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A deep dive into the Galaxy S5's snappy fingerprint scanner

A swipe of your digit is all it takes for your unique prints to unlock the phone so you can pay for goods. Here's what CNET's Jessica Dolcourt thinks of it.

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BARCELONA, Spain -- Samsung didn't shed many details about the fingerprint scanner on its new Galaxy S5 smartphone, but I had a chance to set up and use the security feature here at the show.

First, the basics. Samsung's sensor is on the bottom portion of the screen, not integrated into the home button as I originally thought. To unlock the phone with your finger, you swipe along the glowing path about half an inch from the bottom of the phone, going down and over the home button.

Setup took just a few minutes, after swiping my finger eight times along the sensitive portion of the screen to fully read my print. You're able to register only three profiles, for your own fingers or for someone else's.

The swiping area seems like it's pretty limited to a narrow, vertical strip. That means your finger has to be more or less vertical to succeed, which also means that you will probably need to hold the Galaxy S5 with one hand while unlocking it with the other. I chose my index finger.

Scanning for prints worked pretty well, but I did experience some misfires if my finger wasn't correctly aligned or if I moved too quickly. If you do error out, you can also access the phone through a 4-digit backup PIN.

Overall, I like Samsung's approach to biometric unlocking, and it's something I'd use, especially if I were going to buy products through PayPal's fingerprint-scanning verification program. For a step-by-step guide to getting started, check out the gallery below.

Catch all the mobile news from Mobile World Congress 2014.