Face unlock can’t hold a candle to Apple’s Face ID on iPhone — that’s really no surprise considering no other facial recognition system can outpunch the Cupertino brand’s 3D face unlock at the moment.
Even Samsung admits it. Its just-released Galaxy S10 is one of the most feature-packed flagship devices and comes with two security systems: an in-display fingerprint scanner — a first on any Samsung phone — and front camera-assisted Face Unlock. If you had to pick between the two, though, don’t go for face unlock. Samsung itself says so.
Here’s why: face unlock on Galaxy S10 is laughably bad. No facial recognition system is perfect, sure. But when they’re used for security purposes, it’s fair to demand they be as perfect as possible. Face unlock is not even close.
As some users have recently discovered, the system can easily be fooled by using a picture — printed or otherwise. The Verge was able to test this by taking a selfie or video on a separate phone and using that to open the handset, and it worked.
Unbox Therapy noted the same in a recent video, putting the phone to the test with circumstances that should not have tricked the phone but still did. That’s how vulnerable the Galaxy S10 is to potential unauthorized access. So much for “secure.” The bad news is it’s endemic to face unlock systems that use only a camera and come unassisted by other components, such as an iris scanner.
An exact replica of the person’s face might not even be needed, just a resemblance, as noted by researcher Jane Manchun Wong who was able to unlock her brother’s Galaxy S10 just because they look somewhat alike.
In a statement sent to TechRadar, Samsung says that facial recognition is a “convenient” way to open the Galaxy S10.
“For actions requiring strong security, Samsung recommends using the new in-display Ultrasonic Fingerprint that unlocks only with your physical fingerprint.” That’s unmistakably an endorsement of using fingerprints instead of face unlock, directly from Samsung itself.
Clearly, Samsung’s face unlock implementation is massively flawed, which is unfortunate considering the Galaxy S10’s asking price is pretty huge. What’s more, to make mistakes of this nature at this point in the game is embarrassing, especially for such an esteemed manufacturer as Samsung.