Fingerprint readers are perhaps the most utilitarian addition to phones in the last five years. In the early days, the most popular position for these readers used to be on the front, right below the screen where there were clubbed with the home button.
The simple approach, however, wasn’t tenable with the war against bezels. In fact, we have only now circled back to front fingerprint readers with optical and ultrasonic in-display sensors that are finally snappy and reliable – even on affordable phones.
But there’s a problem. For convenient implementation, these sensors need to be laid under AMOLED screens*.
Yes, the side-mounted fingerprint sensors have existed for years, but there has been a recent surge in their popularity, particularly on affordable phones with IPS LCD panels. Many users actually prefer these to conventional rear-mounted or front in-display sensors.
*In-display sensors for LCD screens exist but aren’t in use on any popular phone.
Side-mounted fingerprint sensors: Advantages and Disadvantages
Side-mounted fingerprint sensors are capacitive sensors, and as all capacitive sensors, they have the advantage of being easily accessible. You can reach out for such sensors without looking at your phone or without holding your phone upright. They are also relatively more consistent.
Another advantage is fingerprint gestures. The tangible nature of these sensors make fingerprint sensor-related gestures like scroll up, scroll down or double-tap action possible.
But side-mounted fingerprint readers have some disadvantages too. Those positioned on the right aren’t as comfortable to access by people who are left-handed – especially on big phones.
Most of such sensors can read partial fingerprints, but only when consumers are careful while setting them up.
1. Xiaomi Mi 10I
Xiaomi Mi 10I (review) retails for a bargain price and has a very impressive spec-sheet that includes 108MP camera, 120Hz refresh rate display, fast charging, and a very capable Snapdragon 750G.
The phone also has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor clubbed with the power button. An option in settings let you decide if you need it to recognize touches after you press the button or when you simply place your finger on the scanner.
2. Realme X3 Zoom
Realme X3 Zoom is a capable all-rounder with highlights such as Snapdragon 855+ octa-core chipset, a capable zoom camera, a 120Hz refresh rate display, and 30W fast charging. That’s quite a lot of value for an aggressive under 30K price.
There are two cameras on the front – a 32MP main snapper assisted by an 8MP wide-angle shooter. On the downside, this one skips on an AMOLED panel and has a modest 4200mAh battery.
3. Samsung Galaxy M31s
Samsung Galaxy M31s is the only affordable phone with an AMOLED display and a snappy side-mounted fingerprint sensor. The handset flaunts a gorgeous design and is comfortable to wield, even when it houses a massive 6000mAh battery.
On the inside, the Galaxy M31s employs Exynos 9611 octa-core chipset which limits it as a phone for basic and moderate users. Other highlights include USB Type-C port, HD content streaming support on apps like Netflix and Prime, and 25W fast charging.
4. Poco X3
The Poco X3 (review) replaces Poco X2 as a budget champ that offers 120Hz refresh-rate IPS LCD screen and is powered by Snapdragon 732G octa-core chipset.
Partially severing ties with Xiaomi allows Poco to deliver a relatively ad-free version of MIUI. This one has 33W fast charging support to go with the beefy 6000mAh battery. The camera performance is also quite decent for the price.
5. Poco M2 Pro
Poco M2 Pro brings amazing value to phones priced under Rs. 15,000. It offers dependable performance hardware and a slightly better version of MIUI 11. The cameras are quite decent for the price, and yes, it has a very reliable side-mounted fingerprint reader that’s positioned just right.
The Poco M2 Pro further offers a beefy 5000mAh battery with 33W fast charging for a very attractive price.
6. Realme 7
Realme 7 is powered by the game-centric Helio G95 octa-core chipset, has a 90Hz IPS LCD display, a slick design, and a very reliable side fingerprint sensor.
This is a powerful phone that covers all basics and should be an appealing option for people restricted by a 15K budget. The Pro variant, Realme 7 Pro, starts at INR 19,999 and offers an AMOLED display and a snappy in-display fingerprint reader.
7. Realme 6 and Realme 6 Pro
Realme’s 6-series phones opt for high refresh-rate screens over AMOLED panels. Both of these are big phones with side-mounted fingerprint sensors and punch-holes to accommodate selfie cameras.
The Realme 6 Pro (review) is powered by Snapdragon 720G octa-core chipset and the Realme 6 (review) gets MediaTek’s Helio G90T. Both of these phones are powerful performers, offer 30W fast charging, and have 64MP sensor led quad-cameras on the rear.
8. Redmi Note 9 Pro and Redmi Note 9 Pro Max
Xiaomi’s Note9 Pro and Note9 Pro are sizeable phones with side-mounted fingerprint readers. These phones are powered by Snapdragon 720G octa-core chipset that integrates NavIC support, have centrally aligned circular notches, and run Android 10-based MIUI 11 software.
There are 4 cameras on the rear. The Note 9 Pro gets the 48MP Samsung GM2 as the primary sensor, while the Note 9 Pro Max has the 64MP GM1. The Pro and Pro Max also differ in terms of RAM and Storage configurations and fast charging speeds.
9. Samsung Galaxy S10e
Samsung Galaxy S10e (quick review) is still a relevant option for consumers who need compact phones. It’s still a bit pricy for a bottom-tier, yesteryear flagship, but I guess recurring sales should offer opportune buy moments.
The Galaxy S10e is a cute, premium phone with a very accessible side-mounted fingerprint sensor that’s more reliable and convenient than what Samsung offers even on current S20-flagships. The phone has a 5.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED screen, and is powered by Exynos 9820 octa-core processor. The 3100mAh battery and the resulting backup is on the lower side, and that’s the main compromise you’d have to live with.
10. Huawei Y9s
Huawei Y9s is an affordable phone powered by Kirin 710F chipset paired with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. The catch is that due to the US imposed sanctions, the Huawei Y9s is still running Android 9 Pie as the base software.
There are three cameras on the back, led by a 48MP sensor. The front camera resides in a pop-up slider and thus the 6.59-inch TFT LCD display is uninterrupted and quite immersive.
Best Phones with Side-mounted fingerprint sensors
Side-mounted sensors on modern phones are always-on type. This is to say that you won’t have to first press the power button-cum-FP reader before scanning begins. I guess these do help manufacturers using IPS LCD panels differentiate their phones and we expect to see many more phones with the side-mounted sensors as the year proceeds.
Best phones with side-mounted fingerprint readers
|Xiaomi Mi 10i
|Realme X3 Zoom
|Samsung Galaxy M31s
|Poco M2 Pro
|Realme 6 Pro
|Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro
|Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro Max
|Samsung Galaxy S10e