My Faulty iPhone5s TouchID


I am writing this as an annoyed apple fan, on Monday (30/10/2013) I returned from being in Mexico when the new iPhones were released and after a little jet lag busting sleep, my wife and I headed to the local EE store to buy new iPhones. I haven’t updated my phone since the iPhone 4 so the 5s is perfect for me and with a little one on the way the camera improvements were the top of my want list. The fingerprint sensor is a nice to have especially for paying for apps, but I have tried other sensors in the past and sometimes it is just a gimmick but I expected quality from Apple. (with video)

After spending far too long in the EE store (an experience for another article) we returned home, my wife with her new 32GB Silver iPhone5s and me with the 32GB Space Grey (which I prefer calling graphite). First thing I did after unboxing the iPhone was to fit the new Belkin screen protector I had (I didn’t do this with my iPhone 4 and regretted it later), and dived into iOS 7.

Setup was a breeze and when it came to setting up the fingerprint security I was impressed, it worked just as I had seen on videos, smoothly and unlocked with minimal problems. I added both thumbprints, a finger and my wife’s thumb (I also added mine to my wife’s iPhone). I was a happy bunny not only with the touch ID but the phone in general, it is so fast compared to the iPhone 4 and the camera is amazing, especially for taking photos of documents (which I do a lot). However little did I know the problems to come…

Now the exact timeline here is a little fuzzy, I don’t know if I experienced the first issue before the update to 7.0.2 or after but the major problems came after updating to 7.0.2 on Tuesday (1 day old). While walking around the same shopping centre I found that I was unable to unlock my phone with my thumb print (I original though ah well my prints must be bad), this soon became very annoying as I was not used to having a passcode so went in removed the fingerprints stored on the device and retrained to phone to know my prints. Success, it unlocked again! So back in the pocket it went and next time I took it out….no luck, constantly getting the “try again” message.

This sequence of events repeated itself 10+ times until when I tried to add a finger print for the 11th or so time (after deleting others) it simple said “Failed” before letting me add one. This was rectified by a system reboot but now it was getting harder and harder for it recognise my fingerprint. Despite keeping my finger still (I tried many different methods) I keep getting one of 2 conflicting messages “Don’t move your finger too much between scans” and “Move your finger a little between scans”. I HAVEN”T MOVED IT!!! I screamed at my phone, getting ever more frustrated. Sometimes it gets to the end of the first scan phase but just again says “Failed”. I once got it to the end but it still could not recognise my print after.

I could try a factory reset but I think if that worked it would only mask the problem, this kind of degradation in 2 days is a blatant technical problem as I can and have repeatedly added my print to my wife’s silver iPhone 5s and can unlock hers at will. Weirdly she has larger finger print ridges and hers is the only finger print in the last day we have been able to add to my iPhone. I have tested this with around 6 other people, some get further in the process and some don’t. Personally I think it is a serious sensitivity/quality issue in the fingerprint reader.

I tried on Wednesday to get a replacement from the Apple Store (genius bar booked up for a week) and EE (can only replace in the same store the phone was purchased from – again, separate review) but failed so I am returning to the original store tonight.

Further to this, today it has developed a weird bug where it wont even begin to scan my finger, sometimes registers a scan before I touch the button and thinks my finger is one the button when it is not. Here’s the video.


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