Entries tagged as Touch ID

iPhone 7's boot time & home button

Family portrait of the 8 generations of iPhones
Top row runs the older iOS: iPhone 3GS, 4, and 4S
Bottom row runs the latest iOS: iPhone 5, 5S, 6 Plus, 6S Plus, and 7

My iPhone collection is constantly growing. When you lay them down like this with their boxes, it provides me with a nice view of how the technology is evolving. As with all things, though, old devices simply ceases to be supported by the manufacturer. The three iPhones at the top no longer receive any major iOS version updates and are stuck in their time. The new member of this is the iPhone 4S, topping out at iOS 9.3.5. I expect iPhone 5 to join this group next year because, along with iPhone 5C, it is the last in the line of 32-bit iPhones and iOS 10 visually warns about an app that's not 64-bit.

iOS updates or not, all my devices are kept in good working condition. So I brought them out for another annual round of tests. For this year's tests, devices from iPhone 5 to 7 had iOS 10.0.1. 4S, 4, and 3GS had 9.3.5, 7.1.2, and 6.1.6, respectively. Last year, devices from iPhone 4S to 6S Plus had 9.1. Let's take a look at the boot times.

Unless it's an old device that's feeling the weight of a new OS, newer devices tend to have a quicker boot time. Strangely though, iPhone 7 does not boot up as fast as its predecessor, and this was repeatedly observed. Perhaps this is due to the tested device having a large, 256GB storage and the system taking its time to test its integrity.
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Comparing iPhones: Touch ID & Burst Mode

Ever since Apple integrated a fingerprint sensor into the iPhone's home button with 5S, unlocking the phone had been quick and painless for me. The success rate is really high, and it's basically a touch-and-go experience that is faster than even sliding to unlock. Still, Apple must have thought that this could be improved further, so now there is a 3rd generation Touch ID on my iPhone 6S Plus. How does it perform?

As the video illustrates, the speed has gotten to the point where the fingerprint recognition is virtually instantaneous. Even if my finger was resting on the home button very briefly, the lock screen would disappear. Analyzing the video, this is how long each device's Touch ID sensor took to unlock.

iPhone's Touch ID unlock speed comparison

iPhone 6S Plus is nearly twice as fast as 6 Plus, taking only 0.23 seconds. 5S's performance was measured to be 0.70 seconds here, but it sometimes does get close to (but not surpass) 6 Plus's time of 0.40 seconds.

If 5S and 6 Plus's speed were "good enough", 6S Plus is bordering on "too fast". Unless you intentionally take your finger off the home button as quick as possible after you press or just use the power button, you'll miss the chance to see or interact with the lock screen most of the time. This includes loading the camera app via sliding up the lower right corner of the lock screen. It took a lot of time of getting used to.

Meanwhile, shooting burst photos is a completely different story.
Continue reading "Comparing iPhones: Touch ID & Burst Mode"

iPhone 6 Plus Touch ID repair

"Failed - Unable to complete Touch ID setup. Please go back and try again."
Touch ID was not working anymore

After replacing the entire display assembly on my iPhone 6 Plus, everything seemed to be okay, except for one thing. The Touch ID sensor was not working for some reason, and it wouldn't respond to my fingerprint touches. The home button itself was working, and I could press it to go back to the home screen or call up the multitasking view.

When I went to the Settings app, Touch ID option was disabled. When I tried to re-enable it, the process immediately failed, showing the above on the screen. Also, the Reachability function that brings the screen area down half way did not work, either. This relied on lightly touching the home button quickly twice, so it must have been recognizing the fingerprint to function.

The bottom connector on the Touch ID cable wasn't in good condition

I remembered that the Touch ID cable on the display assembly's shield plate got weak while applying heat to loosen the adhesive. Thinking that maybe the connector was damaged, I ordered some replacement shield plates with the Touch ID cable on them.
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iPhone 6 Plus - General Performance

iPhone 5S and 6 Plus running 3DMark

iPhones and iPads have generally gotten big boost in speed with every new generation thanks to the enhancements in their processing units. But with iPhone 6 series, Apple decided to temper the pace. Instead of something like 2x boost, the CPU was to be up to 25% faster and GPU, 50%. This should just cover the boost in resolution, so I suppose Apple felt that the iPhone 5S was already fast enough in terms of user experience.

Indeed, with both iPhone 5S and 6 Plus running iOS 8.0 (and recently, 8.0.2), the general "feeling" of the speed was nearly the same, both mostly quick. It was just that iPhone 6 Plus happened to display the contents on a larger screen. Also, the amount of RAM staying at 1GB didn't have any noticeable impacts. On both phones, apps do run fine, although running RAM-heavy processes (notably Camera and Safari) tends to gracefully quit the other app in the background. The stopped app restarts quick enough when switched back.

To gauge some solid numbers, though, I did run through the usual batches of tests. All tests were run with iOS 8.0.2 and with same installed apps and settings.

First off, the boot time was measured. This is from when the screen turns on with the Apple logo to when the lock screen is loaded. iPhone 5S clocked in at 38.0 seconds, while iPhone 6 Plus was a bit faster at 30.6 seconds. The 5S got a bit slower than with iOS 7 installed.
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Biometric scans of iPhone 5S

Unlocking the lock screen of iPhone 5S with the finger
Click, then keep the finger on the home button for an instant unlock

Apple acquired AuthenTec back in 2012, and a lot of rumours circulated about the possibility of iPhones using fingerprint sensors created by this company. Come 2013, this has come true in the form of an integrated fingerprint sensor called Touch ID on the home button of iPhone 5S. In the process, the iconic rounded square marking in the button was sacrificed in the name of progress. The physical button is still clickable as always. The sensor works only when you leave your finger on the button without clicking.

Many experts view biometric authentication such as fingerprint scanning as a good way to "augment" security. It is by no means a complete replacement for existing measures because you can't change your biometric characteristics, and the detection can be fooled with sufficient resources and will. So it's generally recommended that this is used in conjuction with another authentication method such as ID & password. That said, Apple has decided that it's good enough to be used as an alternate method of entering passcode for unlocking lock screens.

This doesn't sound good from strict security standpoint because the biometrics are used to "replace" rather than "augment". However, Apple's rationale is that a large number of people don't even set passcodes, and by providing this alternative in a convenient package, phones would be somewhat secure, than not secure at all. Then, the convenience angle must be sufficiently strong to gain traction.

Using this feature for some time, I can say that this would indeed be the case. Read on to see my demonstration.
Continue reading "Biometric scans of iPhone 5S"

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