iQOO 9 Pro has the best in-screen fingerprint scanner to date and now I want it in every phone

I reviewed the iQOO 9 Pro here at Android Police a while ago, but there is one thing I can’t get over, even after a few weeks. The ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner is incredibly fast. This is because the iQOO 9 Pro is one of the first internationally available phones to be launched with Qualcomm’s 3D Sonic Max sensor, a step up from the previous version still used in recent devices like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.

Before getting into baseball here, I’d like to direct you to our fingerprint scanner comparison post, and go over the differences between capacitive, optical, and ultrasound fingerprint scanners. The idea here is that capacitive sensors use electrical circuits and do not work with bottom displays. You’ve likely seen these on your iPhone’s home button first. Then there are the fingerprint scanners that need to light up and scan your fingerprint (hence the name) — the current Pixel 6 generation has switched to in-display variants. Meanwhile, ultrasonic sensors map your prints using sound waves, much like the echolocation used by bats, dolphins and other animals to navigate the world. These are mostly found at the bottom of the screen of the latest Samsung flagships.


The Qualcomm Scanner is based on the latter, and is currently proven to be the safest and fastest method for under-display sensors, but it is also the most expensive. With that out of the way, let’s dive into what makes the new Sonic Max sensor so special.

Seamless setup experience

When you first set up the phone with Qualcomm’s 3rd generation sensor, you’ll immediately notice a difference in any fingerprint scanner, including other ultrasonic sensors. When you enroll your fingerprints, you only need to touch the sensor once.

iQOO 9 Pro -7 . Fingerprint Sensor

It’s a weird experience if you’re used to enrolling your fingerprint by repeatedly tapping the scanner at slightly different angles (hopefully) to make sure the phone will unlock properly in the future when you’re not pressing perfectly on the sensor. After this quick setup process,

I was skeptical about the iQOO 9 Pro’s authentication performance, but was pleasantly surprised by its long-term reliability.

Daily reliability

Qualcomm claims the sensor is the fastest in the mobile industry, unlocking in just 0.2 seconds, and while I don’t have the tools to corroborate this claim, I can at least say the statement seems accurate. When compared to an optical sensor like the one on the Pixel 6, this ultrasonic solution is more reliable and more accessible. It looks on par and sometimes faster when compared to a capacitive sensor like the one in the power button of the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite.

iQOO 9 Pro -3 . Fingerprint Sensor

When you tap the sensor right in the middle, it usually unlocks instantly, making the process feel like a fingerprint scan and more like a simple tap. You don’t need to apply any extra power as is sometimes the case with optical sensors – the Sonic Max is happy with a light touch. When you move a little over the edges of the sensor, things get a little suspicious, but that’s to be expected. And given the size of the sensor, you’d be hard-pressed to get there in the first place.

For me, the issues only appeared when unlocking the phone after a longer period of deep sleep, the sensor suddenly becoming more in line with the Pixel 6’s optical sensor and taking a few milliseconds extra, but that’s fine.

The sensor also managed to impress in another area. Qualcomm advertises it as bulky, measuring 20 x 30mm – “more than 4 times the size of a 3D Sonic Gen 2”. This makes it easier than ever, and offers a remedy to one of the arguments used against in-display fingerprint scanners. Unlike the capacitive sensors on the back or in the power button, the sensors in the screen don’t offer any tactile features to help you find them. They don’t have anything to direct you to where you want to put your finger, so when they’re larger, it’s hard to miss when you’re not looking at your screen completely while unlocked.

It is also possible to adjust the size of the opening area, although I can’t imagine why you would want to make it deliberately smaller – it is preset to the largest possible area.

Fun bits and pieces

If you’re confident you can get into a smaller area to unlock your phone, the massive sensor offers another advantage. You can split it into three distinct areas, allowing you to tap on a specific part of the sensor to go directly to an app of your choice. While lock screen shortcuts are not new in themselves, this method does not require any additional authentication, nor does it offer any friction at all compared to other lock screen shortcuts. Personally, I opted for quick access to Google Pay and Telegram.

iQOO 9 Pro Fingerprint Sensor -4

This method leaves you with a smaller opening area, but I still had no particular difficulty in getting to the correct space for the intended action. After all, we’ve all been conditioned to hit smaller spaces on older phones already.

iQOO also offers two sensor unlock modes. The default round variable helps you avoid hitting the sensor on the edges which could lead to authentication failure. There’s also a square version that roughly shows you the true blueprint of the sensor (although there’s also a small margin of error). It really gives you an idea of ​​how big the sensor is, giving you a small glimpse into the inner workings of the smartphone.

iQOO 9 Pro -5 . Fingerprint Sensor


Given that the 3rd generation Sonic Max has been on the market for over a year already, it’s a shame that it didn’t reach many phones other than the iQOO 9 Pro and iQOO 8 Pro half a year before that, both of which have limited international availability. While the second-generation ultrasonic sensor on the Galaxy S22 series is no slouch, it was great to see the latest and greatest in Samsung’s flagship lineup.

After using the iQOO 9 Pro and its amazing fingerprint sensor for a while, I can’t wait for more manufacturers to jump on the bandwagon, integrating the sensor into all the best Android phones out there. The experience is just on a different level.

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