iPhone 5S Fingerprint Scanner : A Gimmick, A Game-Changer Or NSA’s Dream?


Apple today announced the launch of iPhone 5S and 5C models, thereby discontinuing the current model iPhone 5 instead of giving it a traditional price-cut. While the 5S has some extraordinary features like the A7 chip, making it 56 times faster than the original iPhone and a very well revamped camera system, it also has the much-talked about and hyped fingerprint scanner.


How good or bad is it for us?

The fingerprint scanner basically rescues Apple’s reputation as an innovator with cutting-edge technological features which influence the way people use their phones.

Biometric security is back on the smartphones. Since the 2011 Motorola Atrix 4G, a top-notch mobile would be carrying the fingerprint scanner. Last year, Apple bought security company AuthenTec for $356 million dollars. Rumours were adrift of a revolutionary security system in smartphones and here it is!

Passcode has passed away and made way for Touch ID sensor. Bang on the home button, the Touch ID capacitive sensor is 170 microns thin with a 550 ppi resolution and scans your sub-epidermal skin layers.

Yes, it has 360 degree orientation and can read in any direction. So simply touching the home button should unlock the phone. Also, it handles multiple fingerprints too for guest profiles. The best part is it allows users to log in more quickly.

Technology Inside Touch ID Sensor

Outermost is the laser-cut sapphire crystal which is scratch-proof. Yes, sapphire is a gemstone and one of the hardest materials around. Next to it is the stainless steel detection ring which gives the home button a unique look. Then comes the patented Touch ID sensor and finally the Tactile switch.

Fingerprint scanner

The fingerprint can also be scanned to authenticate purchases on the iTunes store instead of the password as Apple citied research that about half of smartphone users do not have a pass code set up on their device.

Are our fingerprints unique? Every human being, even identical twins, has different patterns of fingerprints. Though they can be broadly classified into Arch, Loop and Whorl, no two persons have the same prints.

As more secure transactions occur through smartphones, banks and payment companies would be the happiest.

The catch: Apple claims the fingerprints are ‘offline’ and never available to other software.

Neither it is uploaded to Apple’s servers nor is it backed up to iCloud. It claims the fingerprint is encrypted and secured inside a secure enclave on the A7 chip. But then, together, all the 5S’s would serve as a huge repository of EVERYONE’s fingerprints. Millions of Americans’ to begin with. Living in the era of Edward Snowden, this would give goose bumps: Any Government agency (read: NSA) might get access to it for their spying endeavors and spy on you and your activities. That’s Spooky!

Also, we still don’t know if the Touch ID checks for skin pores, finger temperature and pulse (all inside your finger). If not, hacking could be easily carried out using rubber fingers and photo scanned fingerprints which can potentially fool the system.

Best part is: it is optional; you can choose not to enable it! But then, are you happy with this tech marvel or worried of its interference and potential misuse?

Would love to hear your views here.

[Source: Images]

  1. Not sure what to think Amit. If it gives better protection then maybe it is worth it, but the potential for abuse is a definite concern. Also, I hear the price tag is pretty steep, at least initially. What is the cost of these?

  2. Mihir Naik says

    I think, It’s a marketing gimmick ! As you said, they have survived their “Innovative tech company !” image by acquiring that company and using their systems ..! Whatever !

    Further, I am little bit convinced with your thoughts on NSA thing ! As I see, we all are having spying device in our pocket and now One more feature is added to the same device !

    This question has been on dark side since long ! Now let’s see how it goes !

    Btw, I will not enable that thing, for sure :D

  3. Arun Prabhudesai says

    Hey Amit – In my book, this is superficial innovation. Nothing great about it. Yes, they have probably refined it by combining software with great hardware. But from utility perspective, I dont see if it matters much. Android has so many great unlocker apps for atleast couple of years now…

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