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Comparing Hand ID vs Face ID Phone Security

In addition to PINs, phones increasingly offer biometric security features. Options like Apple Face ID, Apple Touch ID, and the LG Hand ID are supposed to offer better protection than PINs, but are they really all they’re cracked up to be? Here we’ll discuss the merits of Face ID vs. Touch ID.

Apple Face ID

Apple Face ID replaces the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the iPhone X. Face ID maps your face by using a unique pattern of 30,000 invisible dots. The phone camera reads the dot pattern by projecting infrared light onto your face, creates an infrared picture, and compares the photo to your Face ID data pattern to see if your face is the one authorized to unlock the phone. Face ID uses infrared light so you can use Face ID even in low light conditions. 

The system used for Face ID is called the TrueDepth camera, and the ability to process and match 30,000 biometric points is possible thanks to the iPhone X’s A11 Bionic chip. Your stored Face ID data is protected in the Secure Enclave.

To use Face ID, you simply position your face in front of the front camera, moving the phone slightly until it senses your Face ID data pattern and unlocks the home screen.

Apple Touch ID 

Apple touch ID, Apple’s previous biometric security system, is a high-end fingerprint sensor. Once Touch ID has a recording of your fingerprint, you can unlock the home screen by placing your finger lightly over the Home button. 

Touch ID data, like that of Face ID, is stored in the Secure Enclave. 


Face ID vs. Touch ID

Of the two systems, Apple Face ID offers better security. Apple Touch ID would sometimes fail to identify a fingerprint if the finger was wet or sweaty. Minor cuts and abrasions could also prevent proper identification. In comparison, Apple Face ID can still recognize your face if you wear glasses or a hat. Face ID will even correctly identify users who grow beards after inputting their facial data points. 

Face ID cannot be fooled by high-quality masks, printed photos, or video of your face. Apple Face ID will also not open if your eyes are closed, so no-one can open your phone while you sleep.

Apple is fond of saying having an identical twin is the only security risk to Face ID and estimates that the risk of a random face opening your protected phone is one in a million. In contrast, the possibility of a random fingerprint opening Apple Touch ID is one in 50,000. 

LG G8 Hand ID and Air Motion

Hand ID is the LG G8’s contribution to biometric security. While Apple Touch ID uses images of fingerprints, Hand ID uses the Time-of-Flight camera and its infrared sensor to map the veins on your hand. This produces a complex, personalized pattern that should be almost impossible to duplicate. Once set up, Hand ID combines with the LG G8 Air Motion function, allowing you to unlock your phone by moving your hand over the screen without touching it. 

Other Face Mapping Systems

Google’s Pixel 4 also has a facial unlocking feature that works similarly to Apple Face ID and has essentially the same security benefits. At the lower end of the security, the scale is Android’s Trusted Face. Formerly known as Face Unlock, Trusted Face uses a simple picture of your face, which can be spoofed using a printed picture. Of the biometric systems here, Trusted Face is definitely the least secure.

Whether you choose to use Apple Face ID vs Touch ID, Hand ID, or the Pixel 4’s facial unlocking system, be sure to also use a numeric code as a security backup. If your phone allows the option, a 6-number PIN is more secure than a 4-number code. The more protection your data has, the better.