The screen would digitally indicate where you have to place your finger in order to unlock it, which sounds similar to the solution used by the Vivo X20 Plus UD. As well as visual indications, the scanner could also potentially vibrate when touched.
A Note-able upgrade
We're not expecting to see this used on the Samsung Galaxy S9 or Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, since both handsets have been extensively leaked and seem to still have a scanner on the back, but we may see it on a future handset, perhaps even the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, which has been previously rumored to get just such a feature.
Patents don't always get used, but it makes sense for Samsung to keep working on this, since a rear-facing scanner is an inelegant solution and there's no room for one below the screen without increasing the size of the bezel.
This patent is also fairly recent, as it was originally filed back in July 2017 and the images show phones that look a lot like recent Samsung handsets, so it's not an old idea that's only just emerged.
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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.