3D printed head tricks flagship Android phones, can’t fool iPhone X

Apple Face ID

Apple kickstarted a boom in facial recognition when it introduced Face ID with the iPhone X last year. Android phone makers soon followed suit with their take on the feature. The difference is that the latter group typically relied on the selfie camera to check a person’s face, relying on 2D captures.

In contrast, Face ID uses a special TrueDepth Camera setup to project dots onto a user’s face and create a 3D map of their features. Turns out, the extra layer of security is worth it because a new Forbes report found that the iPhone X was the only handset which could resist a 3D-printed head.

3D Head Samsung
Image Credit: Forbes

We’ve seen similar 3D-printed experiments before, but the iPhone X got fooled in one case. Here, the Apple device stays strong as the reporter dangles a very life-like replica of his face in front of it. The LG G7 ThinQ didn’t fare as well. It immediately unlocked when the head was presented to it.

iPhone X VS Android Flagships

In an interesting twist, LG later rolled out an update to the G7 ThinQ which introduced improved facial recognition to the phone. This made it harder to unlock, but it still couldn’t shield itself from the head 100% of the time. LG stresses that face scanning is a secondary unlock tool which makes smartphones less secure.

Even the Samsung Galaxy S9 agrees with this assessment, informing owners that it’s less safe than patterns, PINs, and passwords. The handset’s face scanner was fooled by the head via different angles and lighting, but the iris scanner wasn’t as easily won over.

Also Read: 2019 iPhone to grab improved Face ID system

The Galaxy Note 8 didn’t perform any better when it comes to facial recognition. Surprisingly, the weakest of the lot was the OnePlus 6. It immediately unlocked when put in front of the 3D head. The brand says its Face Unlock tool is primarily meant for convenience, not security.

At the end of the day, biometric methods can be fooled if you have enough time and money. Pins and passowrds are harder to crack, even if they do take longer to enter.