Tip: Unlocking phones with dry fingers

Photo by Denny Ryanto on Unsplash

I perennially suffer from dry skin on my hands. It can be challenging some days and not a problem on others.

It is mostly just an inconvenience… especially when it comes to unlocking my phone using its fingerprint scanner! I have used a Google Pixel 2 XL for the past few years — after capturing my fingerprints on it, the scanner would work great for a few days and then just stop recognising me at all as the dryness kicks in.

I had almost given up and resigned myself to forever using PIN unlocking. It was only a few weeks ago I finally had an “aha” (or perhaps more like a “d’oh”) moment when I realised the solution to my problem. Instead of recording my index finger, middle finger and ring finger from each hand in different slots, I simply recorded the same finger in multiple slots. This has the effect of increasing the likelihood of a scan of that finger matching at least ‘something’ in the recorded fingerprint list.

So far, so good! In the time since I made this change, the scanner has worked reliably, and I could probably count on one hand (haha) how many times I have had to enter my PIN after exhausting the maximum fingerprint unlock attempts.

Hopefully this helps somebody else out there.

Disclaimer: Be aware that this action essentially weakens your phone’s security, since you are effectively watering down the fidelity of your fingerprints and increasing the chances of a false positive match ie. you increase the chances of others being able to unlock your phone. That being said, if you are truly security conscious, then using fingerprint scanners should be off your radar anyway.

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John Rix

John Rix

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