This stupid hack makes temperamental phone fingerprint sensors work much better

OnePlus Nord N10 5G
(Image credit: Future)

I've used enough cheap phones with temperamental fingerprint scanners, to know that they can be a real problem. There's something uniquely frustrating about repeatedly placing and lifting your finger that makes you wonder why you even set a phone lock.

This happens frequently for rear-mounted fingerprint scanners, but I've had the worst results with side-mounted ones, and despite the placement being incredibly convenient, I now get an ominous sense of dread when I start using a budget phone with one.

This is what I had with the Realme C35, and I thought I was in for another season of repeated thumb-taps every time I wanted to check the 'Gram - until I accidentally stumbled upon a solution so beautifully stupid that I've no idea why I never did it before.

The double thumb

Realme C35

(Image credit: Future)

I accidentally set up my fingerprint on the Realme C35 twice. After the first time, the fingerprint scanner wasn't working well, so I presumed I hadn't actually set it up at all, and went through the whole process again. Afterwards, it worked beautifully.

Most phones let you set up multiple fingerprints, in case you alternate hands, or trust a loved one with all your intimate phone details. In theory, though, you're not able to set up the same finger twice - the phone will let you know you've already done it.

However - and this is the beautiful part - if your phone's fingerprint scanner isn't recognizing your fingerprint when you've already registered it, then it's not going to clock that you're setting up the same fingerprint multiple times. 

This is something I discovered accidentally when I re-set-up my fingerprint, and now I can get into the phone really well. I've even done it for other phones since - it doesn't always work, but when it doesn't, it's because the fingerprint scanner is good enough that I don't need to.

If you want to try this yourself, head to your phone's settings menu, then go into the Passwords and security section, and set up your fingerprint unlock from here. If your phone initially says you're trying to register the same print, just rotate your finger until it works. And if this doesn't happen, clearly the phone is working just fine.

Oh, and make sure your finger is clean and dry, both when you're registering your finger and when you're trying to unlock the phone - depending on the sensor, this can sometimes make it impossible for the phone to scan your finger properly.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.