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The best fix for the Galaxy S8's fingerprint sensor is a thin case

As has been discussed since launch, the fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ is tough to use consistently. But that's not just because of its positioning — part of the issue is how it sits nearly flush to the back glass with very little separation from the camera lens. Combine these issues, and it can be really hard to distinguish where exactly the fingerprint sensor is without sliding your finger around a bit.

The fix for many is to switch to primarily using iris scanning or Smart Lock to limit the number of times per day you're reaching up to the sensor, but I have another fix: using a slim case to give the fingerprint sensor some physical separation. Now I'm not the biggest fan of cases, and usually only pop one on when I'm traveling or expect the phone to get bumped around a bit. But with the Galaxy S8, the case provides more than just protection — it's a fantastic way to make the fingerprint sensor usable.

More: Best Galaxy S8 cases

Galaxy S8 thin cases

I've been using both the Elago "minimalistic" case (opens in new tab), which set me back $9, and the Olixar FlexiShield case (opens in new tab), which is $10. Both aim to be extremely thin to only provide resistance to scratches rather than bumps or drops, and that's perfectly fine for me considering I really dislike bulky cases. But no matter how thin they are, they add much-needed barriers to the camera and fingerprint sensor, separating the two so you always know that you're finding the fingerprint sensor back there.

A case doesn't completely fix the problem, but makes it a whole lot better.

In using both of these cases (though I prefer the Elago case overall), I have a dramatically higher success rate with the fingerprint sensor and barely any accidental touches of the camera lens. Having this well-defined area to reach for with my index finger doesn't make the fingerprint sensor perfect by any measure — it's still far too high to reach comfortably — but at least keeps the experience from getting frustrating on a daily basis. It's all about having some consistency in using the phone.

When you're looking for a thin case that can help with the fingerprint sensor in this way, be sure to find one that actually has material between the camera lens and fingerprint sensor. Many Galaxy S8 cases offer one big cutout on the back for the camera lens, fingerprint sensor and heart rate sensor, meaning you won't get the full benefit of the case. Product images will give you a good idea of just how thick the case is and how much physical separation they provide between the camera and fingerprint sensor.

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

62 Comments
  • Best solution is to not use it. I am happy enough using the retina scanner and smart unlock.
  • I'm also using retina scanner and smart unlock which is good 98% of the time. I still use the fingerprint scanner on the odd occasions where the phone won't detect my retina correctly (usually because too much direct light) or when using Paypal.
  • I'm really glad to hear the retina scanned works well. It was 50/50 on my note 7, but windows hello on my surface 4 has always worked ridiculously well, so I've been hoping Samsung figuring things out the way Microsoft did.
  • It works the same on me as my Note 7.......which is not very well. Enough to where it's not reliable at all so I've just relied on my BT devices keeping my phone unlocked through Smart Lock. Not what I would have preferred but oh well.
  • Same here.
  • Iris scanner works well, but it's not a 100% solution. I'm up to maybe 90% success rate, but there's still plenty of situations where it just won't recognize your irises like in super bright or super dark situations. Then there are apps that need fingerprint sensor authentication ... you've got to use it at some point.
  • I use the fingerprint sensor for many apps, so that's not an option for me. But the case has made this a non-issue for me.
  • The Fingerprint scanner works great, it's fast, works every time even in pitch dark situations
    BUT it stops working as soon as you go outside and it's sunny out
    Only use it when my hands are dirty or something
    Best solution
    Put on a case and the Fps works great
  • Are you sure you are talking about the Fingerprint Scanner?
  • Check out Spigen Neo Hybrid cases on Amazon... I love this case on my S8 Plus. Very protective case and all for about $15. The buttons have an excellent feel to them. I have two other Spigen cases I've tried on mine, and I've gone back to this one. I find it very easy to find the finger print sensor with this case.
  • I have the same case and the fingerprint scanner works very well with this particular case.
  • Agree 100% with this
  • I have the same case for my S8+ and love it! I use the finger print scanner daily and have never had a problem with it's location, especially since using this case.
  • Couldn't agree more. Great case and fairly thin. Easy to scan your print with this on.
  • Have been using a great thin case I found on ebay, and agree, it provides great separtion of the FPS and the camera lens. I have no problem whatsoever using the FPS now.
  • When complaining about the fingerprint scanner, Some reviewers (not AC) are simply saying "hopefully Samsung rectifies this in the note 8" and sort of saying it's OK because of that. Like seriously most people who buy a phone for this much money will keep their phone for years.
    Samsungs terrible placement of the fingerprint scanner is something that people who bought will have to live with for years.
  • Hasn't bothered me in the slightest...
  • I have had absolutely no issues with it either. It took me a couple of days to get used to it and it seems to work just fine. I have no real idea what all the complaining is about. Not sure about the 8+ version... but the for me the s8 fingerprint scanner works just fine. I had more issues with my iPhone 7!
  • I'm 5'5" with relatively small hands and I have the s8+ and use the fingerprint scanner pretty much exclusively with zero issue. I think people just like to be babies about ever little thing... nothing is ever good enough.
  • It's actually one of the best things added to the phone, coming from another person on the smaller side. 100% better thanthe button scanner on the front.
  • Agree 100% ... By the time I get my phone out of my pocket and look at it it's already unlocked because my finger is already there when taking out my phone. Glad I'm not the only one baffled by this odd, and seemingly quite popular complaint.
  • maybe I have a thin plastic case, I don't even have to look, my thumb can feels where's the fingerprint located.
  • Apparently it's a popular complaint for a reason. It's a problem.
  • Years???
    Who keeps their phone for years anymore?????
    S8+ here and loving it!
    Note 8 as soon as it's available
    I'm using a spigen rugged armor case
    Fps works just fine
    No problems here (once you put on a case, it's a non issue)
  • If I'm spending $750-900 on a phone, you can bet I'm keeping that phone for a couple of years.
  • I think any case helps, I have the Spirgen Ultra Hybrid and it has one rectangular opening for all three (flash, camera, fingerprint sensor). You can find this opening easily by touch and know the fingerprint sensor is the right edge.
  • The samsung clear thin case is great for this. the case is so thin you really dont notice it but it has the cutout for the FP scanner. Also the violet /orchid grey case looks nice on that color phone (adds a bit more purple but not drastic) biggest issue is those cases are 20 bucks.
  • Pretty sure AC readers and AC staff are in a loud minority when it comes to disliking the location of the fingerprint sensor. I haven't really heard many people that I would consider an average consumer really complaining about it.
  • I have. My brother works at a mobile store in NYC and it's the #1 complaint by customers.
  • To anyone who doesn't use the fingerprint scanner and uses other methods such as iris scanning, do those methods work with other applications too? Such as logging into Amazon, Play Store purchases, banking apps, etc? I'm guessing not but hope I'm wrong.
  • No, Iris Scanner isn't available to non Samsung Pass usable apps, so FPS is the go to
  • Nope, fingerprint sensor is the only way to authenticate those third party apps.
  • After a month I am pretty good with using the fingerprint scanner on my S8+. I usually hold the phone with my left hand and use my right index to unlock the phone. I can also do it 1 handed but it's safer with 2.
  • I use the Samsung Clear Cover, and while it mixes the LED and camera into one window, the FPS is thankfully separated.
  • I love the fingerprint placement. I have the Spigen Neo Hybrid case and its perfect.
    When I take the phone out of my pocket its already unlock since i place my finger on the sensor while
    removing it from the pocket.
  • Yeah, its the best. All phones should have it there. SMH.
  • I've never seen anyone whine more about a feature of a phone than the AC staff on the fingerprint sensor location on the S8, seriously, it's really not that bad, stop whining about it and get over it, we can't go more than week on here without one of you moaning about it.
  • I've never seen commenters whine more about us writing about one phone than these commenters on Galaxy S8 posts.
  • It has nothing to do with the amount you cover the phone in general, although at this point AC is notorious for beating a horse far beyond the afterlife. It's more to do with the seemingly non-stop complaining about a feature that is actually pretty freaking great if you just give it a chance first before bashing it. Great response though ... Spoken like a true professional ... /s
  • It deserves the criticism. Samsung isnt blazing any trails with its placement. There is a reason no other mfg's put it there.
  • If no one else is doing it, how could it be anything less than Samsung trail blazing?
  • It was put there because the on-screen FPS wasn't ready which also canceled the dual-camera lens setup....
  • Ok, that explains why they did it. doesn't make the decision any better.
  • Trailblazing is creating a new trail for people to follow. Nobody is following this trail. It goes nowhere.
  • Yup, using the S8+ ultra thin case from Samsung
  • Picked up a Cafele case on eBay for about $6. Works just like the review says, it pretty much negates the finger print scanner problems. Also super thin for those that don't like bulky cases. http://m.ebay.com/itm/Original-CAFELE-Ultra-Thin-Slim-Cover-TPU-Case-For...
  • Another endorsement for the Spigen Neo Hybrid case for the SG8+. I had real doubts about the placement, but it's been so fast and responsive that it hasn't been a problem. The FPS also works well with my Incipio case too. I use the Incipio in the car and have attached metal plates on the back to use it with my magnetic phone holder in my car. I can reach the FPS without issue even while driving. The issues I have are with Android and Samsung each trying to control the FPS.
  • Being left handed and coming from a 6p I really don't have much of a problem with the s8 fingerprint sensor. It's not far from where the 6p sensor was so the adjustment was pretty quick. It's noticeably more accurate as well. Not saying the decision to place it next to the camera was a good idea because it wasn't but in my experience it's not nearly as bad as the internet is making it out to be.
  • The Nillkin Frosted Shield case has the separate cut-outs on the back too and is very similar to the Spigen Thin Fit but has a textured back. Available from: https://www.nillkin-case.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=... (or the US)
    http://nillkin.org/smartphones-accessories/samsung-phones-accessories/sa... (for the UK)
  • Am I the only one that hasn't has any issue at all with the fingerprint reader ? It is in an unusual place but once i got the muscle memory thing going i haven't had any issue with either hand.. maybe I am a Freak?
  • I think people are finding that out as they use the phone. Interesting that the writers are still struggling with it.
  • Nope, no issues here either. I'm not defending Samsung either, as proof, bixby is useless. But yeah I have no issue reaching it or finding it without looking on my s8+.
  • It is definitely the placement of the sensor that's the main issue, not the thickness of a case. It's a problem without a case. It's a tall device with a sensor too close to the top and off center. I can reach the one on the back of my Mate 9 with no problems and that is a much wider device. I'm used to center back sensors and the Moto "dimple", so having g to move my hand to the front of the phone to unlock it is awkward for me as well. I can unlock my phone while I'm pulling it out of my pocket. I don't even remember what the lock screen looks like.
  • I must have big hands. I don't have a single problem reaching the fingerprint sensor on my S8+. Like out of all the things that deserve this much press for sucking, why aren't we talking about he half baked idea that is bixby lol?
  • Or you could give muscle memory a chance to kick in.
  • Stop whining. While the placement isn't perhaps ideal, it really isn't hard to use and I hit the right spot each time, doesn't matter which hand I use or how I hold it. It's how I turn on the phone 99% of the time.
  • If I have to use a case in order to make a function of an expensive device tolerable, then that device is not for me.
  • For $800+ a device should be smooth, fluid and easy to use without having to resort to workarounds.
  • My brother works at a mobile store in NYC and the biometrics on the S8 are the top complaint and the reason for returns and exchanges.
  • I bet you'll find the the finger print scanner on the Note 8 underneath the camera and it will be round. If not on the front.
  • Not sure what all the fuss is about the fingerprint scanner myself. With a case (and who wouldn't use a case with this phone - it's WAY too slippery and fragile and expensive to risk it without one) I have absolutely no problem finding the scanner every time due to the cutout. I have a slim spigen case that has one large cutout for all sensors, and it feels absolutely natural to slide my finer to the edge of the cutout where the fingerprint scanner is. I actually think its about the best place it could be, feels very natural when you hold it, your finger is right there. Gotta think that a lot of the reviewers that raised this complaint never actually used it much in real life.
  • Not sure what all the fuss is about the fingerprint scanner myself. With a case (and who wouldn't use a case with this phone - it's WAY too slippery and fragile and expensive to risk it without one) I have absolutely no problem finding the scanner every time due to the cutout. I have a slim spigen case that has one large cutout for all sensors, and it feels absolutely natural to slide my finer to the edge of the cutout where the fingerprint scanner is. I actually think its about the best place it could be, feels very natural when you hold it, your finger is right there. Gotta think that a lot of the reviewers that raised this complaint never actually used it much in real life.