Using your eyes to unlock your phone works better than you think, and it makes you feel like a secret agent.


We've seen face unlock (now known as "Trusted Face") on Android for a while, and various vendors have used fingerprint scanners — some very successfully, some not so much. But the Alcatel Idol 3 comes with a new way to manage your lockscreen security, and it uses eye biometrics with software from EyeVerify.

It's a simple concept — use the uniqueness of your iris pattern (that's the colored part of your eyeball) to tell your phone that it's OK to unlock. We've seen similar things in James Bond movies, usually protecting underground nuclear missile silos or other things that need to be protected from super-villains, and I'll admit that having it on your phone is pretty freaking cool.

If someone has your phone, and a detailed image of your eyes, you have bigger things to worry about

We'll start by saying that this probably isn't the most secure way to lock your phone up. It's likely a good photo can get past it, just like it can with facial recognition unlocking. But that doesn't affect the coolness factor one tiny bit. And if someone has your phone, and a detailed image of your eyes, you have bigger things to worry about.

Besides being a really neat way to unlock your phone, it's also easy to set up. Grab your phone, choose Eye-D as your locking and unlocking method, and follow the instructions. You'll need to get both eyes inside the field of view, and follow a roving circle with your eyeballs. After a few trips around the screen, your eye patterns will be registered and you can set up a PIN or pattern unlock in case your eyes don't work to unlock your phone.

The biggest question, of course, is "how well does it work?" The answer is, surprisingly well! I went into it with a healthy dose of scepticism. Different lighting conditions, with and without glasses, or being in a state that makes my eyes a little bloodshot were all things I figured would keep Eye-D from working as intended. I was wrong. Eye-D works at least 90% of the time (better than Android's face unlock in my experience) under just about any conditions.

We wouldn't recommend that you use this method to unlock a phone that holds anything really secret. But it works well, and is a lot of fun to use.