Fingerprint sensors are still better than facial recognition
Alongside the various Android phones I've tested, I've been using the iPhone X for about two months now. One of the most noteworthy changes to the iPhone X over previous models is the removal of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, now replaced with a high-tech face unlock function Apple calls Face ID. Some Android phones have similar features; the OnePlus 5T, Huawei P20 Pro, and the Galaxy S9 all feature facial recognition in some form, but all maintain the fingerprint sensor, too. Why?
Facial recognition is great for a lot of reasons. It's completely effortless, since the only step you have to take is waking your phone's display — though if you have raise to wake enabled, you don't even have to do that much. Once your phone knows to look for you, it quickly authenticates you and unlocks to the home screen, without you ever having to type in a PIN or touch the fingerprint sensor. It's almost like not having any lock screen security at all — until someone else tries to get into your phone, that is.
It's also nice to still be able to unlock your phone when the fingerprint sensor is out of reach. In today's landscape of phones that try to maximize screen space, most fingerprint sensors are moving to the back to help trim down on the bezel below the display. While this is ergonomically convenient when you're holding your phone, it makes it impossible to quickly unlock your phone on a flat surface like a table or wireless charger. Fingerprint sensors are no good in the dead of winter, either, since they can't work through gloves. With facial recognition, as long as your display is facing you, you'll likely have no trouble getting into your phone.
That's not always a guarantee, though. If you're in a bright environment like broad daylight, your phone may have some trouble seeing you. Likewise, facial recognition makes it hard to covertly check your phone in a movie theater or meeting (not that you should be doing that anyway) due to the angles required for your phone to identify your face. None of that is a problem for fingerprint sensors, which work in any lighting or angle.
Fingerprint sensors are also multifunctional. In addition to authenticating you, many fingerprint sensors are capable of recognizing swipes in different directions for carrying out navigational gestures. The most common of these gestures is a swipe down on a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor to pull down the notification shade, but some phones make even more use of gestures.
Huawei phones with rear fingerprint sensors, for example, allow you to swipe left or right on the sensor while in your gallery to scroll through photos. On the other hand, Huawei phones with fingerprint sensors beneath the display are able to entirely replace the software keys with taps and swiping gestures. The same goes for Motorola phones, though the exact gestures differ.
I think the best security solution is having both facial recognition and a fingerprint sensor. Samsung's Intelligent Scan software on the Galaxy S9 combines both technologies, along with iris scanning, to give users the best of both worlds. But if I could only choose one option, I'd stick with a fingerprint sensor for now. In addition to quicker unlocking when I'm holding the phone, I love the convenience of swiping down to access my notification shade — especially as phones get increasingly tall aspect ratios and move the notification shade farther away from my fingers.
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What are your thoughts? Do you prefer fingerprint sensors or are you a fan of the more futuristic facial recognition? Let us know in the comments below!
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Hayato was a product reviewer and video editor for Android Central.
Patterns, pins and knocking are so easy to steal if used in public.
I believe they now take far more reference points.
Only time face id would be beneficial is when the phone is flat on my desk and in that case face id doesn't work without me moving above it.
If I wore gloves instead of sunglasses it might make it worth while but waking and unlocking with a 100% reliable FPS is still the ultimate system for me.
constantly stop while were walking just to unlock her phone. Never had this problem on her 6S
Phone is awake and unlocked as it leaves my pocket. No extra swiping looking or scanning.
I can understand how face ID can be "ok" but it's never going to be better and there's no good reason for Apple to forget to put it on a phone.
You can't fool the latest face scanners with a photo. And I believe they have fooled the face ID with a 3D model.
FPS are quicker and secure enough for credit card companies to authorize their use.
Not sure what you keep on your phone but for me just using it for work banking and all my personal files I'm happy with the fact you would need to kill me to get my phone in the first place.
On Huawei phones, where fingerprint sensor is on the back, you wouldn't have to adjust your hold on the phone nor stretch the thumb.
It didn't work with my sunglasses on.
I had to look at my phone at just the right angle and It's slower and less reliable.
Also having to swipe up after unlocking made the whole experience twice as long as a FPS.
With FPS the phone is awake and unlocked before it's left my pocket.
My Sony Xperia XZ Premium has a FPS on the side.
My GS9 has a FPS and Intelligent scan turned on.
My iPhone X has FaceID. I have used them all quite a bit and love them all for different reasons. If I would only judge the unlocking process the win goes to the iPhone X with absolutely no hesitation. It is the fastest, most effortless, and consistent unlocking process out of all of them. That being said, I wouldn't have minded a FPS somewhere on the phone as an additional option.