While the Samsung Galaxy S20 line has the iPhone 11 range matched or beaten in a lot of ways, one thing it can’t match is Apple’s Face ID system for facial recognition. Indeed, Apple’s facial recognition is more secure than just about any Android version, but Samsung could be looking to change that with the Samsung Galaxy S30.
That theory is based on a patent that Samsung has filed for a time-of-flight (ToF) sensor dubbed ‘ISOCELL Vizion’, spotted by LetsGoDigital. ToF sensors can be used to measure the distance to or depth of objects, which makes them useful for creating bokeh effects and 3D models of scenes, as well as for augmented reality and facial recognition.
They’re not a new idea, in fact some Samsung phones – such as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus – already have them, but those are Sony-made ones and they’re reportedly not as good as the ToF sensors that Apple has access to.
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If you can't beat 'em, build 'em
Samsung opted not to include such a sensor in the Galaxy Note 20 range, perhaps as a result of being stuck with the inferior ones. But based on this patent it looks like the company plans to change this situation by building its own.
Now, given the many possible uses for a ToF sensor there’s no guarantee that Samsung will use it for facial recognition, but the patent mentions that as a possible application a number of times, so there’s a good chance it will.
There’s also no guarantee that we’ll see this sensor in the Samsung Galaxy S30 – or even in any phone. Patents don’t always lead to anything, and when they do they can sometimes take a long time to.
So don’t get too excited yet, but it’s possible the Samsung Galaxy S30 will have a ToF-powered facial recognition system, and if it does, it might give the iPhone 12 a run for its money.
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James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.