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The Samsung Galaxy S10 face unlock can be fooled by a drawing

Or a video, or a picture, or maybe a passing cat (probably)

samsung galaxy s10 in hand
Image: Andrew Martonik / Twitter

Oh, what a time to be alive! We almost have flying taxis, self-driving cars, and autonomous delivery robots. Do you know what we don’t have? Consistently secure facial recognition for unlocking our phones. Sure, if you’re an iPhone owner you can continue being smug with your snazzy Face ID and TrueDepth camera, but what about the rest of us?

Android does have native face recognition, with Trusted Face, but it’s pretty basic. It doesn’t even have iris identification or anything to check if the unlocker is alive.

So, how basic is basic?

Well, in the case of the Samsung Galaxy S10, pretty damn basic. See, for how secure the nifty in-screen ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is, the face unlock feature is terrible and essentially useless.

Italian blog SmartWorld managed to fool the face unlock on the Galaxy S10 with a line drawing of the person’s face. Yes, a drawing. Not even a picture, or a video. A hand-drawn, shitty sketch that roughly had the right features in the right places.


That might be the most striking example of how easy it is to fool the Galaxy S10’s face unlock, but it’s far from the only case. mobiFlip has demonstrated unlocking the face recognition with a picture on another smartphone, and The Verge in its Galaxy S10+ review mentioned unlocking the phone with a video playing on another phone.

If you don’t use the fingerprint sensor, don’t care about locking your phone for security and only want Face Unlock to show you your phone screen – by all means, use it on your snazzy, expensive Galaxy S10. If you bought the S10 because of the strong biometrics in the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, make sure Face Unlock is disabled.

For those of you who want a strong face unlock feature, there’s a handful of handsets to choose from. The iPhone XS series, iPhone XR, iPhone X (sense a trend?), Xiaomi’s Mi 8 Explorer Edition, Huawei Mate 20 Pro and the LG G8 ThinQ all have proper face identification systems. If you’re in the US, that choice narrows to pretty much just the iPhone models, as good luck getting anything Xiaomi or Huawei makes, and the LG G8 won’t be available for a while.

What do you think? Surprised by the results? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere. His hobbies include photography, animation, and hoarding Reddit gold.

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