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The Galaxy S9 could get a more secure iris scanner, says report

The new scanner could help make mobile banking transactions more secure.

Josh Miller/CNET
samsung-note-7-iris-scanner-unlock.jpg

Samsung's iris scanning lets you unlock your phone or use Samsung Pay.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Samsung will reportedly bring several upgrades to the iris scanner on its next Galaxy S phone, presumably called the Galaxy S9. Some of these possible changes include a shorter response time, better recognition in dark or bright environments or when the user is wearing glasses, and a slightly higher resolution, 3-megapixel lens (up from 2MP in the Galaxy S8) according to The Korea Herald.

More secure biometric authentication -- like fingerprint sensing, iris scanning and facial recognition -- is always a good thing, but the update may seem especially necessary after hackers were able to fool the iris scanner on the Galaxy S8 using a photo and contact lenses. After the hack Samsung was quick to defend the security of its iris-scanning tech, but an improved scanner may help those concerned rest more easily.

Currently, fingerprint and iris scanning are the only biometric methods Samsung deems secure enough to use as authentication for Samsung Pay (sorry, facial recognition). According to the report, Samsung is working to get more mobile banking apps to be compatible with the iris scanner as an authentication method. Since we're dealing with monetary transactions, security is a top priority.

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A Samsung spokesperson told The Korea Herald that an "Iris scanner is the safest biometric authentication (among iris, fingerprint and face recognition) and we will continue to improve the system for upcoming smartphones for safer banking transactions," but did not reveal any specific plans for the Galaxy S9.

But the Galaxy S9 may not be alone. The report's source also claimed that Samsung is on target to expand the iris scanner to its budget phones by late 2018 or early 2019. Right now the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 are the only Samsung phones with iris scanning -- excluding the recalled Note 7.

We've already heard rumors that the Galaxy S9 may get a fingerprint scanner similar to the Galaxy S8's. When you consider that the fingerprint scanner's proximity to the camera was one of our biggest gripes about the S8, an updated iris scanner may be a better alternative.

Samsung did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.