It’s not just notch, 2018 is also the year that brought a wide variety of smartphones with facial recognition, including intermediate models, such as the Galaxy J8. But you better be careful with this technology: In a test done by Forbes, Android devices were fooled by a human head generated in a 3D printer. Only the iPhone X passed the test.
Thomas Brewster, a Forbes journalist who conducted the experiment, commissioned a 3D model of his own head precisely to evaluate the efficiency of the recognition mechanisms of five smartphones: iPhone X, LG G7 ThinQ, Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy S9 and OnePlus 6.
The false head was very well built. It has real size and has been “stoned” by editing software to correct any errors from the image capture step. The final version is incredibly detailed, just not being more realistic because it has a somewhat opaque coloration.
With the 3D printer artifact in hand, Brewster performed the next step of the test: he logged his phase on the five mentioned smartphones and then put the fake head in front of all of them. The four Android devices recognized the fake face and unlocked the phone.
The results of the test put the OnePlus 6 as the most insecure smartphone among those evaluated. The other three Androids have warned that facial recognition may be more inaccurate than other means of protection or that unlocking may work with a user-like person. In turn, OnePlus 6 does not give any kind of alert.
The Galaxy S9 seems to have been the “least worst.” Samsung’s cell phone was cheated, but only after Brewster tested different angles and varied levels of lighting. The iris recognition, another means of protection available in the S9, did not fail – it would be strange if it failed, after all, the eyes of the false head are very opaque.
In both Galaxy S9 and Galaxy Note 8, the fake head has been recognized in quick face unlocking and in the most time-consuming mode, which adds more layers of verification, although the procedure has been a bit more difficult in the latter. The same goes for unlocking the LG G7 ThinQ, with the difference that slow facial recognition proved more difficult to circumvent in it than in rivals.
As already said, only the iPhone X was not fooled. “Apple’s investment in its technology – the company worked with a Hollywood studio to create realistic face masks and Face ID – was worth it,” wrote Thomas Brewster. Curiously, he also tested Windows Hello: Microsoft’s technology did not recognize the three-dimensional form either.
OnePlus, LG and Samsung were asked to comment on the test. They all emphasized that the facial recognition technologies of their smartphones are more limited in the scope of reliability and therefore should be used for convenience purposes. For more critical operations, such as access to Samsung Pay, the ideal remains the use of fingerprint, iris or password authentication.
I have to say that throughout the year I was able to test several Android smartphones with facial recognition, among them Galaxy J8, Galaxy A7, LG G7 ThinQ and Zenfone 5Z. Although everyone has done the reconnaissance satisfactorily – despite a problem or another with lighting in some cases – I have always preferred unlocking via fingerprint because it seems more reliable and especially faster.
In short; the face recognition is not as reliable on every phone. The conclusion from the research is, therefore, to use your head, by devising a unique PIN. Anyone who is afraid of being hacked with the help of a fake face can better use a good password.