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Fingerprint Scanners: Are They Worth It?

Now is the time when most smartphones feature a fingerprint scanner and chances are quite high that you’re holding one of them. Currently, all high-end smartphones flaunt a fingerprint scanner while some mid-budget ones are getting them as well. The Coolpad Note 3 started the trend in mid-tier segment. It was launched back in 2015 for a price of Rs 8,999, making it the most affordable smartphone with a fingerprint scanner in India at that time. Also, it was the bestseller on Amazon where it was sold exclusively.

The fingerprint scanner is a new technology, and it’s only about time that it will make its way to all the smartphones. Apart from solely unlocking the device, the fingerprint scanner can also be used to authenticate payments. However, there are not many apps available on Play Store which support fingerprint authentication at the moment.

Fingerprint Scanner: Are they really necessary?

How does a fingerprint scanner work and does it provide any extra bit of security?

Any smartphone which features a fingerprint scanner, initially asks the user to input the fingerprint data which is then stored locally on the device. The fingerprint scanner then matches the user’s input with the stored data for authentication every time a user tries to unlock the device.

With a fingerprint scanner, it is much easier to unlock the device just with a single touch. Even for those who don’t put passwords or PIN on their device, it is better to unlock the device with a fingerprint scanner rather than pressing the power button and swiping to unlock the device.

For an average user, passwords are only used to make sure that their sibling or colleague don’t look through some embarrassing WhatsApp chat or photos. For this set of users, a fingerprint is a better choice considering passwords can be seen while unlocking the device.

Of course, it has some downsides too, like your siblings could use your finger to unlock the device while you’re sleeping. Also, fingerprint scanner doesn’t work if you’re at the gym and your fingers are sweaty. It also becomes a big hassle when your work requires your fingers to get all beat up and dirty. Although Qualcomm has introduced the ‘Sense ID’ – the 3D fingerprint technology with Snapdragon 820 which uses ultrasonic rays made to work even with sweaty and beat up fingers. But only a handful of devices feature these ultrasonic fingerprint scanners so far.

How much does the location of Fingerprint Scanner matter? Front vs Back?

We will say that the location of a fingerprint scanner is a personal preference. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of each location.

Fingerprint scanners located at back are easy to reach with the index finger while holding the device. Also, some devices like the Google Pixel and the Huawei Honor 8 offer additional features like pulling down the notification panel with a swipe on the fingerprint scanner. However, this location does have its share of cons. In Initial days, you have to hunt for the fingerprint scanner as it’s located at back. The scanner cannot be accessed while the device is lying on a surface. You cannot even interact with your phone or check notifications but if you can adjust with this tiny issue, fingerprint scanner located at back is a great option. Google has also chosen this option for this Nexus and Pixel lineup of the devices.

The Fingerprint scanner on front can be accessed only with your thumbs and sometimes it can be harder to reach if you have a device with a 5.5-inch screen or bigger. Also, it is a little easy to use the fingerprint scanner on the front as it is easy to see and hit whereas the ones on the back can be hard to locate at times. Lenovo Z2 Plus is a good choice for a phone with a fingerprint scanner on the front, as you can customize it to perform 7 different tasks just with a touch on the fingerprint scanner. Even the iPhone‘s TouchID and the fingerprint scanner on Mi 5S is located under the display.

Are there any downsides of using a fingerprint scanner?

Well, yes there are few downsides but such a scenario is far-fetched. As I said earlier, the fingerprint data is usually stored locally on phone storage. And ideally, it should be stored with an encryption, but there were reports of few devices with unencrypted fingerprint data which could be really dangerous and may result in data breaching.

Another problem is that passwords and PIN are changeable, but biometrics are not. Once your fingerprint data is compromised, all your devices could be hacked. Although, no doubt fingerprint scanners provide an added level of security against petty thieves stealing your device. Though the fingerprint scanner is not completely foolproof, but it does make the unauthorized access of the data on a device a lot harder.

So, what do you think? Is it really necessary these days to have a smartphone with a fingerprint scanner? Or, is it just another marketing gimmick by smartphone manufacturers to sell the phones? Tell us in the comments.

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Narender Charan

Associate Editor at PriceBaba. The skinniest guy you can find in the crowd of Mumbai. Loves to read, travel and sleep in that order. Have a dream to get fat someday.

One Comment

    • Ankur
    • December 2, 2016

    From a pure convenience purpose, I like it. Entering a pin or passcode frequently can be annoying.

    Reply

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