You're using your Android fingerprint reader all wrong

Like many, I have been struggling with the unreliability of fingerprint readers on Android smartphones for ages. Good news! I've found a few solutions.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Fingerprint readers offer a quick and convenient way to unlock Android smartphones.

When it works.

If you work with your hands, you may have noticed that the fingerprint reader can be somewhat unreliable, requiring several jabs from the meat nugget to work. It only takes an additional second or so, but it's a speed bump when it comes to unlocking.

So, what's the problem?

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The problem is that fingerprints wear out and change as you work with your hands. It's not enough of a change to allow you to get away with crimes, but the wear and tear and scuffs and scars can be enough to fool the scanner.

Fingerprints on my index finger are worn and unreliable on my fingerprint readers

Fingerprints on my index finger are worn and unreliable on my fingerprint readers

If you work with your hands outdoors or as a technician, this will be an issue, but it's also an issue for people with demanding hobbies such as rock climbing or CrossFit.

So, short of getting a hand double to unlock your handset for you, what can you do?

I've come across three workarounds to this problem.

1. Give Android the middle finger


Use the fingerprints on your middle finger. Sure, it takes a little bit of getting used to, but I (along with others I've shared this trick with) have found that the prints on the middle finger takes less damage than other fingers.

This is particularly handy for Android smartphones that have the fingerprint reader on the back.

2. Use the side of a finger (or thumb)

Rather than using the tips of the fingers, use the sides, especially the thumb. Again, it's a spot that takes less damage.

This works well for smartphones with side-mounted fingerprint readers.

3. Game the system

Another trick I find works well is to enroll the same finger with the fingerprint reader several times over a period of time. This way, it learns to read your fingerprint through the random scuffs and scars over a period of time.

This trick is handy for those who don't want to change the finger they use to unlock their smartphone.

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