This is the biggest flaw of the Samsung Galaxy S20 series
This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 series edge closer to what a perfect Android smartphone experience can be: with the latest and fastest chips, and a truly incredible 120Hz display they provide the fast and smooth experience that one can only dream of in a phone. Plus, you have a camera that can zoom further than any other smartphone. Add to that features like 5G connectivity, large batteries, and pretty much everything but the kitchen sink.
However, as I was using the Galaxy S20 Ultra over the past week, one feature was failing me and it was one I had to use every time I interacted with the phone. As much as I was enjoying the experience, I could not wrap my head around why Samsung had not improved it.
I am referring to the fingerprint scanner built inside the screen.
Samsung is the only company to use an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner
Samsung has been the first (and only) company to adopt an ultrasonic in-screen fingerprint scanner. The ultrasonic technology was developed by Qualcommm and uses sound waves that bounce of your skin and allow the sensor to register the unique pattern of ridges and valleys on your finger to recognize it is you and unlock the phone. It sounds futuristic and in theory it is.
But not in practice: the ultrasonic fingerprint scanner is just too slow and nowhere nearly as accurate as the optical scanners that all other companies have adopted.
On the Galaxy S20 Ultra that I used, I often had to press on the screen a couple of times until it unlocked, and while it often times worked on the first try as well, it never felt quick. I also sometimes had to give it three and even four tries until it finally registered. While you do get an occasional misreading on optical fingerprint scanners on other phones, here, it seemed like something I had to deal with on a daily basis.
Optical fingerprint scanners are better in every way
What's worse is that issues with this type of fingerprint scanner are nothing new for Samsung: it's the exact same one it used in the S10 series and Note 10 series last year, and there are multiple complaints about this ultrasonic fingerprint scanner online. A recent speed test also confirmed the new S20 series had not improved in any noticeable way. It's just bad.
This might be forgivable in a cheap phone (it really isn't), but users will be paying $1400 for a super premium phone and having to fight a feature that is used multiple times every single day is just disappointing.
You can read our in-depth Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Review here
There are a few steps I do recommend if you are having problems with the ultrasonic fingerprint scanner on the S20 series: register the same finger multiple times and don't use a glass screen protector (you do get a quite good plastic screen protector pre-applied). Even with those tips, though, it can still be frustratingly slow and inaccurate.