"Inside" the fingerprint sensor of the new iPhone 5S

The new Apple iPhone 5S is here, and with it - a fingerprint sensor! But what does it do, and do we really need this stuff? Well, we can't offer you a complete answer just yet, but from what we saw during Apple's presentation, it looks like this new iPhone feature will prove to be quite handy in our everyday usage.

As expected, the fingerprint sensor of the iPhone 5S will be built right into the new home button (which has a new design, by the way). That means the home button will no longer be just a piece of plastic, but will actually have some quite sophisticated technology behind it.

"Inside" the fingerprint sensor of the new iPhone 5S
Here's how it goes: on the surface we have the super-high-quality laser-cut sapphire crystal that will protect the home button from scratches; around it there's going to be a stainless steel ring, also called "detection ring"; immediately behind the glass cover is going to be the so-called Touch ID sensor, and finally, tehre's going to be a tactile switch.

Now that we've gotten the hardware part out of the way, let's focus on the usability cases of the fingerprint sensor. Actually, Apple hasn't been that specific when it comes to each and every way we're going to benefit from Touch ID, but we at least know that the fingerprint sensor will be used for easy and secure locking/unlocking of the device, as well as for quick authorization of iTunes purchases... which is all a pretty big deal, by the way. According to Apple, most users don't really bother to set up a pass code for their phones, because it takes some time to unlock your device every time, and there's some solid truth behind that. With the new Touch ID fingerprint scanner, though, every iPhone 5S can be easily secured, and in a way that will enable only you (and the other people whose fingerprints you've scanned) to access it. The fingerprint taken by the iPhone 5S will be stored in such a way on the device, which will make it impossible to be downloaded or uploaded to the internet, or even to Apple's own iCloud. When it comes to Touch ID prints, every sample is going to remain on the phone only. And, as we said, the sensor will be able to "remember" multiple prints, so that it won't be impossible to share your phone with others. All of this means that security with the iPhone 5S will get a pretty nice boost, as using the Touch ID sensor to unlock your device will be extremely quick and easy, while others will no longer be able to "guess" your passcode.

The other use case mentioned by Apple — authorizing iTunes purchases — also sounds like a wonderful feature. No longer are we going to need to enter our iTunes passwords each time we want to buy a new app, game, album or whatever. Now, a simple touch on the iPhone 5S's fingerprint sensor will be enough to tell the device that it's really you who wants to make this purchase.

All in all, we're very excited about the fingerprint sensor of the iPhone 5S. It's really an innovative feature (yes, other phones have had such technology in the passed, but they haven't utilized it in a way that would make it go mainstream) that promises to enhance our daily smartphone usage, and that's a very good thing.

Images courtesy of The Verge
Images courtesy of The Verge

Images courtesy of The Verge


Related phones

iPhone 5s
  • Display 4.0" 640 x 1136 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A7, Dual-core, 1300 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 1570 mAh(10h 3G talk time)

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48 Comments

1. Sauce unregistered

iLove it!

9. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

They just need to add 3rd party access to this feature and its a home-run. Secure and quick login into your banking apps, amazon, etc. would be really cool.

11. Sauce unregistered

Yes that would be great! I used to have a big feeling that something like that would happen, but after they announced that all the fingerprint data will remain only on the processor and no where else (iCloud, servers, etc etc) I'm not sure what to think.

18. zennacko unregistered

For me it\'s good news enough... especially in case you lose or someone steals the phone... since it\'s locked on processor, not even re-formatting the phone would be enough for the thieves. Would be good if some data were on some server, too, but this seems good as it is for now, at least there won\'t be any kiddies blowing their parents\' wallet playing candy crush anymore (unless it\'s not meant to be used as in-app purchase security too...)

39. GoJin

Posts: 10; Member since: Feb 05, 2013

.until McGyver gets a hold of some gelly thingy, copies the finger print of the owner on that gel. Then place the gel on top of the sensor...presto! one heck of an \"innovation\", hehe. oh, Apple realized this work-around so they \"innovated\" some more by adding voice recognition to increase security that goes with the finger print sensor...but alas! Jason Bourne comes, does his thing, going, \"Noah Vossen\" click! Apple goes...fffffff*****kkkkk!!!! but I love having this on my gadgets though. :P

2. andro.

Posts: 1999; Member since: Sep 16, 2011

Seeing how often the current iphone home button goes fault,especially just after the 12 month warranty is up I've a feeling this finger print scanner is gonna cause some major headaches when it stops working for mobile network sales staff!!

3. Dorothy69

Posts: 498; Member since: May 21, 2013

So what happens if you jAiLbreak your phone and swap out the Home button, how would you unlock/authorize it??

5. Sauce unregistered

What do you mean Jailbreak the phone and swap out the Home Button? Do you mean customize the Home Button with third party home buttons?

6. PAPINYC

Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

Click your iHeels three times, that should take you home.

4. Googler

Posts: 813; Member since: Jun 10, 2013

Normally I'd say they are a gimmick but having them also act as a password to eliminate steps isn't a bad idea. Wonder if all those articles about kids charging hundreds/thousands of dollars in iTunes on their parents phones had anything to do with this?

10. good2great

Posts: 1042; Member since: Feb 22, 2012

great observation.

26. SellPhones82

Posts: 569; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

If you add your kids print as an "approved" one so they can unlock it, won't they then be able to purchase stuff the same way? Will there be different levels of access for a given print like unlock only and/or purchasing on/off? I ending up having to remove my CC all together from my son's iPad since they were order things all the time! Now I just load gift cards and when he burns through them he's done til I load more.

34. Googler

Posts: 813; Member since: Jun 10, 2013

Good question. Google recently adapted multi-users for Android, not sure if Apple is thinking that way also.

7. timtimity

Posts: 196; Member since: Aug 13, 2012

Interesting idea, but what happens if it breaks. Wonder if you'll have to put a passcode in when you add your fingerprint for the first time as a backup.

47. dvada191

Posts: 8; Member since: Sep 15, 2013

I think if you don't set a passcode, then you can just swipe to unlock as usual.

8. GrapeEyes

Posts: 248; Member since: Sep 01, 2013

NSA are rubbing their hands together, now they can plant your finger prints at a crime scene. . .

46. dvada191

Posts: 8; Member since: Sep 15, 2013

Yeah, but they've been able to do that for a while. Do you seriously think that the NSA will now "just" be able to get your fingerprint? Bah.

12. saiki4116

Posts: 413; Member since: Mar 31, 2011

Accident scans.. ::::::D

13. nhojekim3310

Posts: 2; Member since: Sep 10, 2013

First of all, having a fingerprint scanner is very risky. My wife is an IT auditor and told me back then about having fingerprint scanner on laptops were and still are very risky. Now they are putting it on a mobile device…What happens when you lose your phone, where your fingerprint is stored...

15. Ninetysix

Posts: 2933; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

Yeah! what happens when you touch ANYTHING where your fingerprint is stored. Does you and your wife wear gloves 24/7 btw? Just curious.

16. nhojekim3310

Posts: 2; Member since: Sep 10, 2013

Wow….another troll.

28. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

Your fingerprints are stored on the phone itself. If you lose your phone, no one will be able to unlock it without your Apple ID. Also you can remote wipe the data from your iPhone. This doesn\'t seem any more risky/dangerous than it already is now.

14. PK1983

Posts: 215; Member since: Aug 08, 2012

The NSA probably paid Apple a few hundred million of our tax dollars to include this feature.

45. dvada191

Posts: 8; Member since: Sep 15, 2013

Why would they? That's a waste of money, considering the fingerprints are stored on the A7 chip itself.

17. fervid

Posts: 183; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

Gotta run your stuff through spelling and grammar check Ray. And, in the last paragraph it is past, not passed.

19. chrisjoel21190

Posts: 3; Member since: Dec 14, 2012

People! Don\'t be surprised if you see people with missing fingers all of a sudden, we not only have to worry about getting our phones stolen but thieves tryna chop off our fingers. THANKS A LOT APPLE! :/

20. Ninetysix

Posts: 2933; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

You're welcome. What kind of anti-thief measurements do you have setup on your smartphone currently? Let's see if your implementation is any better.

21. chrisjoel21190

Posts: 3; Member since: Dec 14, 2012

Yeah dude, I\'d rather just have my phone stolen and keep all my fingers, but that\'s just me.

32. rawbow

Posts: 428; Member since: Mar 30, 2012

well they said that the phone would not register dead fingers...so there you go!

22. valapsp

Posts: 565; Member since: Aug 12, 2011

anyone mentioned the loss of the square in the center of the home button? it's ugly now!

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