One of the most-touted features of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s new iPhone 5S has been the TouchID fingerprint sensor. However, many users are reporting such big problems with it that they’re giving up on using it.

Apple TouchId

Apple users report problems

Timothy Stenovec of Huffington Post reports that many people who were excited about the TouchID fingerprint scanner have experienced major letdowns. One iPhone user named Fred Kahl told him he never used a passcode on his iPhone because it was a pain to have to put in the numbered code every time he wanted to use his iPhone. He thought the fingerprint scanner would be a good, easier alternative to security, but he said it works “less than half the time” he tries to use it.

But he’s not alone. At this point it isn’t easy to tell just how many users of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s new iPhone 5S are having serious problems with the fingerprint scanner. However, Stenovec points to a post about the issue on Apple’s forum. Also others in the media have mentioned problems with it, and his own mother has stopped using it.

Apple’s TouchID a new milestone, or a major flaw?

TUAW ran a poll about the TouchID technology and found that almost a fifth of those who responded said the sensor worked for them less than 75% of the time. It was supposed to be a new level of security for mobile devices, but instead, it is turning out to be a major flop.

The technology is supposed to work by reading the fingerprint that has been scanned and then comparing it to a version stored on the device. That version has been converted to numbers. If the fingerprint matches closely enough to what is stored, then the phone will unlock. One expert told Stenovec that all Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) might have to do to fix the problem is offer a software update which would enable the sensor to accept only a partial match.

The feature then becomes less secure because it would be easier for others to access someone’s iPhone. However, some say it doesn’t matter because the decrease in the likelihood that someone could get into an iPhone owned by someone else would still be very small.

Reported problems with Apple’s TouchID

Most of those who have posted about their problems on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s forums said the TouchID worked well in the beginning for a few weeks but that over time, it gradually worked less and less. Many users now see the feature as being obsolete because it fails to work so often.

Apple’s advice to those having problems has been for users to rescan their fingerprints. However, some users say they have done this and that it is pointless to keep doing this since it just doesn’t work. It’s worth noting that not all users are having this problem, but it is widespread enough that Apple will need to address it with a better fix than just telling people to rescan their fingerprints.

The TouchID scanner was the big thing which was supposed to set Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s new iPhones 5S apart from other handsets. If the feature doesn’t work, then it is just another pricey handset.