This time it was Forbes reporter specializing in privacy and digital security Thomas Brewster who has put it to the test along with four other Android smartphones. The iPhone X has been the only smartphone to be “impenetrable”.
The method to circumvent facial recognition
The technique used this time has been the impression of a full face in 3D. In a dome with 50 different cameras, images of the journalists’ faces were obtained from different angles, and then they were combined in a 3D model. Once the model was created, the errors it contained had to be improved through software.
In the next step, the face was printed using a 3D printer that uses plaster powder. To finish the mask it was necessary to paint it and give it the final touches. The whole process lasts several days and costs more than 350 euros.
As you can see, it is not a simple process. First you need to obtain a 3D model of the victim through a system of 50 cameras. After which, several additional work days are needed. It is not a method that is easy to perform or quick, which reminds us of the one that was used with the iPhone X last year and of which we had many doubts about its viability.
The iPhone X is the only one to pass the test
With the 3D model of his face, Brewster began to perform the facial recognition test with five different smartphones. This is the iPhone X, LG G7 ThinQ, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Samsung Galaxy S9 and OnePlus 6. According to the evidence, the reporter qualifies them as follows:
The OnePlus 6 has been the worst of all terminals, was unlocked in any light situation. It does not have quick unlock modes and less secure or slower but safer and did not have any kind of alert about the security of this system.
The Galaxy Note 8 does have these two modes of facial security, although the 3D mask was able to unlock it with both. Of course, the safest model requires playing a little more with the angles and light.
The Galaxy S9 could also be unlocked by the 3D model of the face but also requires moving the angle and try a warmer light to get it.
The LG G7 ThinQ is the Android terminal that most resistant to unlocking, although under certain conditions of light and angle could also be unlocked.
The only terminal that passed the test of the face printed in 3D was the iPhone X. Regardless of the warmth of the light or the angle, this method was unable to unlock the device.
Face ID continues to have an advantage over the competition
The Apple system uses four sensors to read if a face is correct, known as TrueDepth. This is the 7MP FaceTime camera, an infrared camera, a spot projector and an infrared illuminator. These sensors create a model of the face that is then stored securely in the Secure Enclave processor of the iPhone or iPad and to which no one else has access.
At the time it was said that Face ID was two years ahead of the competitors of the iPhone. More than a year after its official launch, there is no facial recognition system that is up to it and even exceeds it. Those that are not recommended by the manufacturers themselves to perform banking transactions (as in the case of the OnePlus or Galaxy used in the superior test). They see it as a secondary way to fingerprint recognition to unlock the terminal.
Android manufacturers do not recommend using their facial unlocking systems in banking payment applications
The absence of a facial proposal that meets safety requirements has caused many manufacturers to choose to integrate the fingerprint sensor on the screen. Qualcomm has been responsible for putting on the table a technology called ultrasonic sensor that is able to recognize fingerprints through the screen more accurately and safely. But we will have to wait until the terminals of the first half of 2019 integrate it to know more details.
As for Apple, throughout this year has prepared a new generation of Face ID slightly faster and has also integrated this system into the iPad Pro. Now, the company has five different devices that have Face ID: iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and iPad Pro of 11 and 12.9 inches.
Face ID is not just a simpler substitute for Touch ID. It has allowed the company to stretch the screens by reducing its side frames, while introducing a new form of gesture navigation on their devices. It is very likely that we will see how it expands to other devices such as the Mac or even the Apple Watch.