Even though several Android OEMs offer face unlock feature on their mid-range and flagship devices, their implementation isn’t as sophisticated as Apple’s.
This fact has been once again proved by a recently conducted test by Forbes where face-recognition systems of several smartphones were unlocked with a 3D printed head of the phone’s owner.
To explain how insecure the face unlock implementation on most Android devices is, devices like the Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy S9, LG G7 ThinQ, and OnePlus 6 were unlocked just by using a 3D-printed face from Backface in Birmingham, U.K.
The 3D printed head easily fooled all the four Android devices. Only Apple’s Face ID on the iPhone X refused to unlock the device regardless of the number of tries. In the author’s own words, Apple’s Face ID remained “impenetrable.”
The result wasn’t too surprising given that Apple uses an array of sensors for Face ID whereas Android OEM devices solely rely on the front camera for face unlock.
Even though this implementation has its own set of pros and cons. The Android devices by OnePlus, LG and Samsung Galaxy offer a faster face unlock experience than Apple. But they are not as secure as Apple’s.
Although LG and Samsung gives you a warning that face unlock might not be as secure as a traditional password method or the fingerprint scanner.
The LG G7 ThinQ even received an update which made face unlock slightly more secure. Whereas Samsung offers iris recognition on the Galaxy Note 8 and S9 which cannot be fooled by the 3D printed face.
The least secure phone among them was OnePlus 6 which doesn’t warn you about its face unlock being less secure and it also failed the test with the 3D printed face.
Overall, this test simply confirmed and highlighted what we already know. So for those Android users for whom security is more important, it is best to stick to password/PIN lock.