Touch ID success

Over the past several weeks, I’ve noticed that the accuracy of the Touch ID feature on my iPhone 5s has been slowly getting worse. Where the sensor used to recognize my registered fingerprint(s) almost instantly, it now takes two or three tries.

And it looks like I’m not the only one with this issue. A number of users have come forward reporting similar accuracy problems, and of course there’s [several] lengthy Apple support threads full of folks complaining. So, is Touch ID going bad?

Here’s an observation from developer Dr. Dang (via Daring Fireball):

“I’ve been using Touch ID since I got an iPhone 5s in mid-October. Generally speaking, I like it, and I find it faster than the old swipe-and-passcode method, but I’ve felt compelled to reteach it my fingerprints twice already. I know this sounds impossible, but its recognition of my prints seems to decay with time.

I rescanned my fingers this weekend, and Touch ID has been amazingly fast and accurate since then. Just as it was when I first got the 5s, and just as it was a few weeks later when I rescanned my fingers for the first time. Just before each rescan, though, I was so frustrated with Touch ID I felt like throwing the phone across the room.”

Dang goes on to say that he doesn’t know enough about how Touch ID works to take a guess at what’s going on here, but he does note that if the software is updating its internal image of each print every time it’s scanned, decay is at least a possibility.

Touch ID hardware

To be honest, I had been attributing my Touch ID’s accuracy problems to mounting debris. I sometimes forget to wipe off my fingers before touch the Home button. But sure enough, after deleting and rescanning my fingerprints, it works flawlessly.

Durability and reliability have long been the achilles’ heel of fingerprint scanners, and believed to be factors in why they aren’t used in mobile phones anymore. Apple however, with its AuthenTec technology, was supposed to have overcome these issues.

Have you been having trouble with your Touch ID?

  • Matt Mullen

    Yup I have the same frustration

  • John Louis

    I have noticed this issue as well.

  • Matta Fakt

    I definitely have the same problem and have noticed the same temporary fix as well.

  • Tim

    I don’t see how rescanning your fingerprint after 2 weeks or so translates to touch ID being a gimmick and not ready for mass production. Mine works fine, just rescan your fingerprint on a monthly basis and you will be fine. Takes about 30seconds. This thing is well implemented if you ask me

  • “You’re touching it wrong.”

  • Kenny Woodard

    I’ve gotta admit, when I finally got an upgrade for my iPhone 4, I was so close to getting the 5s.. But after about 5 minutes of that, I realized that I had no use for a 64 bit CPU.. Talk about gimmicky. And that fingerprint sensor? Whoopdy freaking do.. I’m happy with my new GS4. Yes this phone has some unpolished gimmicky features.. But I find this phone to perfectly suit me. Guess what? I was actually able to double my storage with an SD card for like 20$ instead of a 100$ like Apple wants you to pay.. Oh and this display can actually be used for watching things on more than a little 4″ display. I get to set my own launcher and keyboard. When I get tired of that, I can root and install my own firmware. Goodbye iPhone. I’ve always been a fan of Apples platform, but at this point, I’m not looking back.

    • mehrab

      Gs4 what were you thinking? Why not nexus 5? EWWW

      • Kenny Woodard

        My gs4 is running a KitKat launcher. Plus I did not have 400$ to shell out for a phone outright. I am on an AT&T plan. I did not like the camera on the Nexus 5 plus it did not come in red, but gs4 did. And I got a really good deal so I could not pass it up. Is GS4 the best android right now? Nope. But its a fine phone and definitely one of the Androids you can show off to iPhone users to make them envious.

      • mehrab

        Gs4 is crap. Htc one is better lg g2 is better the nexus 4 is a better buy even.

  • Justin Rowe

    Mine has done that with my thumb print but I’ve noticed the other fingers I’ve set and hardly use have been fine since I first set then up???

  • Amod Agrawal

    Yes. It seems to get worse with time.

  • Jason Masters

    Touch ID was only implemented because of the mayor of new Yorks complaints over all the thefts of apple devices known as apple picking.

  • RoffaboySUnbanMe

    Can someone unban me felixtaf got me banned disqus account is RoffaboyS.

  • calvin182

    I’ve always figured that the condition of your skin causes it to read differently. I work in the food industry and am constantly dipping my hands in sanitizer water, which is very corrosive on my hands. Often it leaves drys out, cuts/cracks and eats away small amounts of skin. Also, could the humidity play a role in this? If it’s humid, you skin would expand slightly, and when it’s dry it would be contracted, both scenarios yielding different results. I have to wonder if rescanning during seasonal changes could prevent issues.

  • bobism

    you have to make a new scan every month

  • michaes

    All I know is this issue has been happening for a month now. And apple didn’t even consider to address it. Disappointed. Nothing to do with my fingers. Touch ID worked flawlessly for about 2 3 weeks. I’m pretty sure the sensor stops scanning after a while when the phone is locked (Sometimes). And if anyone is thinking that my home button is not clean and I have to clean it. That’s not the case. When it doesn’t work, unlock the phone with the stupid passcode that I never used until Touch ID. Then lock it again. It will work. I still don’t have any clue if this is a hardware or software issue. And since I’m on 7.1 beta. And it still exists, I’m worried.. Tried EVERYTHING from restoring to deleting Twitter. I may have scanned my finger 50+ times. Don’t show me a video how to scan my finger. I’m pretty sure I didn’t make anything different first 3 weeks.

  • Brian

    I have the same problem. I thought I was losing my mind, but nope, it gets worse every 2-3 weeks.

  • Craig List

    apple junk… what else to expect…

  • Elizabeth Jensen

    Yes always with my 6. Plus and now with my 7 plus