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Android fingerprint sensors, ranked

It's pretty easy to see that 2015 was the year that Android phones started getting some really great fingerprint sensors, with several different manufacturers either getting into the game for the first time with great offerings or iterating on old designs to get something that's more consistent and easier to use.

Huawei, Samsung, LG, OnePlus and HTC — just to name a few — have all gotten into simple one-touch fingerprint sensors on at least one of their phones, and now that you have several options we figured it's a great time to rank them all.

Implementation, feel, reliability, software and security all factor into making a good fingerprint scanner on a phone, and we're going to tell you which do it best, and which may need a little more work for the next generation.

The top Android fingerprint sensors, ranked

Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X

Nexus 5X and 6P

These are the first Nexus phones with fingerprint sensors, and Google absolutely hit it out of the park on the first try. Though the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X are manufactured by different companies (Huawei and LG, respectively) they both have the same fingerprint sensor, mounted on the back of the phone. It sounds weird at first, but that's exactly where your index finger lands when you pick up the phone, and when it does your phone will instantly turn on and unlock. The sensors are super accurate, and as you use them the phone's software gets better at recognizing each finger you have registered.

Beyond just having a great sensor and software for recognizing your finger, the latest Nexuses are top of our list for their integration with Android's new fingerprint APIs in Marshmallow. As developers integrate these standard hooks into their apps for higher security, the Nexuses will be ready to go to let you authenticate payments, log into secure areas and fill in passwords with just a touch of your finger. That means developers don't have to target each phone individually, and the future for fingerprint-secured apps looks bright.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and S6 edge+

Galaxy Note 5 and S6 edge+

After using clunky swipe-style fingerprint scanners on the Galaxy S5 and Note 4, Samsung stepped up its game to a new one-touch fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy S6 and subsequently Galaxy Note 5 and S6 edge+. The new sensor is still embedded in the home button, and it works fantastically with either your thumb when holding the phone in your hand, or with an index finger when it's laying flat on a table. Success rate seems to be good for most people, and you can train up multiple fingers to be recognized.

Samsung's implementation requires the phone's screen to be on for the sensor to be active, so you have to take the extra step of pressing the power or home button before scanning. Unfortunately the implementation is a tad clunky on the lock screen if you need to fail back to a non-fingerprint authentication, as your only backup option is a long password, not a PIN or pattern like on other phones.

Unlike the new Nexuses, Samsung (out of necessity, having started this back in the KitKat era) has its own fingerprint APIs for developers to integrate with to specifically target its phones — from the Galaxy S5 up to the Galaxy Note 5 and S6 edge+. Because these APIs have been available for some time and Samsung has sold hundreds of millions of phones with these sensors in place there are a good number of developers who have specifically integrated with Samsung's fingerprint API, but it also means that new apps being built with the new Marshmallow fingerprint APIs just won't work with these Samsung phones — and we don't even know if they'll work once Samsung rolls out its Marshmallow updates.

Huawei Mate S

Huawei Mate S

It's no surprise that Huawei, which made the Nexus 6P, managed to have a great one-touch fingerprint sensor on a previous device, the Mate S. Just like the 6P the sensor is on the back of the phone, right where your finger rests, and much in the same way it can turn on and unlock your phone all with one tap and no further interaction with the screen or buttons. As we noted before, that's the best way to get it done.

Though the sensor itself is right on par with the Nexus 6P in quality and finger recognition, the Mate S is a step below the Note 5 and S6 edge+ because it lacks lots of apps that support it. Right now you can basically just use the Mate S fingerprint sensor to unlock the phone, and there's really not much prospect of app developers targeting it specifically. We don't yet know if Huawei's implementation of Marshmallow will incorporate the standard fingerprint APIs, but given the lessons learned from the Nexus 6P we wouldn't be surprised if it did.

Read our full Huawei Mate S review

OnePlus 2

OnePlus 2

The OnePlus 2 sort of splits the difference on our previous picks, going with a one-touch fingerprint sensor that can turn on and unlock the phone, but putting it below the screen as Samsung does. The sensor is a bit smaller than the others but seems just as accurate, and if you choose to set it up it can also be used as a capacitive home button if you'd like.

The software story backing up the OnePlus 2 is much the same as the other non-Nexus phones here — right now the fingerprint sensor is basically just used to unlock the phone, and until Marshmallow hits we won't see it integrate with the operating system-level fingerprint APIs. OnePlus has its Marshmallow update set to come out in the first quarter of 2016, and we'll know for sure then — but based on how it handles OxygenOS we'd expect full compliance with Marshmallow's new APIs.

LG V10

LG V10 fingerprint sensor

LG has also gone with a fingerprint sensor on the back of its phone, but unlike the Mate S and new Nexuses, it's integrated into the back-mounted power button on the phone. Because of this, the V10 requires you to first press the physical button to turn the screen on, and then keep your finger placed on the button to activate your fingerprint. It's that extra step that makes things a little more difficult — even before you factor in some issues with the secondary screen messing things up — and that's why it's further down the list.

Just like Samsung, LG uses a proprietary fingerprint API for developers to hook into if they want to use the V10's scanner for authentication in their apps. Unfortunately LG hasn't been at this as long as Samsung, so far fewer developers are on board with the new API — at this point all you can really use it for is unlocking the phone itself and protecting some content on the phone in LG's built-in apps. We aren't sure at this point if LG includes the new standard fingerprint APIs in its Marshmallow update, but that'd be the best choice for LG if it can get it done.

Your favorite?

Which one of the fingerprint sensors out there is your favorite? Clearly there are several different great options, and we can't list every phone with a fingerprint sensor in one article. Fingerprint sensor quality may vary depending on how you use your phone and just how your fingers end up working with it as well, so we want to know which you prefer — whether it's on this list or not. Let us know in the comments below!

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

  • Sony Z5 Premium best out there!
  • N5X and 6P are way faster than Z5, I saw a comparison and Z5 take more time unlocking the phone, and 5X and 6P go ahead to the main screen
  • Have both, Nexus 6P & Z5 Premium - the Nexus is way fast!!
  • I heard from Pocketnow that the Z5 Premium's isn't that good though... Posted via Nexus 6P
  • N6P removed from the comparison & I agree.
  • Can't say on the z5. But my 6p hits every time Posted via a nexus
  • 6P nails it!
  • Yep mine does too! Seriously the best phone I've had. Coming from a note 4 Posted via the Android Central App
  • I agree, by far the best smartphone I've used thus far. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I 2nd that too. Coming from the G3 and Nexus 6P has just been so butterly smooth.
  • SONY are so crappy can't even match up with Chinese phone
  • Sony is from Japan
  • He meant Sony can't even match up with a Chinese phone (which is Huawei). Reading comprehension huh?
  • Yup... 6P can read my fingerprint sideway and even upside down.
  • Quality? 5X and 6P. Placement? Always been a fan of the side/top buttons so Z5
  • How does the Z5 rank? I like the side placement, but several reviews I have seen said the accuracy wasn't there.
  • kind of an awkward placement and it makes the power button tougher to press. that, and Sony doesn't really seem inclined to sell the Z5 anywhere ... means it doesn't make it on the list. Of course there are TONS of other phones out there with fingerprint sensors — we can't fit them all into one list. That's why we open it up to the comments to recommend their favorite :)
  • "Sony doesn't really seem inclined to sell the Z5 anywhere" I see them for sale everywhere here in Europe. It's not our fault you're in the wrong Continent ;P
  • I say the same thing to Alex and Richard when they complain about not having the Note 5 available :P
  • Ouch.... I had to get the edge plus because the note 5 couldn't be found anywhere in Europe :P Posted via the Android Central App
  • In regards to Sony not wanting to sell them, then why does one plus make the list? lol. This should be a purely objective list. Not based on region of sales, to let us users know which android devices have the best finger print scanner. Now if you are saying its not deserving on the list because it sucks, thats a different story.
  • I really like how you managed to not answer the one question that was asked, while listing a bunch of reasons that were, from the question, irrelevant.
  • 6p is way accurate Posted via a nexus
  • The Nexus 6P (and assuming 5P) are hands down the best I've ever used. It's so quick and I've yet to have it not work the first time. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It's also very easy to re-identify your finger(s) if you feel it's not moving quick enough to your liking. The Nexus Imprint is easily my favorite feature on the 6P.
  • My a9 fingerprint scanner is fast and accurate. Why was it left off I wonder? Posted via the HTC One A9
  • Have to cut off the list at some point. there are dozens of phones with fingerprint sensors, most of them are quite good even. That's why we open it up and ask everyone for their input in the comments!
  • Yeah I'm with you. Why? Only if these writers have not got a chance to use the A9. I owned a s6 and it sucks compared to the A9. HTC a9 is absolutely amazing and the fastest today or tied for first with reading your print. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah the a9 scanner has to be up there it's a lot better then Samsung's implementation. But again I feel like the a9 is underrated in general lol Posted via the HTC One A9
  • Same thoughts here. Curious the A9 want included. Seems more accurate than the Samsung scanner and is the only noon nexus phone using marshmallow APIs. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I can't comment on any of the s6 models but my A9 is way better than the s5 could ever be. Haven't had a problem with it at all other than not working with PayPal but that isn't do the scanner.
  • 6p is as good as the iPhone 6s.. Almost better Posted via the Android Central App
  • it IS better .. no mechanical moving parts Posted via the Android Central App
  • I couldn't care less about fingerprint scanners and even when a future phone I buy comes with one, I will not be using it. That said, to me, the best thought implementation is on the Xperia Z5 series. Because it's the only one that's placed on a natural spot: the power button. And yes, I know the V10 is too, but as a user of the G4, I can say that I almost never use the power button given that I can double tap to wake and turn off the phone. And that's the thing. I'm not sacrificing double-tap to wake for a fingerprint scanner.
  • how is the placement of the nexus versions' not natural? do you not hold your phone like, i believe, everyone else in the world? Posted via the Android Central App
  • For Samsungs, the home button is the power button. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Are you serious? So in your world, Samsung phones have only the home button. Yeah right.
  • What he/she probably meant to write:
    For Samsungs, the home button is also a power button. Just click and it unlocks. No need to use the power button, unless you just want to check time, notifications, etc.
  • "I couldn't care less about fingerprint scanners and even when a future phone I buy comes with one, I will not be using it." Yup, same here! Have one on my Note 4, but have never used it. Not interested in using "something I am" (and can't be changed) as a single security method.
  • I haven't used it yet, but the 6P certainly looks promising after reading reviews and seeing videos. Samsung's implementation on the Note 5 is an improvement over the S6. The S6 just got to be unreliable as time went by. On the V10, it's just a hit and miss. Sometimes it will register it and other times I have to try multiple times to unlock it. I usually find knock code to be quicker than attempting to use the fingerprint reader. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I noticed a little bit of this too, so I deleted my prints and redid the process making sure to have it read my finger in a variety of finger placements that I find myself hitting the sensor with and it is much more accurate since then.
  • Thanks for the tip! I'll give it a try Posted via the Android Central App
  • I was having that problem then I just started double tapping with my finger on the sensor. It works almost all the time now.
  • Having it on the back would be completely useless for me as my phone sits on my desk while at work, and having to pick it up to unlock it is significantly more difficult than just reaching over and touching the home button on my Note 5 Posted via the Android Central App on my Nexus 7
  • You can use trusted places when you are at work. Everyone forgets this. Posted via Nexus 6 running on any data plan I want
  • What about everywhere else you may have your phone laying on a table? Note in my house!
  • I don't know about you but I'd rather not have my phone unlocked around sneaky co-workers even if I am right next to it most of the time.
  • Sneaky co-workers, where do you work? Posted via Nexus 6 running on any data plan I want
  • Haha! I don't actually have any sneaky co-workers but I know quite a few people who do. Not the snoopy type but the prankster type.
  • I haven't forgotten about it, just prefer not to use it. Posted via the Android Central App using my Note 5
  • Completely AGREE. That is an immediate dealbreaker for me. Trusted places is not an option outside of home. What if I'm using it in a public area at my work (it's a BIG place with wifi)? What if I'm at a coffee shop or any other public place? I'm not picking it up every time, and I'm not leaving it unlocked when I'm using it in public areas.
  • Resident noob and designer tin foil hat wearer... So do these fingerprint API's store the imprint locally and just present tokens to the various app requests? Or are the fingerprints copied to the cloud? If stored locally, can you use it exclusively for log in authentication for apps (Amazon, Google play etc) and not screen lock? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yes, you are correct to worry. There are a lot of security issues with these devices.
  • Google, htc, LG, Huawei and almost every other android phone with a fingerprint scanner (not Samsung) uses sensors from a Swedish company called Fingerprint Cards, and in their case the fingerprint is not shared or stored in the cloud. It's stored in the sensor itself.
  • Love the fingerprint scanner on my S6, works every time. Having said that I've never used another scanner before apart from the S6 edge+. Posted via the Android Central App
  • 5X is perfect! Posted via my Nexus 5X & T-Mobile Unlimited
  • Meanwhile, I don't have a device with a fingerprint sensor.
  • Is it possible to divide the 5X and 6P a bit? With the sensor being identical, is size the biggest differentiator? Does one come off as being more comfortable or natural over the other?
  • The sensors are not identical, the author needs to look at ifixit... The 6P has a square Huawei sensor while the 5X has a true circular one. The 6Ps sensor is 'cfopped' by the phone to be a circle. I've used both and the 6P's size feels much more natural
  • I was JUST thinking about the ifixit article when reading this, but tippy beet me to it! Lol! It is always interesting when info is not quite accurate. I have the V10 and the Note5, both work fine but the Note5 is far superior to anything else I have tried including the Note 4. The issue I have with the V10 is that the button always feels wobbly which effects comfort while in use. And I do agree that it is a hit and miss, I learned from the S5, Note 4 etc. That you should always program your fingerprint in the same way you are going to use it, that seems to give a better result -jmho
  • I have the Note 4 currently and it's a bit clunky when it comes to the fingerprint scanner. Posted via the Android Central App
  • LOL! What a retarded article. xD
  • Having previously used both the iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy S6 Edge, and now the Nexus 6P, I have to the 6P wins hands down. It's fast, accurate, and I don't need to physically press down on any button. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Soft press on the iPhone is used for apple pay. I agree a soft press feels more natural and in fact my first instinct forr the firrstt 3 days after getting the ip6s was a soft press to unlock (even after hard pressing for the last six years) but I understand why they made the the concession... To make apple pay faster and easier ...andr wwhy is my keeyyboaqrrde frucking retardede likee thiis? Ttook 10 minutes too wrriittee thuat 1 paragrqaphu witth all the edittiing. Somtiimes I can't stand anderriooiid!!!! Uhhhhhuh!!! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Samsung S6's fingerprint scanner is amazing. Work everything perfectly Posted via the Android Central App
  • YOU wait till you see the new type of scanners in action. It will blow your mind if you were amazed by the s6 Posted via the Android Central App
  • How do you miss the z5? Best placement of the sensor by far
  • N6p
  • Huaweis and their use of scanner is awesome. Have been really good since mate 7. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I have a 6P and a Note 5. The Nexus is the hands-down winner.
  • Just thinking.....I think it would have been cool if they would've implemented a "halo" style notification light into the inner rim of the fingerprint sensor on the 6p and 5x. Just a thought Posted via the Android Central App
  • Definitely both nexus phones. Will get 6p.
  • LG Flex 2 (5.1.1)
  • The s6 edge scanner is a trainwreck- one of my biggest gripes with the phone other than the edge itself .
  • I see, no love for the Galaxy S6/S6E. Once the Note 5 and the 6+ came out, it's like everyone forgot about the Galaxy S6/S6E. I have the Galaxy S6 Edge, and I have absolutely no issues with the fingerprint reader on my phone. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Dude... They're the same phone as the Note 5 and S6 +. Everything is the same except the Note 5 has a pen. Just bigger. Quit complaining. - I'm the guy at the bar turning the TV with his phone during your favorite sports game. -
  • I love the fingerprint sensor in the Nexus 5X. It recognizes my fingerprint 98% of the time, and it is wicked fast. Almost as fast as my boyfriend's iPhone 6S Plus. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I like using trusted devices a lot more. It's faster. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Z5 is great...i don't see why people have an issue with the button placement or the way it works.
  • The A9 fingerprint scanner is fast & well... Just works the way you would expect a fingerprint scanner to work Posted via the Android Central App
  • note 5 Posted via the Android Central App
  • Hey Andrew, there is no need to "wake" Samsungs phones. Just hold down the home button, and it will unlock and turn on the screen at the same time.
  • I was waiting to see if anyone else was going to say this. I found out this feature or process after reading about other sites bragging about how I think the Nexus phones could unlock on touch alone. This is basically the same function but holding down the home button and unlocking. No extra steps needed. Thumbs up to you.
  • The Z5 premium unlocks fine. I've only ever had a miss when I forgot which finger I had registered :) Pressing the power button to turn the phone on also unlocks it, plenty fast enough for me. If the phone's on it the dock, I can just rest my finger on the button and it unlocks fine, Orientation doesn't seem to matter too much. That's why when you register fingerprints it tells you to move your finger around a bit. When I pick the phone up, my fingers are wrapped around the right side, not on the back. Natural place to have the unlock is on the side button. The LGV10 is the one that makes sense, having the power button on the back as well.
  • If the N5X specs were better, I might almost consider it. I don't do phablets/MCCDs/Notes/paperbacks, so the 6P is never an option. Of course, I would need the Supreme Court to reverse their ruling on finger print readers and the 8th amendment (I think) before I ever started using it Posted via the Android Central App
  • I don't know how the Note5 got #2, that fingerprint scanner is seriously awful. It works maybe 75% of the time, pretty much every time I go and use it I have to try again. Compare that to my Nexus 6P which unlocks much faster, and works the first time 98% of the time. The placement is much better too, with the home button forcing my to awkwardly place my hand in a position that's unnatural and feels like the phone will fall.
  • Probably a faulty device or maybe delete all your print and start again. IJS......
  • Absolutely 100% of the time for me, even at unusual angles. A couple times I thought it failed - before I realized I was using my third finger instead of my index. To me, it's finally a transparent, complete feature. Perhaps you should try re-entering your fingerprints. When adding a finger, it's important to move the placement of your finger with each repetition so that it ends up mapping the entire pad of your finger/thumb that you will be using. I also varied the angle some, but that didn't seem to be important. It still unlocks even if I touch at a 90-degree angle.
  • S6 edge is good Posted by the Gold Platinum Galaxy S6 Edge via the Android Central App
  • Where is the HTC A9??? one of the best scanners i've used (i'll rank it just behind the 6p)
  • First thing I would point out is that those that wake from the print itself and no power button need to be running that sensor at all times. Question here is will this kill the idea of marshmallow's doze? If this is a possibility then the best would be a button that you push and your finger is already there and reads everything. Just like the V10 does. PayPal already has the api written to use LG's fingerprint, it's new so give then time to implement the built in api for marshmallow.
    You say 5 I say 1
  • Worse fingerprint place ever... Try to use your phone docked in your car, on your bike and on your arm band when running... You will understand quickly. Posted via the Android Central App
  • My 6P let me capture my left index finger when I got it. It was failing a lot of the time when trying to unlock, so I deleted that fingerprint and tried to capture it again. And it can't. It continually fails with "Enrollment was not completed". I'm able to capture other fingers without much problem. I was also able to capture the left forefinger on my wife's iPhone 6S without a problem. My left forefinger may be a bit screwy... It does have a scar near one side. BUT... (1) Why was the 6P able to capture that finger when I first got it, but not now; and (2) Why does my wife's 6S have no problems with it? I called Google support and they suggested I exchange the phone. But I've spent hours setting up my 6P how I want it, and redoing all that is such a hassle. I guess I could root and use Titanium to backup then root and restore the new phone, but I'm unsure if this voids the warranty or if Good for Enterprise will detect that it's rooted and refuse to work, like it did when I rooted my LG G2. Not sure what to do. My current best idea is to try finding a 6P in a store and see if it behaves the same. Not sure if there are an 6Ps around... Lucky me.
  • I think the November system update may have gotten installed on my 6P after I initially recorded the left forefinger, which I guess could account for why I'm seeing a change in behavior. And maybe the iPhone 6S is just better at picking up the type of weirdness that finger presents...?
  • What, no mention of the Motorola Atrix 4G? That phone had the fingerprint reader in 2011, that's even before iApple invented it! Of course had Motorola not completely borked that phone (which was the first with a dual core CPU, and the first with a fingerprint reader) and immediately ignored it 6 months after release it wouldn't be a completely forgotten footnote in smartphone history. ... No, I'm not still bitter about what Motorola did to my phone, even after I gave them lots of money for those accessories (the failed docking station/laptop thing, etc.) why do you ask?
  • lol! I had one too and loved it! No accessories thou. I even had the atrix 2 for a few days before returning it. Was a solid phone from what I remember. I wonder if moto blur account is still active?
  • I have the Galaxy S6 Edge and use the finger print feature as my security lock. Now it would well to a point, though there still room for improvement. Mine only work 2 out 5 time one the first try.
  • Fingerprint reader on the back is a huge fail. How do I unlock the phone when it's in a cradle? In the car for example. I 100% prefer to have it on the front. Works great on my Galaxy S6. With the screen off you just press the home button to have it wake the screen and unlock at the same time.
  • Agree, front is perfect. I can unlock it lying on a table without picking it up. I can unlock it while holding the phone normally in one hand, with the same hand or the off-hand, simultaneous with clicking the home/wake button. Perfect.
  • Hey, where is the Moto Atrix? lol! Now we just need some apps to utilize this feature with new API's in Marshmallow! Yes, unlocking is cool, but now give us apps that use it.
  • Love my 6P and its fingerprint censor. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I've used fingerprint scanner on Galaxy and Note phones, iPhones and Nexus 6p.. if I've to rate accuracy and reliability between Note 5 and Nexus 6p then its definitely Nexu 6p. Note 5 finger print was annoying for me that I left using it.. but my favorite one is iPhone 6s sensor.. freaking fast...
  • I can only confirm from youtube that Nexus is faster than the rest.
  • Loving my note 5 fingerprint scanner Posted via the Android Central App
  • Using both the Nexus 5x and HTC A9 at the moment. The 5x is decent but having the fingerprint scanner at the back is not ideal at all. It is VERY annoying to have to pick it up to unlock when it is on my desk.
    With the HTC A9, I can unlock, reply to a text, send an email without lifting the phone. The scanner also serves as a home button so I can just tap it to get to the lockscreen and see my notifications. If I'm done, double tap to shut it off. These are the little things that increase user experience. I would keep the A9 if HTC wasn't such a tragic company. As regards speed, the HTC A9 is every bit as fast as the Nexus 5x. It's only a hair slower because it goes to the lockscreen for a split second before unlocking. This minuscule difference in speed is inconsequential in everyday use.
  • Honor 7 fingerprint sensor is awesome and fast
  • HTC one A9 , do a head to head on the fastest and i bet it come out on top
  • Why was the Sony Z5 series omitted from this article? Also HTC A9. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Galaxy Alpha is the best Smartphone....
  • @Andrew Martonik there is no EXTRA step on a samsung phone. You press and hold - and it unlocks. ONE step.
  • I think at the end of the day, a fingerprint scanner has to alter behavior. Generally, users pick their phone up (or not), and unlock it by bringing the screen on first and then then simply swiping/using password/PIN/pattern. Personally, I have hated this all along and never used a password.
    That's changed completely with my Nexus 6P. The FPS is superb, it unlocks super fast each time. Yes, it's a little annoying when on the table, but I think overall, it's the best out there atm. Also, reduces the wear and tear of the power button, which invariably at some point screws up on my phones and needs replacement.
    Haven't seen the HTC phone in action, but seen the OP2 and S6 FPS in action, and they seem decent, although not at the Nexus level.
  • I like Huawei's implementation of fingerprint sensor in Honor 7, Mate S & my upcoming new monster: Mate 8.
  • hi does huawei GR3 support fingerprint sensor?
  • Nexus 5x and 6p are the best in terms of accuracy and speed.
  • the fingerprint on One Plus 3 is the fastest i have come ever. They are the best in terms of accuracy and speed