A bug in Samsung's Galaxy S10 lets anyone unlock the phone with any fingerprint

Galaxy S10

Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Samsung says it will "soon" release a patch to fix the flaw.

  • Samsung has acknowledged the existence of a flaw in its Galaxy S10 smartphones that lets anyone unlock them with their thumbprint.
  • According to The Sun newspaper, the British woman who first spotted the flaw said her husband was able to unlock her S10 with his thumbprint, simply by adding a cheap screen protector.
  • Samsung described The Galaxy S10's built-in fingerprint recognition tech as "revolutionary" when it launched in March 2019.
  • The Korean tech giant says it will "soon issue" a software patch to fix the flaw, BBC News reported.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Samsung has acknowledged the existence of a flaw in its Galaxy S10 smartphones that seems to let anyone's thumbprint unlock them if there is a screen protector applied.

The Sun newspaper reports that the flaw was first spotted by a British woman, Lisa Neilson, after she applied a £2.70 ($3.45) screen protector to her phone. With the protector on, Neilson found she could use her left thumb to unlock the phone - despite it ostensibly being set up to recognise only her right thumb.Advertisement

Neilson then realised that seemingly any thumbprint could unlock the phone, provided the protector was applied to it, including her husband's thumbprints. She spotted the same flaw when placing the screen protector over her sister's own Galaxy S10 phone.

Samsung did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment, but BBC News reports that Samsung said it was "aware of the case of S10's malfunctioning fingerprint recognition and will soon issue a software patch."

Samsung's Galaxy S10 phone series - the regular version of which costs $900 - was unveiled to to much fanfare in February 2019 and released in March. Samsung itself heralded the phone's fingerprint recognition technology as "revolutionary."

It's not clear how widespread the issue is; Mike Murphy, a reporter for Quartz, wrote on Twitter that in his own tests he had been unable to replicate the problem.

Read more: Samsung's wildly ambitious $2,000 folding phone that was breaking on people after days of use is finally set to arrive in September - here's the whole saga so far
note 7 melted

Baidu/Mr. Ni66666

Back in 2016, Samsung's Note 7 became notorious for bursting into flames.


Samsung's high-end smartphones have had a patchy track record on hardware issues.

Early users and reviewers of Samsung's $2,000 Galaxy Fold phone in April 2019 reported that their units were breaking after just two days of use, forcing the company to cancel the launch at the last minute and retool the devices.

And in 2016, battery malfunctions in Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 smartphones caused many of the devices to overheat, melt, or even burst into flames. There were at least 96 cases reported, the device was banned from aircrafts, and a a six-year-old boy was reportedly burnt by an exploding unit. After a recall failed to solve the issue, it was permanently discontinued.Advertisement