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iPhone 5's fingerprint reader won't work with a severed finger

Categories: Science & Technology

mi-iphone-5s-04988778.jpgPhil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, speaks on stage during the introduction of the new iPhone 5s in Cupertino, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 10.

Good news for anyone fearful of being mugged for their shiny brand new iPhone 5S: you probably won't get your finger cut off in the process.

Talk of the fingerprint reader, the most touted new feature of Apple's latest iPhone, inevitably turned to explainers about how it worked. The technology used for the device is called biometrics, and uses your fingerprint as a sort of one-person, immutable password.

Except for some business-class laptops, where corporate-level security is valued, and some smartphones including Motorola's Atrix phone from 2011, fingerprint readers haven't exactly hit the mainstream in the way that nearly anything promoted by Apple will do.

But if your fingerprint is the key to the iPhone, someone probably said, what happens if you catch the attention of a violent mugger? In addition to getting your brand new phone stolen, will you suffer the indignity of getting your fingertip chopped off to be used as a morbid, decomposing keycard?

The answer, as it turns out is no.

According to Mashable, the iPhone 5S's fingerprint sensor detects the sub-epidermal layers of your skin. Translation: it won't work unless the finger used is also attached to a living human being.

"The [RF capacitive sensor] technology is built in a way that the [fingerprint] image has to be taken from a live finger," Sebastien Taveau, an expert on fingerprint technology told Mashable.

Apple fans who remain fearful might want to skip out on the iPhone 5S and get a grip on the less expensive iPhone 5C, which doesn't include a fingerprint reader.

Or, you know, just hold onto the phone they're using right now.

Tags: Technology

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