Galaxy S9 Intelligent Scan Is Different From iPhone X Face ID, Says Security Researchers

Samsung with the launch of Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ is improving its biometrics verification system by introducing Intelligent Scan. This apparently been no match for Apple’s Face ID added in iPhone X’s TrueDepth camera sensor. According to Security Researchers, the world has experienced Face ID, the sub-par iris and Face unlock experience officially offered by Samsung was just not going to cut it, though.

Facial recognition for smartphone security is nothing new, and Samsung does have a chequered past with it. That system used in the Galaxy S8 was actually easy to fool with nothing more than a photograph, and with Apple’s Face ID proving so secure and, notoriously fast, all eyes were on Samsung to see how the Galaxy S9 would fare.

Previously, a security researcher known with a hacking group has exposed the weakness of the Galaxy S8’s iris Scan fooled with a photo and contact lens. Now, Samsung offers four ways of unlocking the Galaxy S9 with biometric – facial recognition, iris scanning, fingerprint scanning, and of course, a combination of iris and face called Intelligent Scan.

From the past to future. Unlike Face ID on the iPhone X notch at the top, using iris scanning on the S8 and Note 8 was not a seamless experience. Samsung also offered face unlock on the Galaxy S8 and Note 8, but even that was far from perfect and struggled to work in low-light scenarios.

With Intelligent Scan available, the Korean company has merged iris scanning and face unlock into one piece to offer more robust and seamless biometric unlocking experience on its latest flagships. The improvements are not really software based though, but Samsung also made improvements to the RGB and infrared camera sensor used by the iris scanner and face unlock which otherwise helped n improving the individual accuracy of both these biometric systems.

It made a lot of noise about Samsung’s improved facial recognition system when the company announced its new Galaxy S9/S9+ flagships. Although that is not entirely accurate. As per the report, Samsung is using the same 2D facial recognition system that is used previously. Beyond that, an attempt to authenticate against both at the same time will be made with the result being that the hardware should unlock more quickly than previous Galaxy S handsets. But it will not be more secure enough. It would also seem that speed of unlocking has been an arm for Samsung this year rather than trying to target security.

“They want to provide some level of security but also make it easy and effective for you to get into the phone,” said Andrew Blaich, a researcher with mobile security company Lookout. “This is probably trying to play catchup with how smooth the user experience is for the iPhone.”

Intelligent Scan vs Face ID

About Intelligent Scan

This is a combination of iris scanning and face recognition Samsung puts in into one to ensure that your phone gets unlocked irrespective of the situation you are in. Samsung has essentially used the strengths of iris scanning to mask the weakness of face unlock and vice versa.

When compared to Face ID, the Intelligent Scan on Galaxy S9 will first try and scan your face. When that fails, it falls back to the iris scanner. If it fails again, Samsung uses a combination of two to unlock your phone. The whole procedure happens very quickly to ensure that there’s no unnecessary delay in unlocking the phone.

Final word after testing it says Intelligent Scan is not as secure as Face ID. For authorizing Samsung Pay transactions or accessing Secure Folder where one keeps their photos and private data, the Galaxy S9 will automatically fall back on iris scanning.

It is unlikely that Samsung’s new biometric verification system is more secure than last year. This can be attributed to the fact that Samsung creates a 2D map of a user’s face with which supply does not have enough data to distinguish between their real face and a high-resolution image.

Versus Face ID

In simple terms, Apple has introduced a better face unlock system on the iPhone X. Indeed, the company’s approach is more complex and secure than anything else on the market today. In fact, Apple uses its TrueDepth camera sensor on the iPhone X to create a 3D scan of a user’s facial pattern comprising of 30,000 invisible points. This eventually makes Face ID far more secure than Samsung’s approach. No wonder then that Apple decided to completely ditch Touch ID and only stick to Face ID on the iPhone X.

It is more secure, Face ID is also faster and more reliable. While Face ID can be fooled using special 3D masks, the process is far more cumbersome and difficult for an average joy to pull.


Intelligent Scan and Face ID are two different biometric aspects, where Face ID on the iPhone X is far more reliable and secure than Samsung’s Intelligent Scan feature on the Galaxy S9. In fact, Face ID is so secure that Apple completely did away with Touch ID on the iPhone X, and it even uses Face ID for authorizing Apple Pay transactions.

With Intelligent Scan, Samsung has merely merged iris scanning and face unlock into one but the individual weakness of both these biometric verification methods remain. As this solution is very much easy to fool and Samsung knows this. No wonder then that only allows iris scanning – which is more secure than face unlock – to be used for authenticating Samsung Pay transactions.

In our next post, we would like to talk about Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. Until then, you can trust what the reports say about Intelligent Scan on the Galaxy S9 no way beat Face ID on the iPhone X in terms of speed, security or convenience, despite Samsung’s best efforts.

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