2017 brought two major gimmicky features that quickly became the basic requirements for every premium smartphone as well as midrange smartphone in the world — narrow-bezel displays and facial recognition. While the former has helped propel growth in the smartphone market, the latter has generated some substantial interest amongst the communities of geeks. Facial recognition is touted as the next big thing and is expected to be the primary biometric verification method in the upcoming year or two.
A few months ago, we had pitted two flagship smartphones against each other to compare which one fares better at reading human faces — the OnePlus 5T and the Apple iPhone X. The system in both the contenders had their own share of advances as well as drawbacks, with the iPhone X edging out by a slight margin. Since then, the competition has woken up and tried out their hands at putting facial recognition for verification methods. Two prominent names from the smartphone segment have jumped into the action — Honor with its flagship View 10 and Samsung with its first premium flagship smartphone of 2018, the Galaxy A8+. The old players have also gone through several software updates, improving the performance of these facial recognition systems. Therefore, is there any change in the final verdict?
Also read: OnePlus 5T review
The Apple iPhone X comes with a dedicated hardware for dealing with facial recognition verification system. Its 3D-depth camera along with the IR sensor and the dot projector is claimed to be a robust system that users can completely rely on, which is why Apple has completely forgone the TouchID on the X. The rest of the Android fraternity — the OnePlus 5T, Honor View 10 and the Samsung A8+ rely on the front camera sensor and the power of some appreciable artificial intelligence for doing the job, without any notch.
Winner: the Android fraternity
Facial recognition speed
One of the most important criteria for judging a biometric verification system is speed. No matter how advanced the system may be, it takes some considerable time to react and unlock the phone, then the user would prefer to rely on the on-screen pattern or password methods. Out of the four, the OnePlus 5T’s Face Unlock emerges as the winner here, unlocking in a blink of an eye. You press the power button and the 5T directly brings you the home screen, without showing any glimpse of the lock screen. Of course, you can change the settings to make it work only when you need to unlock the phone, but the 5T is noticeable the fastest by any means.
The Honor View 10 comes close to OnePlus 5T in terms of response. The iPhone X relies on a separate hardware and takes some noticeable time to unlock. The Samsung Galaxy A8+ comes dead last, taking up to a second or two to unlock the display. Note that the Samsung A8+ achieved this speed in the low-security mode as the high-security mode failed to recognise the face even in close proximity.
Winner: OnePlus 5T
The iPhone X trumps the all the others by a huge margin with its ability to work in any lighting conditions. Whether it be daylight or extremely dark rooms, the iPhone X’s FaceID is happy to see your face and unlock the phone without any issue. The OnePlus 5T follows the iPhone X with a tad slower response time in low light conditions. The latest Oxygen OS update makes the Face Unlock feature use the display as a feature to throw light on the face and verify. One the whole, the system on these two smartphones have you covered in most lighting conditions.
The Honor View 10 and the Samsung Galaxy A8+ work well only in well-lit surroundings. Both of them require you to manually max out the brightness for making the facial recognition systems to work. Both Honor and Samsung should adopt the OnePlus trick for making the system work on their devices.
Winner: iPhone X
Also read: Apple iPhone X review
This is the trickiest criteria. All the manufacturers claim their facial recognition systems aren’t perfect yet and ask the users to exercise caution at all times while using the system. We tried to fool the iPhone X with several photos and videos of a face and it refused to open up the phone. However, YouTube is full of videos showing the iPhone X’s FaceID is failing to distinguish between twins and face masks.
The Face Unlock on OnePlus 5T also refused to open up after several attempts to fool the system. Same was the case with the Honor View 10 and the Samsung A8+ (even in its low-security mode which warns of confusing between photos and videos). All the Android smartphones have a fingerprint scanner as the backup biometric verification system.
And the winner is…
The OnePlus 5T’s Face Unlock system. It manages to work in a way that the world expects it to. It is fast, works in most lighting scenarios, doesn’t need any additional hardware and is not easy to crack. The iPhone X comes close to the 5T with its robust FaceID system that also works well, albeit with not the same amount of eagerness the OnePlus 5T displays. The Honor View 10’s Face Unlock system needs some improvements, especially in low light scenarios whereas Samsung A8+’s facial unlock has a lot of scope for improvement in terms of speed, reliability and security.
Also read: Honor View 10 review