Photos unlock 40% of Android phones with face recognition

Facepalm: Following the launch of the iPhone X, almost every Android manufacturer rushed to implement facial recognition on their smartphones. Some like Samsung and Huawei have implemented hardware-based solutions, but others rely on the selfie camera to simply detect faces – not such a good idea it turns out, with people faces plastered all over social media.

Dutch non-profit Consumentenbond has worked with international partners to conduct an audit of 110 smartphones with facial recognition. Spoiler alert: 42 of them were unlocked with the kind of photo you’d find on social media or capture on security cams.

Passing the test (thankfully) are Samsung’s high-end and mid-tier offerings from 2018, all the OnePlus phones, Huawei’s Mate 20 series, Motorola’s 2018 phones, and the latest flagships from Asus, Honor, HTC and Oppo. All iPhones passed the test as well.

The LG G7, V35 and V40 passed the test on their highest security setting, but failed on the lower setting as did the Honor 7A.

Failing the test is every single Sony phone, the Huawei P20 series, the Nokias, the Blackberries and all the budget offerings from Samsung, LG, Motorola, Xiaomi and Asus.

The bottom line is, if you have one of these phones that also has a fingerprint scanner, then you’d better stick to that. To see if your phone passes, check the full list here.

In the modern age, it’s incredibly easy for a potential thief to get someone’s photo of social media or take one covertly with their own phone. Attempting a face unlock with a photo is the first and most common test anyone would apply, and if a face unlock system can’t stand up to it, then it’s practically useless. Hopefully, companies will up their game for 2019.