Comparison: iPhone X vs. Galaxy S9+ biometrics

Posted:
in iPhone edited March 2018
Samsung's recently released Galaxy S9+ comes with a new Intelligent Scan biometric security feature that essentially combines Face Recognition and Iris Scanning technology seen in last year's Note 8. Find out how it compares with Apple's Face ID on iPhone X in this video.





Last year we compared the biometric capabilities of Apple's iPhone X with Samsung's then-current Note 8 phablet, which integrated Face Recognition and Iris Scanning security technologies.

Apple's Face ID was far more secure and reliable, as the Note 8 had issues when holding the phone at an angle. Samsung's Face Recognition failed to work in the dark, and would unlock even when a user's eyes were closed, posing a potential security risk. Samsung also included a fingerprint sensor in the Note 8, but the component was placed in a poor location.

This year, Samsung rolled its Face Recognition and Iris Scanning technologies into a single feature called Intelligent Scan. To see if the Korean tech giant has caught up to Apple, we put the S9+ through the paces in a side-by-side comparison with iPhone X.

Right off the bat, Samsung presents a disclaimer when registering your face and irises for the first time, saying iris scanning can damage the eyesight of infants could cause problems in adults. A bit worrying for a consumer device intended for daily use. A quick look online shows a number of users complaining about eye strain when using the feature.

One thing we noticed is that Intelligent Scan is not yet able to authenticate Samsung Pay purchases. Apple on the other hand, is so confident in Face ID, that you can use it to unlock your phone, automatically bring up login credentials, make purchases with Apple Pay, iTunes, and App store, and you can even use it to unlock very sensitive and private apps like the Bank of America banking app and Paypal.




Starting with a basic speed test, the S9+ definitely beats iPhone X in delivering a user to the home screen. Apple's iPhone requires users swipe up to reach the home screen after Face ID authentication, an extra step that takes time. Samsung gives you the option to go straight to your home screen when using Intelligent Scan.

In a range test, we held the phones at arms length. Face ID worked every single time. On the S9+, sometimes it would work instantly, but other times it prompted us to bring the phone closer to our face. Laying both phones flat on a table at an angle away from the user's face, the iPhone X was able to unlock on the first attempt, whereas the S9+ asked to hold it upright in order to unlock. Performing the same test at waist level yielded similar results.

As expected, neither phone would unlock using a selfie.

Putting on a regular pair of glasses, we instantly noticed that the angle at which Intelligent Scan worked was now limited. The phone needed to be at eye level to get it to consistently unlock. However, as soon as the glasses were raised, it would unlock instantly. Meanwhile, the iPhone X worked like a charm, every time.

For our final test, we turned the lights off and lowered the brightness on each phone to the minimum setting. The iPhone X worked perfectly every single time, but the S9+ was again limited by its scan angle. We also noticed that the S9+ would gradually raise its brightness before unlocking.

So which facial authentication system is better? Intelligent Scan definitely fixed some issues by combining both authentication methods together, but it's still not as good as iPhone X's solution. Face ID just works, and much more reliably.

The cherry on top is the fact that you can't use Samsung Pay with Intelligent Scan, suggesting even Samsung doesn't fully trust its own security.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    georgie01georgie01 Posts: 240member
    Thanks for the video. Interesting! Seems like it’s best to stick with the fingerprint sensor for the S9 (consistency and security).
  • Reply 2 of 17
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,515member
    Though why Samsung opted to put the fingerprint sensor right next to the camera lens remains a mystery (other Android phones sensibly move that sensor away from the camera so it is easier to avoid the lens).
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 17
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 319member
    I was quite impressed when, without hesitation in the first try, my iPhone X unlocked when I was wearing rather dark prescription Oakley sunglasses. 

    After months of use the only time it occasionally  has trouble is when my face is in very bright bright side sunlight. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 17
    analogjackanalogjack Posts: 1,066member
    chasm said:
    Though why Samsung opted to put the fingerprint sensor right next to the camera lens remains a mystery (other Android phones sensibly move that sensor away from the camera so it is easier to avoid the lens).
    Well first they have no choice but to put it on the back for this they get plaudits just for having it, but they put it by the side of the lens, why? Because next year they could move it underneath the lens and again get plaudits for this 'improvement' by which time everyone has forgotten that the back of the phone is a borked 'good enough solution'. Why underneath the lens? Because next year they can further improve it by moving it away from the lens. They will of course get more plaudits for this continual striving for perfection. But why didn't they put the sensor on the back of the phone to begin with? Obviously it's a crap place for a sensor.
    chasmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 17
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,725member
    chasm said:
    Though why Samsung opted to put the fingerprint sensor right next to the camera lens remains a mystery (other Android phones sensibly move that sensor away from the camera so it is easier to avoid the lens).
    Last year it was next to the camera.   This year it’s below the camera unit (a small improvement).

    lhopefully they will do a comparison between Siri and Bixby.  Siri should easily win.
    chasmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 17
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 1,090member
    The S9 is a joke.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 17
    evilutionevilution Posts: 1,356member
    Top news! Lesser security is faster.
    Much like having no lock on your front door will allow you to get in your house quicker.

    I’d rather have security and a short wait thanks.
    radarthekatpropodredgeminipabonobobwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 8 of 17
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,591member
    I thought the trick was to swipe straight away instead of waiting for FaceID to complete. 
    StrangeDaysJFC_PAwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 17
    Rayz2016 said:
    I thought the trick was to swipe straight away instead of waiting for FaceID to complete. 


    FaceID unlocks the phone when my face is in line of sight and I just glance at it. It is pretty quick. If I don't do anything, the screen shuts off as usual.

    When I want to open my phone, I start swiping up straight away and FaceID unlocks the phone as the home screen comes into view. It is pretty seamless.

    I've had no problems unlocking the phone in pitch dark situations also.

    It's only at angles that I wish FaceID was better. It doesn't seem to unlock if both, the phone and I, are horizontal, like lying on the bed. I need to align it vertically to my face to unlock.


    redgeminipawatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 17


    lhopefully they will do a comparison between Siri and Bixby.  Siri should easily win.
    I wouldn't be so sure, this is a comparison of Bixby and Siri:


    Siri is nearly seven years old, bixby is a year old.



    singularity
  • Reply 11 of 17
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,358member
    Nice comparison. Theoretically, Iris scanning should be more secure, but getting the level of Detail needed for security while simultaneously haven’t speed and convenience isn’t really practical for a smart phone right now. Maybe isn’t the future - who knows? I think Apple has done an admirable job with the iPhone X FaceID system.

    BTW - whatever happened to that Vietnamese company Bkav (?)  that claimed to spoof FaceID? The released a couple videos that claimed to trick it with a mask but also seemed to be covering up steps in the process, making the claim suspect. SInce then I’ve seen and heard nothing, making me think their claim was a sham.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 17
    MplsP said:
    Nice comparison. Theoretically, Iris scanning should be more secure, but getting the level of Detail needed for security while simultaneously haven’t speed and convenience isn’t really practical for a smart phone right now. Maybe isn’t the future - who knows? I think Apple has done an admirable job with the iPhone X FaceID system.

    BTW - whatever happened to that Vietnamese company Bkav (?)  that claimed to spoof FaceID? The released a couple videos that claimed to trick it with a mask but also seemed to be covering up steps in the process, making the claim suspect. SInce then I’ve seen and heard nothing, making me think their claim was a sham.
    Even if their method worked, it required a literal mold of his face. I bet attention awareness was either turned off, or they placed the phone perfectly in front of the mask so the eyes were directed at the iPhone. No one is going to go through the trouble to kidnap someone, get a physical mold of their face, and use it to unlock the users iPhone with it. It would be more effective to torture that person into giving them the passcode before going that route.

    Even then, the user wouldn't stand still enough for them to get a mold of their face unless they were put to sleep. Now once they have the mold, they better get it perfectly right within a couple of tries or else Face ID will be disabled until you enter the passcode. As you can see in Bkav's video, they added to and altered the mold near his nose. Unlocking an iPhone X using a mask is completely unrealistic. 
    watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 13 of 17
    roakeroake Posts: 638member
    chasm said:
    Though why Samsung opted to put the fingerprint sensor right next to the camera lens remains a mystery (other Android phones sensibly move that sensor away from the camera so it is easier to avoid the lens).
    Well first they have no choice but to put it on the back for this they get plaudits just for having it, but they put it by the side of the lens, why? Because next year they could move it underneath the lens and again get plaudits for this 'improvement' by which time everyone has forgotten that the back of the phone is a borked 'good enough solution'. Why underneath the lens? Because next year they can further improve it by moving it away from the lens. They will of course get more plaudits for this continual striving for perfection. But why didn't they put the sensor on the back of the phone to begin with? Obviously it's a crap place for a sensor.
    Word of the day: “plaudit”.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 17
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    MplsP said:
    Nice comparison. Theoretically, Iris scanning should be more secure, but getting the level of Detail needed for security while simultaneously haven’t speed and convenience isn’t really practical for a smart phone right now. Maybe isn’t the future - who knows? I think Apple has done an admirable job with the iPhone X FaceID system.

    BTW - whatever happened to that Vietnamese company Bkav (?)  that claimed to spoof FaceID? The released a couple videos that claimed to trick it with a mask but also seemed to be covering up steps in the process, making the claim suspect. SInce then I’ve seen and heard nothing, making me think their claim was a sham.
    Even if their method worked, it required a literal mold of his face. I bet attention awareness was either turned off, or they placed the phone perfectly in front of the mask so the eyes were directed at the iPhone. No one is going to go through the trouble to kidnap someone, get a physical mold of their face, and use it to unlock the users iPhone with it. It would be more effective to torture that person into giving them the passcode before going that route.

    Even then, the user wouldn't stand still enough for them to get a mold of their face unless they were put to sleep. Now once they have the mold, they better get it perfectly right within a couple of tries or else Face ID will be disabled until you enter the passcode. As you can see in Bkav's video, they added to and altered the mold near his nose. Unlocking an iPhone X using a mask is completely unrealistic. 
    It's also possible they actually trained the phone with the mask, when it was still in training. Failing, then unlocking right after is in fact training the phone to consider those failures false negatives.
    watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 15 of 17
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,555member

    Starting with a basic speed test, the S9+ definitely beats iPhone X in delivering a user to the home screen. Apple's iPhone requires users swipe up to reach the home screen after Face ID authentication, an extra step that takes time. Samsung gives you the option to go straight to your home screen when using Intelligent Scan.

    I’m really not sure why I have to explain this to a techie site dedicated to Apple hardware, but no, you don’t. You can authenticate with Face ID at the same as you’re swiping (or even after). Don’t treat it as an extra step because it needn’t be. Gruber has a post dedicated to this:

    all you need to do is swipe up from the bottom. Don’t wait for the lock icon to change — don’t even worry about it. Just swipe up.

    https://daringfireball.net/linked/2017/11/01/face-id-extra-step
    edited March 2018 JFC_PAwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 17

    Starting with a basic speed test, the S9+ definitely beats iPhone X in delivering a user to the home screen. Apple's iPhone requires users swipe up to reach the home screen after Face ID authentication, an extra step that takes time. Samsung gives you the option to go straight to your home screen when using Intelligent Scan.

    I’m really not sure why I have to explain this to a techie site dedicated to Apple hardware, but no, you don’t. You can authenticate with Face ID at the same as you’re swiping (or even after). Don’t treat it as an extra step because it needn’t be. Gruber has a post dedicated to this:

    all you need to do is swipe up from the bottom. Don’t wait for the lock icon to change — don’t even worry about it. Just swipe up.

    https://daringfireball.net/linked/2017/11/01/face-id-extra-step


    And we have a video dedicated to this. 
  • Reply 17 of 17
    analogjackanalogjack Posts: 1,066member
    MrSafari said:


    lhopefully they will do a comparison between Siri and Bixby.  Siri should easily win.

    Siri is nearly seven years old, bixby is a year old.


    I can't believe that Bixby can open and start the stopwatch which is just about all I ever want Siri to be able to do.
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