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Touch ID on Apple’s iPhone 5s is losing accuracy over time for some users

Updated Dec 5th, 2013 2:10PM EST
Touch ID Bug

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The shine is already wearing off of Apple’s new Touch ID technology for some iPhone 5s owners. Apple unveiled its latest flagship iPhone this past September and along with it, a new embedded fingerprint scanner brought about by the company’s 2012 acquisition of mobile security firm AuthenTec for $356 million. Dubbed Touch ID, the new technology places a sapphire glass-covered fingerprint scanner in the home button of Apple’s iPhone 5s and allows users to unlock the device or authenticate App Store purchases with just the touch of a finger. The new tech is among a few main selling points for the iPhone 5s, but a new report suggests some users are already having trouble with it after less than three months on the market.

“Dr. Drang,” who is described by 5by5 as “a consulting engineer well known amongst nerds on the Internet,” recently wrote on his blog And now it’s all this that he’s having some issues with Touch ID on his iPhone.

“I’ve been using Touch ID since I got an iPhone 5s in mid-October,” Drang wrote. “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.”

The good doctor continued, “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.”

Curious indeed, but one isolated issue doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem. According to John Gruber of Daring Fireball, however, the issue isn’t exactly isolated.

“Drang is not alone — I’ve had a handful of readers ask me about this recently,” Gruber noted. “Makes me think there’s something to it. Me, personally, though, I haven’t noticed any drop-off in accuracy.”

Like Gruber, we haven’t experienced any issues with the print reader on our devices. We also haven’t seen any reports of this issue outside of the ones noted above. The iPhone 5s is still less than three months old, however, so this may be something to watch for as time progresses.

UPDATE: Of note, numerous people have posted responses on Twitter and sent BGR emails indicating that they are experiencing Touch ID accuracy degradation as described in this post.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.