensors, which are usually close to smartphone's camera, are harder to reach than the traditional front-facing sensor that's usually found below the display. 

Smartphone makers surely considered this compromise in usability when moving the fingerprint sensors to the backs of their phones in favor for ultra-sleek designs with narrower bezels around the display. But ever since the Essential Phone and Apple's iPhone X came out with their near-bezel-free designs, any smartphone that came with traditionally large bezels would appear antiquated.

red oneplus 6

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

From my experience, OnePlus' fingerprint sensors are the best in the business, as they're extremely fast and accurate when unlocking a OnePlus smartphone. We have yet to see how well OnePlus' Screen Unlock feature will work.

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