iPhone and iPad

Touch ID Woes: Troubleshooting The iPhone 5S Fingerprint Scanner

Tim Brookes 12-12-2013

There’s no doubting that Apple’s iPhone 5S introduces one of the best implementations of fingerprint scanning, but it’s not been plain sailing for everyone. Not only is Touch ID potentially putting your devices at risk Does the iPhone 5S Fingerprint Scanner Increase The Chance of Theft? The iPhone's new fingerprint sensor seems like a great way to use biometrics to keep the device secure and personal, but could the feature be used against the owner to circumvent existing protections? Read More , it’s a notoriously temperamental piece of technology.


The good news is that many of the problems surrounding the new iPhone’s Touch ID are software-based. As Apple improves iOS A Complete Beginner's Guide to iOS 11 for iPhone & iPad Here's everything you need to know to get started with iOS 11. Read More , so too will it improve Touch ID. For now we’re left with the few things you can do to improve your iPhone’s ability to recognise your digits.

Wash Your Hands

Starting with the most basic of advice – start out with dry, oil-free, lotion-free and above all clean hands. Sweat, grime and cosmetic products are probably the worst offenders when it comes to a false negative reading from Touch ID, and simply getting into the habit of wiping your thumb before touching the sensor can help.

Touch ID Woes: Troubleshooting The iPhone 5S Fingerprint Scanner washhands

It’s also worth asking whether your hands perfectly clean when you initially set up Touch ID. Are your “master prints” as good as they really can be? It’s possible that your poor fingerprint recognition is down to poor quality master prints, so re-scanning your fingers might be worth a try.

Cover The Whole Scanner

Some people are having trouble simply because they’re just not doing it right. Somehow, after years of just pressing the circular home button any old way, covering the entire button isn’t the most intuitive of movements.
Touch ID Woes: Troubleshooting The iPhone 5S Fingerprint Scanner adjust grip
It’s entirely possible that you’re stuck in the past and aren’t covering the scanner with your thumb. You should have a practice and try to find the best position or angle for your fingers.


Re-Scan Your Digits

If you initially recorded your fingerprints upon first using your iPhone 5S and have since updated iOS 10 Awesome Third-Party Apps & Their iOS 7 Updates Our recently released iOS 7 guide will bring you up to speed on the shiny new things to check out, and today I will share ten of my favorite apps and their new redesigns and... Read More a few times, it might be worth re-scanning your prints. Some users are reporting that software updates have improved Touch ID performance, and if you’re having trouble getting your fingers recognised it’s probably one of the first things you should try.

Touch ID Woes: Troubleshooting The iPhone 5S Fingerprint Scanner touchid options

Under the Settings > General > Passcode & Fingerprint menu you can tap Edit and start deleting your stored prints. Next, go and wash your hands, wipe your iPhone’s fingerprint scanner and re-scan the fingers you will use to unlock your phone using the Add a fingerprint option.

Remember: The more fingerprints you have stored, the longer it will take the phone to find a match. If you’re concerned about speed, only scan the fingers you will use most often to unlock the device.


Scan The Same Finger Multiple Times

One technique that has been heavily discussed on message boards and blogs is a bit of a “cheat” that involves scanning the same finger multiple times and storing the scans as separate digits. While this goes against previous advice to only scan what you need, according to HuffPo this particular trick can make a world of difference if you’re struggling getting Touch ID working.

Touch ID Woes: Troubleshooting The iPhone 5S Fingerprint Scanner place finger

Under the Settings > General > Passcode & Fingerprint menu, choose a finger you’re going to use (your thumb, for example) then tap Add new fingerprint. Add your thumb as many times as you would like (you can store a maximum of five prints), with the only drawback being that you’ll have to stick to your thumb for all future Touch ID authentication.

Book A Genius Bar Appointment

If you’ve tried everything and nothing’s working, it’s probably worth telling Apple about it. Just because it’s not a feature that the phone depends on – you can use a standard passcode and still enjoy the time you spend with the device – doesn’t mean it shouldn’t work. If you’re having trouble with it, it might be worth getting Apple to test it.


You can then find out whether your fingerprints are useless for scanning purposes or if you were unlucky enough to pick up a dud unit.

Visit: Apple Support

How is your iPhone 5S Touch ID experience? Did any of these tips help you? Add your own tips and tricks in the comments.

Related topics: iPhone 5s, Smartphone Security.

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