Fingerprint readers are one of the perks of modern smartphones. You no longer have to worry if you forget your Apple password or your phone's unlock code. Your fingertip is your ticket into your iPhone. But the technology isn’t without its frustrations.
Apple’s fingerprint system is called Touch ID and you can use it to unlock your phone or authorize certain purchases through Apple Pay. Apple first introduced Touch ID with the iPhone 5S and it’s still a feature on the iPhone 8, although the X series eliminated it in place of facial recognition. At its best, you simply touch your finger to the home button on your iPhone and it will unlock. But what happens when it isn’t working well?
If you’re having some reliability issues with your Touch ID, then check out these tips that can help you get it to work right.
Why Apple Touch ID sometimes fails
Before you give up on your fingerprint sensor, it’s important to know why it sometimes doesn’t work. There are several main reasons for fingerprint failures and some of these may sound familiar to you. All of them are fixable.
- A dirty home button: Our phones put up with a lot from us. We may handle them with dirty fingers, drop food or beverages on them, or shove them into pockets full of lint. Your first step should be to clean any mess off the fingerprint reader. Apple recommends using a clean, lint-free cloth to wipe away dirt and debris. Also, take care that your finger is clean when you lay it on the sensor.
- Not covering the home button completely with your finger: Triggering the home button properly requires good positioning of your fingertip so that you cover the sensor. Apple warns against tapping too quickly or moving your finger around. Take care of your aim when you apply your finger to the button.
- A case gets in the way: Aftermarket cases can be a fun way to express your personal style with your phone, but be wary about ones that interfere with the fingerprint reader. If they cover up part of the home button, then it’s probably time to replace your case. Some people may experience issues with screen protectors, too, especially if the Touch ID cutout isn’t positioned properly.
- It's you: You’ve got a clean home button, you’re good at aiming your finger, and you don’t have a case or screen protector in the way. And you’re still having problems. What now? For starters, check your finger. Wet fingers can really mess with the sensor, so be sure your hand is clean and dry. You can also try enrolling multiple fingers, which Apple suggests you do if you continue to have problems.
A secret tip to make Touch ID work
Here’s one big tip that’s surprisingly under the radar. While you’re probably already aware that you can enroll more than one finger for Touch ID, you might not be aware that you can also enroll the same fingerprint more than once.
So go ahead and register your favorite finger two or three times. This step can do wonders for improving the accuracy of Touch ID and go a long way toward solving your fingerprint-reader woes. It only takes a few moments to go through the Touch ID registration process and the reward is easier and faster access to your iPhone.
Just head into your Settings, open up the Touch ID & Passcode settings, enter your passcode, and choose “Add a fingerprint” to see if this helps improve the accuracy of the reader.
Apple’s flagship iPhone X doesn’t have Touch ID, opting to use Face ID technology instead, but that doesn’t mean fingerprint readers are going out of fashion. Rumors suggest Apple may find a way to integrate a virtual fingerprint sensor into a future phone design. So keep your fingers limber, you’ll probably be needing them to unlock your phones for the foreseeable future.
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