When Samsung announced the fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy S5, it was blindingly obvious that the feature was added simply to make sure the device did not fall in any way whatsoever behind the iPhone 5s. The way the two companies introduced the feature was such contrast, with Apple talking a lot about its Touch ID, how was it made, functioned etc while Samsung literally just passed it on, like just another addition. We have been using the Samsung Galaxy S5 as our daily driver for the past few days, and we must admit we were pretty psyched about using the fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy S5.
However, five minutes in with about five times unlocking the device using it, we did not come out too happy, here is why:
1) It totally has killed the Feedback on the Home button
Both the iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy S5 have the fingerprint scanner built into the Home button. However, clicking the Home button on iPhone 5s certainly feels no different than clicking the same on say the iPhone 5 which does not have the Touch ID. However, on the Galaxy S5, clicking the Home button just feels incomplete as it provides a poor feedback as compared to say a Galaxy S4 which does not have the sensor in-built. It makes you not feel very confident about clicking it, in a way making you feel like there is some sort of dust inside the device which is preventing the click from going through. This can be a minor annoyance if you are conscious about little details.
2) It’s plain awkward to use
Once again, comparing the Galaxy S5 to the iPhone 5s, because that is inevitable given the feature. Unlocking the iPhone 5s feels natural and comfortable, as you just keep your finger on the Home button and click it like you would on any other iPhone with no finger print sensor. However, with the Galaxy S5, you have to make an effort to swipe down on the Home Button, that too at a very specific speed at a particular angle, which is 90 degree to the Home button and only then it unlocks the device. This can be a major gripe, if you want to quickly unlock the phone and are in a bit of a hurry as the sensor takes ages to detect the fingerprint. If you have small hands, this still works well, given you will obviously hold the phone in one hand and can swipe from the other hand, but for someone with larger hands like us, who like to keep the phone usage to one hand, this was plain awkward as naturally, your thumb (our registered finger) always falls at about 45 degree when holding the phone in single handle which never works. Here is a video demonstration of what we are trying to say:
3) There are times it just bypasses
If you quickly lock and unlock your phone, there are bound to be times, when the fingerprint sensor plain is bypassed. You can simply unlock the phone by swiping and that is it. If you are someone who cares stuff about security, then this can be a bit of a bother. We did not notice this flaw, until one of the family members who was trying the device, simply walked through the security without having to input their fingerprint. Obviously a minor issue, but we do hope Samsung has a fix for this in the upcoming software updates.
4) It just doesn’t do enough
One of the major complains we had with the Touch ID was that it did not do enough, and that stands here too. Given the closed ecosystem in which Apple likes to operate, it would be a big deal to think that they would allow Third Party apps to integrate with Touch ID. However, you would have thought Samsung would have made a bit more of an effort to do so with the S5. They could have partnered with some of the leading banks or even apps like PayTM, Bookmyshow, IRCTC etc for a quick one touch payment. This would have been a secure mode of payment given it involved biometrics plus you could have seen a greater utility for the sensor. Samsung has already got Paypal on board with their new app supporting payment authentication via the sensor, but that’s just one case. We understand such partnerships can be cumbersome but still hope Samsung would be able to work on them swiftly because one touch payment could well be the next differentiator in the mobile commerce space.
5) It takes the most time of the other methods available
We used three different lock mechanism on our Galaxy S5. A simple text/number based password, pattern lock and the fingerprint scanner. Given, you want quick access to your device and unlocking should be a swift procedure on your device, the swiping of finger method was slowest of the lot. It was no surprise that the other methods were quicker and convenient. Not just this, the device after recognizing the print, takes a split second to go to the homescreen while it was pretty much instant with pattern unlock. As a result, we ended up enabling pattern unlock and kept away from the fingerprint scanner as we like to get into the device quicker.
It is pretty clear that Samsung has not fully optimised the fingerprint scanner on the S5 just yet. However, we hope some of the upcoming software updates would make using the feature a bit more friendly and faster. Obviously nothing can be done in places where hardware complexities kick in, but we do hope that enough (including payments) would be added to the feature to make it useful and not just left over as a gimmicky thing that just doesn’t fit the bill.