Update: While some suggested this might just be a demo mode thing, that approves anything vaguely resembling a face, CNET confirmed on its review unit that the device is indeed fooled by photos.
We tried it on our own Note 8, and sure enough, it’s still possible to fool it with a flat photo. A Samsung rep tells CNET that the company’s guidance: You’ll want to use the fingerprint sensor or iris scanner for security, and should view facial recognition as a convenient alternative to the simple swipe-to-unlock gesture.
Web developer Mel Tajon was able to unlock the device using a selfie taken on his own phone, and even using people’s Facebook profile pics …
Tajon tweeted a video using demo devices (below).
He does note on his website that there are three possibilities here.
- The Note 8’s facial recognition tech is actually good and Samsung made a crappy demo… But why would anyone do that?
- The Note 8’s facial recognition tech is bad and they faked the demo intentionally, just like how Samsung faked performance benchmarks in the past.
- The Note 8’s facial recognition tech is bad and the demo is proof of that.
With the S8, Samsung did tacitly admit that its face recognition system wasn’t very secure, by stating that it wasn’t good enough to be used for Samsung Pay. In contrast, rumors suggest that Apple will be launching the iPhone 8 next week with a face recognition system which will be used in place of Touch ID for its own payment system, Apple Pay.
You can watch the demo unlock below.