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A fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5S – Apple could do better

iPhone5s fingerprint scanner

Haven’t you heard yet? Apple’s announced two new iPhones and everyone’s a bit disappointed. And the one new piece of interesting tech – a fingerprint scanner – is far from meeting its potential.

Like a pair of overbearing parents after hearing that their A-grade offspring has received a B-minus in biology, the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C have prompted a hum of polite discontent from consumers and tech journos alike.

‘You used to be such an innovator, Apple. Have those Android kids been bullying you again?’

‘Tim Cook’s leading your class, right? Maybe we should have a word.’

‘I mean, a fingerprint scanner of all things. What were you thinking?’

The iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C

For the most part I’m on the side of mild outrage. The iPhone 5C is far too pricey (£469) to be considered a budget-friendly blower and the iPhone 5S is lacking a killer feature.

I like that the iPhone 5S camera has bigger pixels than before and comes with two LED flash bulbs; these twin innovations should provide for better photos in low light. An improved battery life is also something to be welcomed. But then there’s the fingerprint scanner, which is now built into the iPhone home button…

‘A fingerprint scanner. Really?’

While the iPhone 5S’ fingerprint scanner is irksome, what’s most annoying about this feature is that it’s barely being used by Apple. Although it makes good sense to protect your mobile with a passcode, most iPhone users don’t. The fingerprint scanner might make more people secure their phone, but that type of functionality isn’t exciting me.

iphone5s fingerprint scanner

Where the fingerprint scanner (its technology is pictured to the right) would have come in handy is making purchases through your mobile. Now, you can apparently use it to buy apps, music and movies from the AppStore, but there’s so much more potential.

Using your iPhone to slyly buy gig tickets from your office desk *cough* or ordering your week’s shopping online *splutter* is something more and more of us are doing. Yet, if some nefarious character gets a-hold of your phone and cracks your passcode, this could leave your bank details at risk.

Fingerprint-lead shopping could be a much more secure way of buying both digital and physical goods online. Plus, it would prove an easy way to stop children over-spending on in-app purchasing – unless they are cunning enough to do this.

Will the iPhone 5S turn your head?

Above all else, this is what perplexes me about Apple’s latest iPhone launch. The Cupertino-based company may well have created an essential new mobile feature and then failed to make the most of its potential. At least, so far.

We’ll see how the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C perform when we get them into our test labs but, for the moment, Apple’s school report is very much reading ‘must do better’.


Yet, if some nefarious character gets a-hold of your phone and cracks your passcode, this could leave your bank details at risk” – how would one’s bank details be at risk? Mobile banking apps are protected by their own security in addition to the iPhone’s PIN or fingerprint reader.

The bit I don’t understand is about LTE frequencies. Apple yesterday updated its list of supported LTE bands for the iPhone 5S. I don’t understand why model A1457 (for UK, France and Germany) is missing support for three LTE bands compared to model A1530 (for Australia, Hong Kong, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore). Why doesn’t Apple supply model A1530 in the UK, France and Germany? Why is there an inferior model A1457 for these three European countries? This doesn’t make any sense.

Wrong way round, Mr Leedham says: “The Cupertino-based company may well have created an essential new mobile feature and then failed to make the most of its potential”.

Apple are not dim.

They have made the most of the potential of fingerprint biometrics in this case. They may even have exceeded it.

Biometrics today is flaky technology at best, ill-equipped to authenticate transactions. Apple know that. That’s why they didn’t go further with the 5S.

I think all outlaw criminals should carry the new fingerprint technology iPhone and when they are wanted by the police the technology plus GPS can be used to locate them and return them to prison. A terrific use of the technology.

I cannot understand why the public expect new phones and other gadgets to be a huge step forward from the previous model.

What would really impress me would be for Apple to launch an iPhone with a replaceable battery.

To buy the iPhone 5C handset outright it costs $549 in the US and £469 in the UK, according to the Daily Mail. On todays currency converter, $549 US dollars equals £347 pounds sterling. Why is the price in the UK over a £120 greater than in the US. Are we subsidising the US consumers or what accounts for the huge price difference?

How did you calculate £120? GBP/USD is currently around 1.5800. £469 ÷ 1.20 = £390.83 excluding VAT. Multiple that by 1.5800 and you get $617.52. The price difference between pre-tax prices is $68.52, a lot less than £120. You can’t take tax into account, because Apple has no control over that.

US prices do not include sales tax – UK prices DO include VAT

I used an online converter. I input 549 and selected US dollars, then checked GBP and that converted the dollars to pounds, £347 in fact. Take that figure away from the £469 pounds and you get £122 difference. The sale price here and the US was suplied by the Daily Mail. If they did not include taxes for the US sales then of course my conclusion is wrong. I would not expect ex VAT prices to be quoted for the UK and would expect inclusive maximum or average tax prices to be quoted for the US so we know if we’re being ripped off.

No, US prices are always quoted excluding sales tax, because it varies by state (and even within a state) and in some cases is zero. Even at a US bricks and mortar shop where there the sales tax is certain and known, such a misleading indication of price is the norm and legal, unlike in most European countries where this practice is illegal. I wouldn’t trust any information from the Daily Mail anyway; their journalism is usually very sloppy.

NFH, I accept what you say about tax. You as our globetrotting member should know. The Mail or any other publication should state if taxes are included when they quote prices for different countries.

“While the iPhone 5S’ fingerprint scanner is irksome” Really how would you know this? had you used the iPhones fingerprint reader on the 11th of September then ? I didnt think it was released until 20th September.

Is there anyway to overide fingerprint scanner? I purchased secondhand iphone 5s but cannot use it! Im not technically minded

The passcode is an alternative to using the fingerprint scanner. Here are instructions for what to do if the phone is disabled: https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT204306