The Samsung Galaxy S10 Proves Android’s Facial Recognition Is Still Terrible

Samsung Galaxy S10 Credit: Karlis Dambrans / Shutterstock
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Facial recognition has been a feature on Android phones for quite some time. But a new report suggests that, since its debut, Android facial recognition hasn’t really improved at all.

Case in point: the facial recognition feature on Samsung’s latest and greatest Galaxy S10 lineup is just as easy to bypass as the facial recognition on past Samsung handsets.

Popular YouTube channel Unbox Therapy appears to be the first to discover the lackluster security on the new Samsung flagships. Host Lew Hilsenteger demonstrated that a YouTube video of his own face played on another smartphone was enough to fool the S10’s authentication.

The Verge later ran its own test of the Galaxy S10’s facial recognition in its dedicated review — playing a video of a user’s face on another smartphone — and came away with similar results.

Mostly, this is because the Galaxy S10 is just using the front-facing camera to scan your face and compare it to previously registered images. There’s no fancy 3D depth-mapping or laser analysis going on here.

That’s a far cry from Apple’s Face ID facial recognition platform. Powered by the TrueDepth camera, Face ID isn’t as easily fooled by pictures or videos of faces. To be clear, Face ID isn’t completely impenetrable. But it is a lot more secure than any other smartphone-based facial recognition on the market.

It’s also worth noting that, with the hole-punch design on the new S10 devices, there isn’t exactly a lot of room for the sensors required for secure facial authentication.

Samsung itself even admits that its facial recognition is mostly there for show and to bump up the S10’s technical specifications. When TechRadar inquired about the security feature, Samsung steered users toward authenticating with its fancy new in-display fingerprint sensor.

If you’re using one of the new Galaxy S10 handsets, we recommended going that route, too. But if you’re on an iPhone, don’t worry. Face ID is a lot harder to trick.

Way back in October 2017, well-respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo wrote that the TrueDepth camera is two and a half years ahead of the competition. Now, nearly eighteen months later, that still appears to be the case.

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