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Samsung’s Galaxy S10 fingerprint sensor can survive scratches, but not cracks

Yesterday Samsung confirmed that the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus will ship with a preinstalled screen protector. But if you’re not a screen protector type of person, you can rest easy knowing that the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor on both phones can withstand plenty of scratching and still function properly. Zack Nelson put the S10 through his signature durability test at JerryRigEverything, and as usual for Samsung, the company’s latest flagship proved well-constructed.

However, we haven’t seen too many other smartphones with the ultrasonic in-display fingerprint reader that Samsung built into the S10 and S10 Plus. It works when your fingers are wet — a common foil for traditional capacitive scanners — and it’s supposed to be faster than the in-display optical readers used by OnePlus and other companies. But there are always questions about new technology and durability. Can scratches from common wear and tear interfere with the sensor? The answer seems to be no. Zack caused plenty of scratches on the area overtop the sensor, and it seemed to work fine.


Image: JerryRigEverything

But cracks are another matter. If you bust your S10’s screen in close proximity to that ultrasonic fingerprint reader, it will likely stop functioning altogether until you get the display repaired. Zack dug deeper grooves and gouges into the screen to simulate shattered display glass, and it’s a no go.


Image: JerryRigEverything

Now, Samsung’s own sheet-of-plastic screen protector isn’t going to do much to save your display from breaking if you drop the phone. If you’re not a fan of the preinstalled protector when you unbox the phone, you might as well just pull it off and put the thing in a case. But companies including Whitestone have confirmed that their tempered glass protectors won’t inhibit the S10’s fingerprint scanning functionality. So for the more clumsy among us, at least there’ll be something besides insurance or Samsung’s own damage-protection plan.

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