September 22, 2017

Apple iPhone’s Face ID Vs Touch ID Comparison: Which Is Better And More Secure?

At the recent iPhone event, Apple unveiled a new feature called ‘Face ID’ which allows users to unlock their iPhone simply by looking at it. Face ID is not an additional security mechanism to the way your phone already works. It’s a replacement because the iPhone X does not have the home button necessary for the fingerprint-scanning Touch-ID system. Unlocking your phone with your face isn’t exactly new. Android has had the feature for a while, and Samsung has used a special iris scanner since the Galaxy Note 7. But Apple is doing things very differently.


Since Apple announced its Face ID feature for the iPhone X, there have been a lot of questions about its security compared to a fingerprint-sensing, phone-unlocking Touch ID. So, in this article, we take a look at Apple’s Face ID Vs Touch ID comparison, detailing which one of the two is better or more secure than the other.

What is Face ID?

Face ID, as the name implies, uses four sensors embedded in the front of the iPhone X to scan a user’s face and then unlock the phone. During the launch event of iPhone X, Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller said: “Face ID learns your face” and can adapt to recognize changes in the user’s appearance.

Apple’s Face ID Vs Touch ID Comparison:

Face ID more secure than Touch ID

Apple says that with Touch ID, there was a 1 in 50,000 chance of unlocking for the wrong fingerprint whereas Face ID is even better: it has just a 1 in 1,000,000 error rate. The chance of a random person being able to unlock a device is one in a million, though a doppelganger or a twin might trick it. That’s a pretty staggering increase, by anyone’s standards.

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Face ID works with different Appearances & different environments

Face ID also works in pitch dark environments thanks to the Flood Illuminator found in the TrueDepth camera. However, there is more to it. Apple has developed a powerful AI (Artificial Intelligence) and neural network based system which regularly adapts to your facial changes. For an instance, the Face ID would be able to recognize you if you wore a hat, glasses, or even if you grew a beard, or if you have changed your hairstyle. But wear gloves and see, Touch ID is out of the game completely.

Face masks And Pictures don’t fool Face ID

Apple’s smart software and precise hardware can clearly distinguish between your real face and a picture of it. So, unlike the existing face identification technologies, it is not easy to cheat the Face ID.

Apple says that Face ID cannot be even fooled by someone wearing a mask. Apple has even worked with Hollywood specialists to test mask attacks. Face ID has a capability to detect Hollywood-grade masks and won’t unlock your device until it sees your real face.

Whereas, there have been numerous reports by security researchers outlining how Touch ID can be fooled by reproducing fingerprints.

Face ID only works when your eyes are open:

Face ID only works if your eyes are open and you’re looking directly at the camera. This is a sensible security feature to prevent anybody lifting your phone while you are asleep. Touch ID can be used by someone placing your thumb on the Home button and access your device. With Face ID, your eyes have to be wide open and you are definitely likely to wake up if someone tries to open them.

And if someone forces you to unlock your iPhone, just look away or close your eyes to prevent unlocking. Additionally, a quick click of the Side button 5 times disables Face ID, and require a passcode from there on.

Secure Enclave for Face ID:

None of the data on your face and its structure ever leaves your iPhone to the cloud, meaning Apple never sees it either, just like Touch ID.

How does Face ID work?

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The TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X is made up of several different elements, all of which combine to make your 3D facial image. An infrared camera, dot Projector, flood illuminator, Apple’s own specialized hardware, proximity and ambient light sensors,  all of which map the face with 30,000 invisible dots flashed on the visage. That information feeds the iPhone X’s neural network, which creates a mathematical model of the user’s face.

The infrared camera then sends the data directly to the ‘Secure Enclave’ within the iPhone X’s A11 Bionic processor chip. Here it is checked against the pre-scanned image to ensure that the correct face is being seen. If a match is found, the phone is unlocked, all within a blink of an eye.

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