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Leaks Offer Hints about Samsung Galaxy S9 Security, PC Capabilities
By Shirley Siluk
Posted: December 4, 2017 9:37am PST

The technology apparently works by letting users scan their palm to verify their identity as an authorized device user. With their identity verified, they could then view a password hint displayed across various palm lines in the scanned image.

Eight months after launching its Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus flagship smartphones, Samsung is reportedly well underway with plans for the Galaxy S9. Today, the Dutch blog Galaxy Club said it had learned from an unnamed source or sources that the S9 will feature a new version of the DeX dock called the DeX Pad.

Unveiled in the spring along with the Galaxy S8, DeX (Desktop eXtension) enables users to connect their phones to desktop displays and keyboards to use them as they would use their PCs.

Over the weekend, SamMobile, another site devoted to Samsung, reported that the Galaxy S9 could arrive with a new violet or purple color option. Similar rumors had swirled earlier this year about the Galaxy S8, but that phone is available only in arctic silver, midnight black, and orchid gray.

Samsung also appears to be considering a new type of security feature for future devices: palm scanning. SamMobile last week spotted a patent application by the company that would allow users to scan the palms of their hands to view hints for forgotten passwords.

Possible Launch at CES or MWC

While it's uncertain when Samsung plans to launch the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, some reports have suggested it might take the wraps off of its new flagships earlier than in the past. Events where an announcement might be made include January's CES consumer electronics show, held annually in Las Vegas, and the Mobile World Congress, which kicks off in Barcelona on Feb. 26.

Production of the new phones could already be under way, according to the latest Galaxy S9 rumor roundup from The Inquirer.

While the coming flagships will support Samsung's new docking capabilities, it's uncertain whether the DeX Pad accessories will arrive in stores at the same time as the phones, Galaxy Club reported today. The prices for both the phones and DeX Pad (pictured above) have not yet been announced.

The current DeX Station is priced at $149.99. According to Galaxy Club, the new DeX Pad will not require users to also hook up keyboards and mouses to use their phones as PCs.

Palm-Based Biometrics

It's not clear whether Samsung plans to include the palm-scanning security feature in the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. The company's patent application describes the technology as a method for "extracting biometric information of a user from an acquired image and acquiring a password hint on the basis of the biometric information and a preconfigured password."

The technology apparently works by letting users scan their palms to verify their identities as authorized device users. With their identities verified, they could then view password hints displayed across various palm lines in the scanned images.

"According to the patent, the front camera is used for taking a picture of the palm, which means it's not a totally secure method despite how unique your palm lines might be," SamMobile reported. "But, unlike photos of your face, someone taking a picture of you holding out your palm would be somewhat rare. Plus, the patent suggests that the password hint won't be simply displayed on the screen, but scattered across the lines in a haphazard manner."

SamMobile added, "That would make it harder for someone just glancing at your phone to see what's being displayed, while being simple enough for your mind to suddenly light up and recall that forgotten password."

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