While we do know that the trend of in-display fingerprint scanner has emerged, it is also worth mentioning that despite popular belief the physical fingerprint scanner has not vanished out of the industry. We do agree that most premium Android phones, apart from the iPhones, have an in-display fingerprint scanner right now. However, some recent phones like the Pixel 4a as well as the Sony Xperia 1 Mark ii show that fingerprint sensor can also be shifted to different positions like the back or the sides on the power button.
The main argument with a fingerprint sensor was that on the front, you needed to have a bezel so the screen-to-body ratio was getting hurt. But we now see a small problem with the in-display fingerprint scanner as well. For those who are unaware of in-display fingerprint scanner’s mechanism, it is a scanner and not a “sensor”. As in, your fingerprint gets scanned by an infrared camera and it takes a photo your fingerprint so that it can match with what it has in the database.
Now, a Xiaomi user got the idea from somewhere to pull out the feed of his in-display fingerprint scanner and see what it sees. Basically, the camera fitted inside the tiny part of a display will be small and crappy and low-res. But the fact that there is a camera and it can capture photos might be a privacy problem for many.
521 votes, 75 comments. 121k members in the Xiaomi community. Unofficial Community for All Things Xiaomi!
The device in question is the Xiaomi Mi 9T and the feed was pulled out thanks to an app which lets you access some hidden settings of a phone named as “Activity Launcher” app. It is worth noting that the app allows you to also do engineering tests on your devices such as access to calibration menus, factory tests, and other demos.
Similarly, the user was able to pull the live feed of phone’s in-display fingerprint scanner, look at what it captures, and also see how bad the camera was. Although this is a third-party app, Xiaomi should have disabled even seeing the feed to solve any privacy issues that might arise.
It is worrying that a third-party app can access such a feed of in-display camera on the phone and it will open up a can of worms for all the devices with in-display cameras around. One thing to be noted here is Android devices are required to have biometric data behind their chipset’s secure area such as T2 chip on Apple devices for example. So we are sure something like that would have been implemented here as well.