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Growing reports of Touch ID unlocks being slow or unreliable in iOS 9.1


There have been an increasing number of reports from iPhone users running iOS 9.1 that Touch ID is proving slow or unreliable. The issue was first spotted by Forbes earlier this week.

The complaints are similar: users running iOS 9.1 find Touch ID either refuses to recognise a user’s fingerprint, has become highly unreliable or doesn’t even register a fingerprint pressed against it. Users have tried hard resets (holding in the power and home button for 10 seconds) and complete factory resets without any success.

The issue appears to be affecting a small minority of users, but enough to suggest that it is more than coincidence …

Apple was last year forced to pull the iOS 8.0.1 update after reports of problems with both Touch ID and cellular connectivity.

Separately, some users – myself included – are regularly being required to enter our passcodes to unlock our phones, a message saying this is required after 48 hours. Apple’s support page says that a passcode unlock is a requirement when the phone hasn’t been unlocked at all for more than 48 hours, but iOS 9.1 seems to have introduced a bug for some where Touch ID unlocks are not being counted.

A very old Apple Support Communities thread dating back to an unrelated issue with profiles has been resurrected with reports of this latest bug.

An Apple patent for using Touch ID as a ‘panic button‘ was published yesterday.

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  1. chaityacshah - 7 years ago

    I am facing this….

  2. Steven Mason - 7 years ago

    me to

  3. rogifan - 7 years ago

    Works fine for me.

  4. feonix2014 - 7 years ago

    If anything I find it’s on looking too fast if I go to check the time for example will see my recent notifications It unlocked straightaway

  5. prolango - 7 years ago

    Me too

  6. I’m facing this issue sometimes.

  7. Ian Schrader - 7 years ago

    I’ve seen the 48 hour thing 3 days in a row, then nothing for a week. Also had issues with touch ID for unlock, but not for in app activities.

  8. iSRS - 7 years ago

    Those facing the issue, what device? My wife has a 5s, and haven’t noticed it, though, tbh, she rarely uses Touch ID, but I do when I unlock her phone.

    On my 6s, I dare say it is so speedy that it is one fluid motion, so much so I changed my “check the time/notifications” behavior to using the sleep/wake button

  9. eizan70 - 7 years ago

    Generally speaking my Touch ID works fine. I have been getting the 48 hour message to enter passcode on both my iPad Air 2 and iPhone 6s Plus occasionally/randomly and I use both throughout the day, everyday.

    • 89p13 - 7 years ago

      I’ve seen it once on my iPad Air 2 – but never on mine or my wife’s 6s Plus? All of our devices are running 9.1.

      • eizan70 - 7 years ago

        II have only had it happen once that I noticed on the 6s plus, usually it is occurring on my Air 2

  10. realgurahamu - 7 years ago

    I call coincidence and user error. I have no issues whatsoever with my European non-Samsung cpu hardware

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      I doubt anyone has suddenly forgotten how to use Touch ID …

      • rnc - 7 years ago

        Define “everybody “, 10 or 20 users in an universe of hundreds of millions?

    • Nope. I set up a 5S for a friend and ran him through the print learning process – it was working great for a few weeks. Software update and a little while later his thumb is no longer able to unlock the phone at all, no matter how he puts it on the sensor.

      • srgmac - 7 years ago

        Really? I have a 5S — it works great for me…

  11. tush4r - 7 years ago

    Almost the same, Touch ID refuses to read my prints and I will have to turn off and on the screen to make it work.

  12. I’ve had the issue with Touch ID not even scanning my fingerprint every now and then since I received my iPhone 6s on launch day.

  13. Chris Casio Starling - 7 years ago

    I am having the same exact problem with my iPhone as well.

  14. Andrew Farmer - 7 years ago

    I’ve had the 48 hour notice several times in 9.1 on my iPhone 6s and also on my iPad Air 2 which is running the 9.2 beta.

  15. Don Owens - 7 years ago

    Just the opposite for me. It seems like the slightest touch unlocks it, which is annoying.

  16. - 7 years ago

    Same problem here with 6s/9.1.

  17. guacho8 - 7 years ago

    My Touch ID works fine but I noticed it’s a tad slower now with 9.1. before it was pretty much instantaneous…

  18. Richard Flapper - 7 years ago

    I’ve seen the 48 hours issue once on my 6s plus and never again. TouchID in iOS9.x (1 included) is that fast that the very concept of a lock screen is a distant memory.

  19. David Nelms (@Yogi44) - 7 years ago

    Affecting me as well. I went the route of deleting the fingerprint and redoing it. Took forever due to it not reading well. Still is erratic in working.

  20. theoddshipp - 7 years ago

    I am affected as well. Sometimes it gets so bad I have to delete and redo all my fingers in Touch ID. Also it seems to only affect the unlock, it works in 3rd party apps (like Amazon and LastPass) and even in the App Store. I have done restores and hard resets as well. Nothing seems to fix it and is totally random for when it happens.

  21. cameroncovington - 7 years ago

    I’m having to type my passcode every once in a while because of the 48 hour bug, but Touch ID is still fast and reliable the rest of the time for me.

  22. julianlengfelder - 7 years ago

    I find myself tipping in the passcode way too often because of a unreliable Touch ID on the 6s plus. Never had this issue in the initial iOS 9 release. Only after updating to 9.1.

  23. rnc - 7 years ago

    No problem on iPhone 6, iPad Air 2 and iPhone 5S

  24. bhayes444 - 7 years ago

    Yeah occasionally my Touch ID sensor seems to not be working when unlocking the phone. Turning the screen off and then back on fixed the issue, but still a bit annoying.

  25. Howie Isaacks - 7 years ago

    “Growing reports”? I haven’t had this issue, and no one that I know has had it either. These users should be contacting Apple rather than whining online.

    • braytonak - 7 years ago

      Apparently it really is a growing issue. I read this article yesterday, then found throughout the afternoon and evening that the keyboard would appear while Touch ID was read my fingerprint. Then, this morning, it gave me the 48 hour prompt and refused to let me in without typing my password.

      Now I wonder if my alarm will wake me reliably on Monday. Apple does have alarm issues and this seems to have started happening around a certain date.

      All text passcode. 6 Plus. iOS 9.1. Went from glitchy to “48 hour” prompts in less than 24 hours.

  26. Lee Mahi - 7 years ago

    I HATE how unreliable Touch ID has become. I’m like at a 50% success rate. I fucking hate it.

  27. Steve Crooks - 7 years ago

    Yup, me too.

  28. davidhlawrence - 7 years ago

    Yep, happening to me too. Was about to exchange the phone so I’m glad it’s a software bug. Hope they fix it soon!

  29. Michael Kraft (@Morac) - 7 years ago

    I’ve seen the 48 hour password thing on my iPad Air 2, but not my iPhone 6s Plus. My iPhone unlocks immediately with TouchId, but frequently lags and take several seconds before the home screen is usable. I’ve had that problem since I got it.

  30. OtakuMe - 7 years ago

    Guys, don’t you think that by the time 9.1 came out your home button became covered in filth? I mean just today someone came to me saying their TouchID wasn’t working and you should’ve seen the home button, it wouldn’t even reflect anymore. It took me about 2 minutes to wipe all the grease off. Finally after I finished and ended up with a piece of cloth so dirty after taking another 5 minutes to clean the screen and back of the phone that I threw it in the trash, not even bothering to watch it. But then TouchID worked fine for him.

    • davidhlawrence - 7 years ago

      Nope, that’s not the problem I’m seeing. For the first time, I’m going screen protector free with my 6S and I clean it every day. When touchID starts to flake, it doesn’t matter how clean home button is. Even creating a new fingerprint fails.

      • OtakuMe - 7 years ago

        Very strange, I have never had an issue. Well the issue I have is that my phone logs me in before I get a chance to look at the time or notifications

  31. John Smith - 7 years ago

    Yes, agreed – keeps on demanding the pass-code saying 48 hours when phone last accessed e.g. 2 hours ago.

    Yet again Apple update has bugs that should have been found before release.

    Normally I don’t apply any apple update until I’ve let other people find the bugs for a while – let this teach me for installing too soon.

  32. Nugget - 7 years ago

    I thought it was just me

  33. srgmac - 7 years ago

    I got a 5S — good ol 5S, no problems here.

  34. rrbagsmx - 7 years ago

    More than a Touch ID problem, it seems like IOS is always busy, even when is locked. I have a 4S, and since I updated to IOS 9.1 takes too long to start, as well as it drains the battery very fast.

  35. Graham J - 7 years ago

    I’ve definitely seen the 48 hours message but otherwise unlocking has been fine.

  36. gp201415 - 7 years ago

    I think I was the only one!

  37. Steve V. Kass - 7 years ago

    I gave up trying……………… useless MOST of the time….. for me. It’s easier for me to enter my code and much less of a pain-in-the-butt. I thought it was “cool” at one point, well that was 2 years ago. It’s rather silly.

  38. Harald Gaerttner - 7 years ago

    Had the 48-hour bug twice so far. Good to see it’s not only me ;-) Beside that Touch-ID still works fine for me on the iPhone 6.

  39. I have a 6 Plus and 9.1. I started having TouchID problems about 2 days ago. It hasn’t worked since then. I hope they fix it soon. It’s so much easier than the passcode.

  40. Philip Rodger - 7 years ago

    I am having this issue and so is my wife.

  41. Dennis Irlbeck - 7 years ago

    Expanding the area of your finger that will make the Touch ID more flexable as to how your finger needs to be place on the sensor.

    1) Open Settings

    2) Open Touch ID – you will have to manually enter your password for the phone

    3) Move the screen so you can see all of the fingerprints you have stored

    4) Using the one of the fingers you use to open your phone
    4a) Touch the finger you use most often, place it on the sensor you should see the FINGER 1-5 turn grey, this is an indication of the phone knowing the finger print.

    5) Repeat this but every time you see it turn gray move you finger in any direction so you are expanding the print stored in the phone.
    5a) if the finger print does NOT turn grey you may have moved to far so move you finger closer to your “normal” touch position.

    6) REPEAT #5 until you have expanded your finger print to cover all the ways you think your finger would touch the sensor when trying to unlock the iPhone.

    Why do all this? Every time you get the Fingerprint to turn GREY (quickly it will not stay grey for more then a second – this is normal) you are now expanding the stored finger print. This will make the Touch ID much more flexible in how you need to touch the ID sensor. (This is a feature that is not documented) I have not reach the limit as to how many times you can expanded your finger print. If you have additional fingers you can do the same thing with up to the 5 finger prints. When you change fingers the proper finger print number will turn grey confirming you are adding to the proper finger print file.

    This works with ALL Touch ID equipped iPhones running ANY version of iOS. You should see a change in the speed and recognition of your finger print to open your iPhone. Doing this lets you have the iPhone move to the LOCKED status as the iPhone should now open faster (less touching the sensor over and over to get the proper part of your print to open the iPhone.

    If you expand your finger print and it still does not work any more efficiently you can go back in and add to the stored print at any time. I would do this for any stored finger print on that iPhone. I do not know of any down side in doing this.

    This info was originally published in a iOS chat room.

  42. I believe my iPhone too is plagued with this issue and its so frustrating when you press your finger against the button and all you get is ‘try again’ after which you have to manually unlock the iPhone… I hope apple is listening and addresses this issue

  43. Feroz Mohammed - 7 years ago

    i have got touch id error after update ios 9.1
    still no reply from apple…..?

  44. Erik Thiessen - 7 years ago

    i am facing this issue as well. also, sometimes, when i swipe to type in my passcode, i cannot use the keyboard. it is unresponsive. therefore, i have to reboot the phone. then, it works as normal. i have a iphone 6, 64gb.

  45. I have had problems with Touch ID since the beginning of iOS 9. On iPhone 6 it worked fine under iOS 8. Now, I get the ‘try again’ message so much sometimes I just enter the pin. Other times it is very slow to respond. The worst happens at least once a day when I try to unlock it the screen remains off, and the phone remains unresponsive for several minutes. Eventually the screen will come on at low brightness and might allow me to unlock it. During this time, I can only triple press the home button to turn on/off voice over assistant. Thats the only indication that the phone is even on. All of this is very frustrating.

  46. I have an iPhone 6s 64gb and I signed up to Apple’s Public Beta program, installed their profile and the phone restarted and was fixed! I didn’t even need to download iOS 9.2!

  47. hwperkins - 7 years ago

    Having the same issue on both iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Air2. Seems it began with iOS 9.1. Both devices forget my fingerprints (multiple digits) and requires the actual passcode to get in. I’ve tried reboot, rescanning my fingers and this fix is not a long term solution, as the problem returns after a day. It’s becoming annoying and makes Apple TouchID pretty useless!

  48. Zi Song - 7 years ago

    I bought this iPhone 6 8 months ago and it was my first Apple product bought after years of being loyal Android user, when I thought I should try something new. It was pretty good for a few months until I realized it might be one of the worst choice I have ever made.
    iOS 9.1 was introduced 2 months later, and the first mistake I’ve made with the phone is trying to update it. My friend warned me previously saying that you shouldn’t try to update iOS when it just came out because there will be a lot of bugs and stuff. I still did it because the patch notes says that you can have extra few hours of battery life if you updated it. And boom, my touch ID (unlocking phone with fingerprint on home button) stopped working. I try to look for solutions myself online and found that I’m not the only one who experienced this.
    “Maybe they will fix in on the next patch, that’s how they do it right?” I told myself and decided to wait longer. And there’s the second mistake I’ve made, I brought my iPhone out of my house without a tampered glass on it. I accidentally dropped my phone during an outing with my phones and have my screen cracked. Luckily the damage is minimal and it doesn’t really bothers me.
    ( )
    Until last month, they released iOS 9.2. Here comes the patch I’ve been waiting for, like finally, then I turn to disappointment when my phone tells me that “software update fail: an error occurred downloading iOS 9.2”. What error are you talking about? I’m confused and I once again search again for solutions and I found this
    It’s from official Apple support site so it must be reliable right? So I follow the steps and try to update my phone with iTunes. And it turns out to be the biggest mistake I tried to work with my phone. “An unknown error occurred (53).” These are the last words I received and my phone was effectively dead. Every time I try to wake up my phone it just shows me a black screen with an iTunes logo on it.
    With the mysterious error code 53 I just found, I discover more and more scary stories on the web…/2048…/iTunes+Error+53+-+Please+help!
    So turns out that error code 53 is caused by hardware problem on the home button and I got unlucky with a few others around the globe, we received the batch of phones with faulty home buttons. And it amazed me that nobody actually shared anything about trying to restore it will completely kill your phone.
    Some of them got a new replacement phone with their valid warranty. But mine was rejected, “Sorry sir, your Apple warranty is invalid as your screen is cracked.” But to think about it, it was unfair to me as even if I didn’t have my screen cracked, my phone would still be dead because the main problem lies in the hardware itself, it was a ticking bomb ever since it came out of factory. “I don’t want a new phone, I don’t even want iOS 9 or the touch ID to work anymore, I just don’t want a dead phone.”
    “Sorry sir, maybe you can try get support from here:
    Thus, I’ve spoken to 4 Apple support operators so far and I’ve still have no clue on what I should do with this phone now, I’ve been redirected here and there in a loop, just like how my phone stuck in a recovery loop.
    1) Don’t update your iPhone if possible.
    2) If you have problems with your iPhone, don’t look for solutions online, not even on the official Apple support website.
    3) Always use tampered glass.
    4) Remember, this is not Android.
    ‪#‎iphone‬ ‪#‎iphone6‬ ‪#‎iOS‬ ‪#‎Android‬ ‪#‎unable‬ ‪#‎to‬ ‪#‎update‬ ‪#‎error‬ ‪#‎error53‬ ‪#‎recovery‬ ‪#‎loop‬

  49. Bill McCloud - 7 years ago

    Works fine for a day but the next day it is the same old thing…enter the passcode. I’ve tried putting the same finger in as multiple finger prints but that doesn’t seem to help.


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Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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