iPhone X: Face ID Has Its Faults [Opinion]

Daryl Deino

Using the iPhone X since November 3 has been a pleasure, for the most part, even though the iPhone X isn’t quite the “Jesus Phone” that it was advertised as. Still, the smartphone provides a great camera, decent battery life (considering the phone’s power), a beautiful screen, and a smooth operating experience. However, this author definitely misses having a fingerprint reader.

Earlier this year, Fortune, as well as other sites, reported that Apple was working on an under-the-screen fingerprint scanner. However, it was rumored that Apple couldn’t perfect it in time for a fall release, so they scrapped it. Instead, the iPhone X offers advanced face scanning, which Apple calls Face ID. At first, Apple’s face recognition technology was widely praised.

“What I love most about Face ID is that it’s passive. It works without me needing to do anything, such as place my finger on a fingerprint reader,” claimed Chance Miller of 9to5Mac.

However, unless your face is directly in front of the scanner, it’s not always going to work. A perfect example of this would be when one mounts the iPhone X on the dashboard. Since your face usually isn’t in front of the iPhone, it usually won’t unlock the phone. However, with previous iPhones, all one had to do was touch the fingerprint scanner and it didn’t matter what angle you were doing it from.

Even when you put the iPhone X directly in front of your face, Face ID has a 90 percent work rate. While that sounds great, it should be higher. Unless your fingers are completely greasy, Touch ID has a 100 percent accuracy rate. As Tom’s Guide mentioned last month, Face ID also works slower than Touch ID.

iPhone X Face ID Percent
Face ID on the iPhone works about 90 percent of the time, which is still too low. Featured image credit: Daryl Deino

“With Face ID on the iPhone X, it took 1.2 seconds from pressing the side button to the iPhone X’s screen turning on and for the phone to recognize me and unlock the device. And it was another 0.4 seconds to swipe up to get to the lock screen,” pointed out columnist Mark Spoonauer, adding that getting things working only takes 0.91 seconds with the Touch ID on the iPhone X.

This isn’t to say that the iPhone X’s Face ID technology isn’t impressive — it’s quite scary, but in a good way. It works far better than Windows Hello or facial recognition on Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones (but those smartphones also have fantastic fingerprint scanners). However, it just doesn’t quite replace Touch ID the way it’s supposed to.

If Apple wasn’t able to perfect the under-the-screen fingerprint sensor, they should have at least put one on the rear of the device. They would have been criticized like Samsung was with their rear fingerprint sensor, but at least it would make sure users could be guaranteed to log into their devices 100 percent of the time with their fingers. Perhaps this will be a feature on the upcoming iPhone X if Apple still can’t fit a sensor underneath the screen.