Since Apple came up with FaceID 3D facial recognition system on the iPhone X in 2017, most manufacturers have gone ahead to implement facial unlock features on most of their smartphone lineup. While the flagship models often get the more advanced three dimensional systems, the cheaper ones bring a similar functionality by using AI algorithms and the device’s front camera. The latter works in most scenarios and is a cost-effective way to provide budget smartphone buyers with a face unlock system. However, if you rely on such a system, your security could be heavily compromised.
Recent research conducted by a Consumer’s Association club in the Netherlands has come up with alarming results based on facial unlock systems on smartphones. A total of 110 smartphones were tested for their security measures against unlocking capabilities with a photograph. The selection of smartphones included a variety of devices from various price categories and from various manufacturers.
Out of the 100 smartphones, 42 smartphones failed to uphold the security of the device and unlocked when exposed to a high-resolution photo of the owner’s face. Rest of the devices stayed locked even after several attempts. The devices that failed the test were coming from the stables of Alcatel, Asus, Blackberry, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sony and Xiaomi.
Some of the prominent devices that failed the test surprisingly were the HTC U11+, Huawei P20 series, Moto E5 series and Motorola One as well as Moto G6 Play, Nokia 7.1, Samsung Galaxy A7 as well as Galaxy A8+, Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium and XZ2 Compact, and Xiaomi Mi A2. All these devices rely on a rudimentary system of front camera-based facial unlock feature. The face unlock feature in these phones don’t offer an option to switch to the higher security setting, which can trade unlocking speeds in favour of more security.
On the other hand, Apple’s entire range of FaceID-equipped iPhones for this year passed the test with flying colours. Samsung’s Galaxy S9 series and Note 9 also withheld the security that they promised. OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 6 also managed to retain their security even with the front camera-based face unlock system. Oppo’s Find X with FaceID-like 3D facial recognition feature also made it to the list. From Honor’s stables, the Honor 10, Honor 8X, Honor View 10 and Honor 7C made it o the list, failing to unlock with a photo. Lenovo’s Moto G6, Moto G6 Plus and Moto Z3 also didn’t fail to the security test.
Therefore, if a facial unlock feature is one of your high priorities in your next smartphone, you can refer to the list of all the phones that passed the test and figure out which one could stand a fair chance from a particular brand’s stable. Do note that a 3D facial recognition system with laser dots will be more effective in maintaining the security of the device.