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Almost half of smartphones with facial recognition are unlocked with a photo

The fingerprint reader is becoming a quasi-marginal technology in the high-end, and it is that facial recognition sensors were the main protagonists in 2018. 2019 aims to consolidate this trend, with important firms betting on a hole in the screen in which a small TOF sensor is included. However, relying on facial recognition is a double-edged sword, since there are practically only two possible scenarios. In the first, we would find a smartphone with sensors capable of analyzing the patterns of our face, making a 3D scan of it and storing its data on the phone to improve on subsequent readings. In a second, the phone would be unlocked by the camera, thus being quite easy to circumvent the security system.

Consumptionbond wanted to test facial recognition security on several of the most popular smartphones on the market, with not too encouraging results. Almost 4 out of 10 smartphones were unlocked with a photo, proof that if this system is not implemented with sufficient hardware, the results may be totally insufficient at the security level. The situation worsens even more if we tell you that the real figure is even higher, very close to 47%. The Consumentenbond study has certain limitations that, after its elimination, show results closer to reality.

38% of the phones failed the test

htc u11 +

42 of the 110 phones tested by the Dutch nonprofit failed the photo test, and they were unlocked without the slightest problem. One lines below you will find the list of phones that failed the test, among them some of the most popular devices of the moment such as the Huawei P20 Pro, the Xperia XZ2 or the Xperia XZ3.

It seems clear that a smartphone without dedicated sensors for 3D reading of our face, the results can be quite poor. However, this study has a rather striking problem, which we will detail below.

NGO testing biases

Mobile

Before continuing with the listing, the main bias of this test has been clarified. Consumptionbond has sampled different storage versions and country variants, so that among the list of 110 telephones we find a large number of repetitions. This offers us some final results that, in our opinion, do not make much sense, since it is logical that if a 64 GB mobile fails, the 128 GB one does too. Thus, We show you both the Consumentenbond data with the repetitions and ours, in which we have eliminated them.

  • Alcatel 1X
  • Asus Zenfone 5 Lite 64 GB
  • Asus Zenfone 5, ZE620KL (64 GB)
  • BlackBerry Key2
  • BlackBerry Key2 (US version)
  • BQ Aquaris X2
  • BQ Aquaris X2 Pro
  • General Mobile GM8
  • HTC U11 +
  • Huawei P20 (EML – L29)
  • Huawei P20 Lite
  • Huawei P20 Pro (CLT – L29)
  • Lenovo Motorola Moto E5
  • Lenovo Motorola Moto E5 (BR version)
  • Lenovo Motorola Moto E5 Plus (BR version)
  • Lenovo Motorola Moto G6 Play
  • LG K9 (LM-X210EMW)
  • LG Q6 Alpha (LG-M700n)
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play (BR version)
  • Motorola One
  • Nokia 3.1
  • Nokia 3.1 (US version)
  • Nokia 7.1
  • Oukitel VU
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)
  • Samsung Galaxy A8 (32GB) (SM-A530F / DS
  • Samsung Galaxy A8 (64GB)
  • Samsung Galaxy A8 + (SM-A730F)
  • Samsung Galaxy J8 Brazil
  • Sony Xperia L2 (H3311)
  • Sony Xperia L2 (H3321)
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 (H8216)
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 (US version)
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact (H8314)
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact (US version)
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact Dual SIM (H8324)
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Dual SIM (H8266)
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium (US version)
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
  • Vodafone Smart N9
  • Xiaomi Mi A2
  • Xiaomi Mi A2 (32GB)
  • Alcatel 1X
  • Asus Zenfone 5 Lite 64 GB
  • Asus Zenfone 5, ZE620KL (64 GB)
  • BlackBerry Key2
  • BQ Aquaris X2
  • BQ Aquaris X2 Pro
  • General Mobile GM8
  • HTC U11 +
  • Huawei P20 (EML – L29)
  • Huawei P20 Lite
  • Huawei P20 Pro (CLT – L29)
  • Lenovo Motorola Moto E5
  • Lenovo Motorola Moto E5 Plus (BR version)
  • Lenovo Motorola Moto G6 Play
  • LG K9 (LM-X210EMW)
  • LG Q6 Alpha (LG-M700n)
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play (BR version)
  • Motorola One
  • Nokia 3.1
  • Nokia 7.1
  • Oukitel VU
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)
  • Samsung Galaxy A8 (64GB)
  • Samsung Galaxy J8 Brazil
  • Sony Xperia L2 (H3321)
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 (H8216)
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact (H8314)
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium (US version)
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
  • Vodafone Smart N9
  • Xiaomi Mi A2

Those who have passed the test

iPhone Xr

Not everything is bad news, and it is that there are several smartphones that have passed the test. Most of them don't even have dedicated sensors for facial recognition, something that seems to show that a good piece of software can make up for hardware shortcomings. Terminals such as OnePlus, Honor or Huawei –their results are curious, taking into account the suspense in the Huawei P20 Pro–, they manage to keep the type before a photo, despite the fact that many of its terminals do not have dedicated sensors for facial recognition.

However, as we already noted lines above, a terminal that stores our facial data safely through the optimal hardware-software combination It will always be a better option at the security level with respect to that terminal that only uses the RGB sensor of the camera.

  • Alcatel 3V (5099D)
  • Alcatel 5
  • Apple iPhone XR (128GB)
  • Apple iPhone XR (256GB)
  • Apple iPhone XR (64 GB)
  • Apple iPhone XS (256GB)
  • Apple iPhone XS (512 GB)
  • Apple iPhone XS (64GB)
  • Apple iPhone XS Max (256GB)
  • Apple iPhone XS Max (512GB)
  • Apple iPhone XS Max (64GB)
  • Asus Zenfone Max Plus (ZB570TL)
  • Honor 10
  • Honor 7C
  • Honor 8X
  • Honor View 10
  • HTC U12 + (EU version)
  • HTC U12 + (US version) Huawei P Smart +
  • Huawei Y6 (2018) (off-L21)
  • Huawei Y7 (2018)
  • Huawei Mate 20
  • Huawei Mate 20 Lite
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro
  • Lenovo Motorola Moto G6 (32GB)
  • Lenovo Motorola Moto G6 (64GB)
  • Lenovo Motorola Moto G6 (US version)
  • Lenovo Motorola Moto G6 Plus
  • Lenovo Motorola Moto Z3 .US version
  • Lenovo Motorola Moto Z3 Play
  • Lenovo Motorola Moto Z3 Play .US version
  • Motorola Moto G6 (BR version)
  • Motorola Moto G6 Plus (BR version)
  • One Plus 5T
  • OnePlus 6 (128GB)
  • OnePlus 6 (256GB)
  • OnePlus 6 (64GB)
  • OnePlus 6 (US version) (64GB)
  • Oppo Find X
  • Samsung Galaxy A6 (32GB)
  • Samsung Galaxy A6 + (32GB)
  • Samsung Galaxy A6 + (64GB)
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)
  • Samsung Galaxy J6 (2018)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (128 GB) (EU version)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (128 GB) Dual SIM (BR version)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (128GB) Single SIM (EU Version)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9 SM-N960U1 (US version)
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 (SM-G960F / DS)
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 SM-G960U1 (US model)
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 256GB
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 dual (128GB)
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 + (SM-G965F / DS)
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 + 256GB
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 + dual (128GB)
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 + single SIM
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 + SM-G965U1 (US model)
  • WIKO View 2
  • Alcatel 3V (5099D)
  • Alcatel 5
  • Apple iPhone XR (64 GB)
  • Apple iPhone XS (64GB)
  • Apple iPhone XS Max (64GB)
  • Asus Zenfone Max Plus (ZB570TL)
  • Honor 10
  • Honor 7C
  • Honor 8X
  • Honor View 10
  • HTC U12 + (EU version)
  • Huawei P Smart +
  • Huawei Y6 (2018) (off-L21)
  • Huawei Y7 (2018)
  • Huawei Mate 20
  • Huawei Mate 20 Lite
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro
  • Lenovo Motorola Moto G6 (32GB)
  • Lenovo Motorola Moto G6 Plus
  • Lenovo Motorola Moto Z3 .US version
  • Lenovo Motorola Moto Z3 Play
  • Motorola Moto G6 (BR version)
  • Motorola Moto G6 Plus (BR version)
  • One Plus 5T
  • OnePlus 6 (64GB)
  • Oppo Find X
  • Samsung Galaxy A6 (32GB)
  • Samsung Galaxy A6 + (64GB)
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)
  • Samsung Galaxy J6 (2018)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (128 GB) (EU version)
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 (SM-G960F / DS)
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 + (SM-G965F / DS)
  • WIKO View 2

Our results

Android phones

If we eliminate the repetitions, we have a total of 65 mobile phones. 31 of them could be unlocked by facial recognition, so the figures on insecurity in the terminals increase. Specifically, we find that a 47% of phones failed the test. Apple, Huawei or Oppo are good examples of 3D facial recognition is the safest alternative, and is that although a terminal can not be unlocked with a photo, it will always be easier to circumvent this system than those that really offer a “Face Identity”.

The results should not be taken as an absolute truth, since although we take the word of Consumentenbond for true, They are not specialized safety laboratories that have replicated various experimental conditions that really demonstrate the failure rate that a phone with or without 3D recognition can have. However, They are a good indication of the lack of security in Android in terms of facial recognition., and the need that, at least the high-end terminals, include specific hardware to store this type of biometric data.