Samsung Galaxy S10 face unlock can be fooled by a photograph

Android has had face unlock since Android 4 ICS back in 2011. Then Apple revived it with the iPhone X. Now, the feature has found its way to just about every phone released in 2018 and is little more than marketing fluff (along with Dual Camera, Octa Cora Processor, and the likes.)

Samsung Galaxy S10 face unlock

The way Apple does it is by having a mini Xbox Kinect in the notch above their display which creates a 3D model of the users face with invisible laser dots and a time of flight sensor. On Android, however (aside from the few who have taken Apple’s approach like some Huawei & Xiaomi phones), unlocking your phone via facial recognition is inherently insecure, and Android has always made it a point to let their users know about it. Last year, the OnePlus 6 ran into a similar issue, where the phone could be unlocked via a printed version of the users face. The Samsung Galaxy S10 seems to be running into similar problems, as demonstrated by popular YouTuber Unbox Therapy.

As demonstrated in the video above, the Galaxy S10 could easily be unlocked via a YouTube video of the user displayed via another phone. Lewis (Unbox Therapy) was first made aware of the problem by his editor and was able to reproduce it multiple times in the video. Although it isn’t much, Samsung does specify that using your face to unlock the phone is insecure and that you’re better off using your fingerprint.

For the Galaxy Note 9 and preceding devices, Samsung phones used a hybrid between facial recognition and iris scanning to unlock the device. The method was, however, unreliable and very slow. This is why the Galaxy S10 is getting its own version of ‘Face Unlock’ that just uses the selfie camera. The method is, and will continue to be a security risk, even in the foreseeable future, but at this point, it is on the long list of features that have to be present on a phone for it to sell. Luckily, Samsung will implement a more secure face unlock on the Galaxy S10 5G that does have a time of flight sensor on the front.

Samsung Galaxy S10 face unlock

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