Mar 18th, 2016

Don’t look now, but an update that’s meant to be making your device better seems to be making it a lot worse. A bundle of Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X users are reporting that the fingerprint scanners on their phones are starting to act wonky after receiving the March security update issued by Google.

Derek Ross initially brought the issue up on Google+, after which many chimed in to note they were experiecing the same issues (including other folks’ own Google+ posts, and on Reddit). What happens is the fingerprint scanner can become unresponsive as if the device doesn’t even know there’s a fingerprint scanner there, as opposed to simply acting slow or being inaccurate to read (as there is no feedback whatsoever — verbally or through haptics — saying the reading has failed).

Nexus_Imprint_Huawei_Nexus_6P

The issue seems to come and go at random with no rhyme or reason. On the other hand, others don’t seem to be experiencing it at all.

While we aren’t yet sure whether Google is aware of the issue and working on a fix (one user claims a support rep said they are, but we can’t confirm it ourselves just yet) there may be a couple of things you can try to rectify the issue, as others have reported them to be successful:

  • One short, quick fix if the fingerprint isn’t working is to simply unlock your device with your passcode, then relock the device. People have reported that this will bring the functionality back like normal the next time you go to use the device, but note that it’s just as likely it’ll resurface at some point.
  • Other people have mentioned that disabling Doze Mode could rectify the issue completely. If true, it could seem to indicate there’s some sort of issue with the way Android Marshmallow’s battery optimization affects the fingerprint scanner or its drivers (but, of course, we can’t say that for sure without deep analysis or word from Google). You’ll have to sacrifice some battery life with this fix, of course, so it’s up to you to decide whether that’s more important than fingerprint functionality.

We’ll be reaching out to Google to see if this is a known issue on their end and whether a fix is on the way. In the meantine, let us know if you’re seeing these issues on your Nexus 5X or Nexus 6P, and whether you’ve successfully been able to eradicate the issue with the tips above or anything else you’ve tried.

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