Forbes reporter Thomas Brewster built a 3D printed model of his own head to test the face unlock feature on some top-class smartphones — four Android models and an iPhone X.
With the gradual disappearance of fingerprint sensors, either behind screens or, in the case of the iPhone, completely, there is a great effort to make face recognition perfect. Although most of the tests have moved past using photos or even images displayed on a phone screen, there is no expense spared for trying to dupe this new breed of face recognition technologies. Surprisingly Thomas Brewster uses a carefully crafted 3D printed head to test the iPhone X and four Android phones. And the results, shocking!
The test was conducted on five different smartphones – iPhone X, LG G7 ThinQ, Samsung Galaxy S9, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, and OnePlus 6. After setting up the facial unlocking feature using his real face, Brewster was able to unlock all the four Android smartphones using the 3D printed model of his own head. He admits all the Android phones were unlocked with ‘differing degrees of ease’.
Bad news for all Android users: only the iPhone X defended against the hack. The good thing is that LG and Samsung give you a warning that face unlock might not be as secure as a traditional password method or the fingerprint scanner, accepting the fact that they could be hacked by some measures.
And the worst performer of the entire gameplay, the OnePlus 6 which doesn’t warn you about its face unlock being less secure and it also failed the test with the 3D printed face. And, despite some sci-fi style face scanning graphics when registering a face, the phone instantly opened when presented with the fake head. It was, undoubtedly, the least secure of the devices they tested.
The reporter also added, “Microsoft appeared to have done a fine job too. It’s new Windows Hello facial recognition also didn’t accept the fake head as real.”