First phone with in-screen fingerprint scanner sells Jan. 24

The Vivo phone we saw earlier this month is real, but it could be hard to get.

Gordon Gottsegen CNET contributor
Gordon Gottsegen is a tech writer who has experience working at publications like Wired. He loves testing out new gadgets and complaining about them. He is the ghost of all failed Kickstarters.
Gordon Gottsegen
2 min read
James Martin/CNET

The world's first phone with an in-screen fingerprint scanner finally has a name, and a birth date. The Vivo X20 Plus UD goes on sale Jan. 24, starting in China.

We first saw the one-of-a-kind tech at CES, the world's largest technology show. Chinese phone maker Vivo showed us a preproduction device that scans your fingerprint when you place your finger on the screen. There's no home button, just a target on the lock screen that you tap when you want to unlock the device -- and then it's out of your way. Vivo calls it Clear ID.

Although Vivo's phone will be the first to market with this innovation, we expect it to kick off a trend in 2018 and beyond. Currently, almost every phone on the planet has a physical fingerprint scanner that you press to get into your phone: either south of the screen, integrated in the power button, or on the phone's back. 

Apple's iPhone X is one notable exception -- it uses Face ID to unlock the phone, and has no fingerprint scanner whatsoever.

This Vivo phone could launch a smartphone trend

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Both the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S8 were rumored to get the embedded sensor, and didn't. With the Galaxy S9 launching in February in Barcelona, Spain, Samsung and other device makers will have a chance to show off their use of the technology, which was created by components company Synaptics.

The Vivo X20 Plus UD is a variation on the previously announced X20 Plus, so expect it to have the same 6.43-inch AMOLED display with thin bezels, a Snapdragon octa-core processor, dual rear cameras and 4GB of RAM -- the in-screen fingerprint sensor is really the standout feature.

Vivo will announce the X20 Plus UD Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. local time in China; it's unclear if it will come to other markets outside of Vivo's home country.

Watch this: See the first in-screen fingerprint scanner in action