Nov 11 AT 1:00 PM Edgar Cervantes 29 Comments

Video: Samsung Galaxy Nexus Face Unlock is cool, but is it secure?


The Samsung Galaxy Nexus announcement was filled with excitement and long awaited news. After months of hype and rumors, we got to see everything the device and Ice Cream Sandwich have to offer. One of the most interesting features was Face Unlock, which uses face recognition technology to unlock the device.

This sounds amazing, and it’s definitely cool to show off to your friends. It might be a great conversation starter. But is it really secure? Security is a big deal for smartphone users. These devices hold some of our most important information — credit card info, accounts, social networks, phone numbers, etc.

After taking a look at this new face recognition feature, people have been wondering how safe it is. It sounds like something right out of a spy movie. But the Samsung Galaxy Nexus’s Face Unlock is nothing like that; it’s meant to be more of a novelty, rather than a high security protection system.

There are several ways to bypass the Face Unlock screen. One of the most simple ways to do this is by using a picture. Soyacincautv (YouTube) was at the announcement, and tried this trick out.

Yes, my friends, it seems to work. The user was able to unlock a Galaxy Nexus by using a picture of the person that the device was programmed to recognize (himself). You can see this in action if you watch the video posted below.

Does this mean the feature is not secure? To a certain extent, it isn’t. Like with everything else, there are tricks you can use to get around an obstacle. Is it easy, though? Will a thief be able to do it? The fact is that if your device gets lost or stolen, the person in possession of the phone will probably not have a picture of you or even know what you look like.

The feature is probably still safe enough, unless the person trying to access it is someone close to you. It seems this feature is not as developed as we would hope. It’s very buggy and would not work during the announcement (probably due to the lighting). Google should be improving Face Unlock in future updates and will probably make it more secure, as well.

Check out the video and let us know what you think. What is your favorite way of unlocking your device? Do you prefer security over convenience and fun?

Via: Phandroid

Source: soyacincautv (YouTube)

Hello, I am Edgar Cervantes. I am an avid Android fan, and keeping myself updated on the topic is part of my daily life. I will always work hard to give the best of me to our community of Android enthusiasts, and I am very honored to be part of this ship. Hopefully we can all enjoy sharing our knowledge and opinions!

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  • Healthy

    did people really think this was somehow more secure than a pin/pattern?

    it serves two purposes.

    1. it is a standard type of thing jounalists can focus on. “OOOOH NEWS”
    2. it (hopefully) makes logging into your phone easier, rather than safer.

    If you are seriously worried about security you would avoid this from the start (probably avoid putting anything important into your phone in the first place, truthfully, i wouldn’t use a phone that was linked to my email).

    i mean think of it! what if you are kidnapped! they don’t even have to torture you to get into your phone anymore! they can just point the phone at you!

    • Nate B.

      Not if they brutally beat you up in the face first and then realize they needed your face to unlock it lol. You have to really get in a persons personal space and business to even use their phone and then unlock it. That’s a goal there itself.

    • My name is My name

      Not sure about the spy life that you live but for most of us normal people, we aren’t too worried about being kidnapped and whatever is in my phone is not that serious.

    • AppleFUD

      I wonder if you made a face–wink & stick out your tongue–if that would act like a “face unlock pin?”

    • Droidberg

      if you Live in mexico,then Yea i would worry about getting Kidnapped.. but outside of that i wouldn’t be too worried there mr Bond. ;)-

    • Joe Mama

      dude u lose!

    • Sean the Electrofreak

      Unlocking a pattern lock screen is not difficult. Turn the screen at a steep angle and look for the pattern left by the oil of someone’s fingertip. That seems less secure than a facial recognition system.

  • Nate B.

    Its fun and secure. Think about what a person has to do to get a similar picture of you to match the look you use to unlock it and then get your PERSONAL phone and unlock it. People find a way to complain about anything new. Take it for what it is. I love it. Its new and fun. Works quickly to. The person has a serious issue if they want to carry a damn picture of you around. I’m sure if there is a major difference in detail as far as a haircut from having long hair or something dramatic it won’t work. That’s where the pin works as a back up.

    • CTown

      But what happens when a acquaintance of yours (such as a Facebook friend) finds your phone and uses your profile picture or something? Is that even high resolution enough? I’m probably just being paranoid, anyway…

      • Shanikwa Johnson

        Don’t worry I’m sure none of your friends want to see your cock pics anyway

  • J

    Most people I know turn off the lockscreen passwords anyway – so using face recogniton to unlock is safer then what they use currently.

  • Bendico

    Pinch one eye when seting up the faceunlock. You then have to blink with the same eye to unlock the device. Problem solved.

    • Edgar Cervantes

      LOL, or make a funny face. Stick out your tongue and close your eyes! I am totally going to do that! hahaha

  • @BiGMER F

    Seems like this delay is giving people more and more ways to doubt and find things wrong with the phone.. I hope you are watching google/samsung/verizon… failed lunch

  • The_Diz

    So every time I switch faces with Nicolas Cage i’m gonna have to reprogram my unlock screen?

    • Edgar Cervantes

      You could get another phone for your John Travolta face. hahaha

  • Rick

    I am planning on buying the Galaxy Nexus phone regardless.

    I wished the person showed him actually setting up the facial unlock to his face, then showing him unlocking the phone with the picture. At least when I do buy one, I can answer my own question.

  • Alex

    I realised there’s also another issue with face unlock- what if it’s dark? How on earth do you unlock your phone then?

    • KaiserJay

      The pin/pattern screen appears when it’s too dark

  • Sarah McCormick

    Does it even matter if the lock works or not? since they are apparently never going to release the phone.

  • Geraldo Riviera

    I’d say it’s significantly more secure than the *nothing* I use on my phone right now.

  • Donnieace

    What if someone grabs your phone and unlocks it while you’re passed out from a long night of partying?

  • Ironzey

    IMO It’s strictly eye-candy. I never lock my phone. I might be cool to use something like this for restricted access to app or folders.

  • Postal Jim


    If it doesn’t work flawlessly upon release, so what? I still know how to draw a backwards J, I can remember a 4 digit #, and on a good day, I can even remember an alpha-numeric combo!

    This feature is the very least important thing on this phone. Geesh. They can update and correct/tweak it later. Let’s concentrate on the absolute amazingness of this thing, not a possible glitch somewhere. wow.

  • SirWally

    In other news, Apple, fearful of Android’s novelty Face Unlock feature actually become somewhat useful and secure, files for patents covering facial gestures, thus preventing the ensuing hilarity of people gurning in order to answer a phone call on their Android smartphone.

  • E

    If this feature was on ios it would be flawless and the most innovating thing ever but since its from Android no one can’t except its some thing diffrent and have to go and bash on it …funny how the world works can’t ever please any one

  • Eric R.

    I was unaware that ICS was officially released to the general public yet. There have also been reports of the fella in the video set up face unlock with a recent photo of himself.

    My laptop has a face unlock program from Dell. If it ever fails to recognize me, I just log in manually. As much as I like to cast it aside as a gimmick, it is really nice.

    For fun I have been trying to teach my pc to recognize a picture of me, now it only unlocks for the picture. I find that my pc has limited success recognizing me when I have my glasses on as well.

  • Joseph Banks

    have a smartphone REALLY be smart and have a retina scan or saliva tester by licking the screen. THEN it will be a safer device. lol. DNA baby!!!

  • pritams

    You need to start somewhere…