iFixit opens up the Galaxy S10, revealing tiny in-display fingerprint sensor

  • The Galaxy S10 and S10e get stripped down.
  • This is the back of the display, and here iFixit is peeling off the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. Notice how the screen is covered in copper? It’s a big heat sink!
  • As phones get hotter and hotter, they’re starting to need more powerful cooling solutions. This one has a big vapor chamber on the left.

In the lifecycle of any important gadget, after the announcement and release comes the teardown. iFixit has gotten a hold of the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, and S10e and has stripped them all down to their base parts. As usual, modern smartphone design is a mess of adhesive that is difficult to repair. The pictures are fun to look at, though!

The newest component inside the Galaxy S10 is the new ultrasonic fingerprint reader, which lives under the display and can make a 3D map of your finger with nothing but sound. In terms of actual components, the sensor is a thin, tape-like strip that gets glued to the back of the display. We’ve seen prototypes with a large fingerprint-reading area before, but for this first-generation commercial version, Samsung’s fingerprint reading area is just a tiny strip. It’s actually way smaller than a fingertip, which means you’ll need to be precise about your finger position when you use it.

There are lots of heat-mitigation techniques going on inside the Galaxy S10. Like the Note9 and Galaxy S9, a large vapor chamber handles cooling the SoC and storage. The back of the display is coated in copper, allowing it to act as a big heatsink.

Overall, iFixit takes a lot of issues with the repairability of the Galaxy S10 family. The batteries are glued in and, lacking pull tabs, don’t have an easy method of removal. The site says the new reverse wireless charging feature, “makes a lot of heat and probably isn’t great for long-term battery life.” Glued-down glass on the front and back is fragile and replacing it is difficult. The screen is also pretty much the last component to come off the phone, making one of the most common phone repairs the most difficult. For a repairability score, it earned a 3 out of 10.

Listing image by iFixit