iPhone Touch ID

More Touch ID Details Surface in Apple Patents

When Apple first revealed the Touch ID system, the company described a "secure enclave" within the A7 chip which stores sensitive fingerprint data. Now thanks to two patent applications detailed by Patently Apple, the mechanics of this secure enclave have been explained.

Touch ID exploded

Images of fingerprints are never stored in the secure enclave or elsewhere. Fingerprint map input from the Touch ID sensor is processed and stored using a kind of encryption. For security when unlocking the iPhone, MacRumors explains that "the enclave only allows fingerprints to be checked against known valid ones, not the other way around."

The iPhone 5s Home Button is Not Repairable

The days of swapping out a broken home button in a do-it-yourself (DIY) iPhone repair are over. Now that the iPhone 5s features Touch ID, iMore points out new hardware security features that could mean more trips to the Genius Bar. This is a side effect of protecting fingerprint data by locking down the Touch ID components.

iPhone 5s home button

The image above from iFixit shows the fingerprint sensor and component cable assembly, which are uniquely linked to each individual A7 chip. This extra layer of security means that each iPhone 5s has its own Touch ID harware, which will only work with that specific device. Swapping out the assembly for new parts results in a nonworking Touch ID system.

How to clean the Touch ID sensor?

Sometimes the iPhone 5s has problems reading a fingerprint. The Touch ID system can be sensitive to moisture, lotions, oils, sweat and dry skin. Activities can also temporarily affect fingerprint scanning, such as swimming, showering or exercising.

To ensure the Touch ID hardware works properly, make sure your finger and the iPhone 5s home button are clean and dry.

To clean the Touch ID sensor, use a clean, lint-free cloth to wipe away dirt or debris from the surface of the home button.

How many fingerprints can be stored on iPhone 5s?

Touch ID makes it possible to secure the iPhone with a fingerprint in addition to entering a four-digit passcode. This can save time and effort, making unlocking iOS as simple as placing a finger on the home button.

Touch ID will store up to 10 individual fingerprints. Although there have been reports of a way to store more fingerprints thanks to a quirk in how the Touch ID software works.


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