Can Samsung do fingerprint ID better than Apple’s iPhone 5S?
FORTUNE — Here’s the challenge: To be incorporated as part of a regular start-up routine, fingerprint ID systems must be at least as easy and dependable as the pass codes they are meant to replace.
Which is why I finally gave up trying to use Apple’s (AAPL) TouchID system on my iPhone 5S.
Not that I’m a good test case. After 64 years of paper cuts, match burns, scarring and general wear and tear, the ridges on my left thumb are nearly worn off. I have trouble registering my print on TouchID, and have to re-register it nearly every day or my iPhone will forget who I am. (I gather from the comments on Apple’s support boards that I’m not the only one having these problems.)
I mention all this because a report Monday in SamMobile claims to have confirmed that Samsung’s next flagship smartphone — the Galaxy S5 — will not only feature a fingerprint recognition system like Apple’s, but one that will work better than TouchID.
Apple and HTC have already implemented fingerprint sensors into their devices,” writes SamMobile’s FaryaabS, “but none of their mobile devices use the sensor to its full potential, or like how Samsung is using in its upcoming Samsung Galaxy S5.”
I can’t dispute this. There are hundreds of competing fingerprint recognition systems — 670 participants registered 2,810 algorithms in this year’s Fingerprint Verification Contest — and we don’t know which (if any) Samsung is using.
But when Apple purchased AuthenTec for $356 million in July 2012 — more than it paid for any acquisition since NeXT — the biometric company was the world’s No. 1 provider of fingerprint verification systems. Its clients included Nokia, LG, HP, Motorola and Samsung.
Even then, Apple waited more than a year before it was ready to put a fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5S.
It’s possible that Samsung’s technology is way ahead of Apple’s. But given the timing, it feels like they’re playing catch-up.
UPDATE: I received many suggestions for how to improve my TouchID experience, almost all of which I had already tried. Repeatedly. But I hadn’t heard of Steve Gibson’s “overtraining” technique (explained step by step here). It’s quick and, so far (24 hours later), pretty effective. Fingers crossed.