How to make face unlock more secure in the Samsung Galaxy S10 line

Samsung Galaxy s10e hands-on

Samsung’s Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, and S10e are packed to the brim with everything and anything you’d want in a phone. Everything, that is, except the kind of secure face unlock technology that rivals Apple’s Face ID. The S10 and S10 Plus instead use an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor under the display as a secure biometric authentication method, while the S10e relies on a sensor on the side of the phone.

All three phones do have a face recognition feature that scans your face to unlock the phone, but unlike the iPhone, Samsung states this technology is not secure — it’s purely meant for convenience. It’s fast and indeed a handy way to unlock the phones, but in its default state, it’s incredibly easy to fool.

Setting up face recognition

If you want a secondary way of unlocking your phone, you can enable face recognition by heading to Settings > Biometrics and security > Face recognition. Now when the screen on any of the S10 phones turns on, you’ll notice a light circling the hole-punch camera (the selfie camera floating on the screen at the top right). This means the camera is looking for your face, and once it finds it, the phone will unlock. You can set it to jump straight to the home screen by toggling off Stay on Lock screen.

The problem is the technology is very basic, and that means it’s not very secure. A simple trick of showing the camera a photo of your face — printed out or on another phone — will fool it to unlock the phone. Just take a look at our test in the tweet below:

We’ve pointed images of our face toward the Galaxy S10’s selfie camera, and it never fails to unlock. That’s a little alarming, even if Samsung does state clearly that facial recognition isn’t secure. Face recognition on the S10 series will still never be secure enough to use as an authentication method for sensitive apps, but there is a way to make it less easy to spoof.

Slightly more secure

In Settings > Biometrics and security > Face recognition, toggle off Faster recognition. What this does is make face recognition a little slower but a little more secure, so it won’t be fooled with just a photo of your face. Next to the Faster recognition option, it does warn, “Faster recognition improves speed but reduces security, increasing the possibility of a video or image being incorrectly recognized as your face.”

We’ve turned it off and then tried to spoof it with the same test as before, but the phone wouldn’t unlock whatsoever. The difference in speed is also negligible. Now, we’re not saying it won’t be susceptible to any kind of spoofing, but it should offer just a little bit more peace of mind if you still want to use face unlock.

Ultimately, if the security of Samsung’s face recognition worries you one bit, it’s likely a better idea to not use it at all, and just stick to the fingerprint sensor.


Verizon’s 5G is blazing fast on the Galaxy S10 5G, if you’re on the right block

The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is finally here, and we went to Chicago to test its 5G connectivity capabilities on Verizon's 5G network. Like with the Moto Z3 and Moto Mod, service is still limited, but it's super fast.

The best bezel-less phones cut all the right corners without losing space

As the smartphone industry marches toward a bezel-less future, we compare the shrinking bezels on the latest and greatest devices. Find out which manufacturers have the smallest bezels on their smartphone as we compare them side by side.

Get ready for 5G speed: The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G has landed in the U.S.

Samsung announced a whopping four new Galaxy S10 devices, from the low-cost S10e to the triple-camera S10 and S10 Plus. But it's the Galaxy S10 5G that steals the show, as it's the first 5G-ready smartphone to hit the market.

SanDisk’s $450 microSD card adds 1TB more storage to your Surface Pro

Need more storage for your Surface Go, Surface Pro 6, or Galaxy S10? You're in luck, as SanDisk's microSDXC Extreme card is now available for purchase, allowing you to add 1TB of storage to your device for $450.

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.

Grab it as soon as it pops up: The OnePlus 7 Pro is now available for sale

The OnePlus 7 Pro has been revealed, and it's a monster of a phone with a stunning redesign, a pop-up selfie camera, powerful flagship specs, and a price that's hundreds of dollars less than the competition.

The Realme X is so cheap and so good that it defies the rules of economics

The Realme X has a 48-megapixel camera, an in-display fingerprint sensor, an AMOLED screen, and a Snapdragon 710 processor, yet it costs from $220. We've tried out the phone to see if it's too good to be true.

Mad U.K. retailer slashes 99% off Google Pixel 3a price for a few lucky buyers

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.

How to use recovery mode to fix your Android phone or tablet

If you’re having a problem you can’t seem to resolve with your Android device, or maybe you want to update it or wipe the cache, recovery mode could be what you’re looking for. Here's how to get your Android phone into recovery mode.
Home Theater

Why you can’t buy Car Thing, Spotify’s first hardware device

Spotify created a voice-activated, in-car device that lets you listen to music and podcasts. But Car Thing, as it is known, is not for sale. Instead, it will be used to gather data from a limited set of customers.
Social Media

Be the master of your own Insta-verse with multiple Instagram accounts

Whether you own a small business or have separate Instagram accounts for your five cats, we'll walk you through the process of switching between your multiple accounts on your Apple or Android devices.

Can Apple or Samsung steal the OnePlus 7 Pro's flagship killer title?

OnePlus has long been the go-to for flagship specs under a flagship price. But now Apple and Samsung have challengers in the arena, and they want the Flagship Killer crown for themselves. Who wins? We found out.

Turn your Apple tablet into a laptop with one of these iPad keyboard cases

A keyboard case serves to both protect your iPad and give you a set of laptop keys. You don’t have to shell out tons of cash for a good one, either; if you’re looking for a way to turn your iPad into a 2-in-1 laptop, check these deals…

Google Pixel 4 will reportedly ditch physical buttons and display notch

The Google Pixel 4 will reportedly feature massive design changes, including the removal of clickable power and volume keys in favor of capacitive touch areas. The smartphone is also said to be dropping the display notch.