Facial recognition doesn't work as intended on 42 of 110 tested smartphones

Devices from Asus, BlackBerry, Huawei, Lenovo, LG, Nokia, Samsung, Sony, and Xiaomi failed a basic "photo test."
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor

A Dutch non-profit has tested 110 smartphone models and found that the facial recognition feature used for locking devices doesn't work as intended on 42 phones.

The study, carried by Consumentenbond and its international partners, found that holding up a photo of the phone's owner is enough to unlock 42 of the tested smartphones.

Any photo will do, such as ones obtained from social media, CCTV footage, or other means.

The results of this study are worrisome. Using a printed photo of the owner's face is the first test that regular users, pen-testers, and attackers alike would use to break into a facial ID-protected smartphone before they move to try more complex attacks that involve creating masks or 3D printed heads of the phone's owner.

Any facial recognition system that fails "the photo test" is usually considered useless.

According to Consumentenbond, models from Asus, BlackBerry, Huawei, Lenovo, LG, Nokia, Samsung, Sony, and Xiaomi failed such tests.

Apple devices, known for their strong facial recognition feature, survived the tests with their reputation intact, as expected.

The full list of 42 smartphone models that failed the photo test is below:

  1. Alcatel 1X
  2. Asus Zenfone 5 Lite 64 GB
  3. Asus Zenfone 5, ZE620KL (64 GB)
  4. BlackBerry Key2
  5. BlackBerry Key2 (US version)
  6. BQ Aquaris X2
  7. BQ Aquaris X2 Pro
  8. General Mobile GM8
  9. HTC U11+
  10. Huawei P20 (EML - L29)
  11. Huawei P20 Lite
  12. Huawei P20 Pro (CLT - L29)
  13. Lenovo Motorola Moto E5
  14. Lenovo Motorola Moto E5 (BR version)
  15. Lenovo Motorola Moto E5 Plus (BR version)
  16. Lenovo Motorola Moto G6 Play
  17. LG K9 (LM-X210EMW)
  18. LG Q6 Alpha (LG-M700n)
  19. Motorola Moto G6 Play (BR version)
  20. Motorola One
  21. Nokia 3.1
  22. Nokia 3.1 (US version)
  23. Nokia 7.1
  24. Oukitel VU
  25. Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)
  26. Samsung Galaxy A8 (32GB) (SM-A530F/DS
  27. Samsung Galaxy A8 (64 GB)
  28. Samsung Galaxy A8+ (SM-A730F)
  29. Samsung Galaxy J8 Brasil
  30. Sony Xperia L2 (H3311)
  31. Sony Xperia L2 (H3321)
  32. Sony Xperia XZ2 (H8216)
  33. Sony Xperia XZ2 (US version)
  34. Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact (H8314)
  35. Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact (US version)
  36. Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact Dual SIM (H8324)
  37. Sony Xperia XZ2 Dual SIM (H8266)
  38. Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium (US version)
  39. Sony Xperia XZ3
  40. Vodafone Smart N9
  41. Xiaomi Mi A2
  42. Xiaomi Mi A2 (32GB)

The following six devices also failed the photo test, but their facial recognition system also featured a "strict" mode that when enabled did not fail the same test again.

  1. Honor 7A
  2. LG G7 thinQ
  3. LG G7 thinQ (US version)
  4. LG G7 thinQ Dual SIM
  5. LG V35 ThinQ (US version)
  6. LG V40 ThinQ

The list of devices that successfully passed the photo test includes:

  1. Alcatel 3V (5099D)
  2. Alcatel 5
  3. Apple iPhone XR (128 GB)
  4. Apple iPhone XR (256 GB)
  5. Apple iPhone XR (64 GB)
  6. Apple iPhone XS (256GB)
  7. Apple iPhone XS (512GB)
  8. Apple iPhone XS (64GB)
  9. Apple iPhone XS Max (256GB)
  10. Apple iPhone XS Max (512GB)
  11. Apple iPhone XS Max (64GB)
  12. Asus Zenfone Max Plus (ZB570TL)
  13. Honor 10
  14. Honor 7C
  15. Honor 8X
  16. Honor View 10
  17. HTC U12+ (EU version)
  18. HTC U12+ (US version)Huawei P Smart+
  19. Huawei Y6 (2018) (ATU-L21)
  20. Huawei Y7 (2018)
  21. Huawei Mate 20
  22. Huawei Mate 20 Lite
  23. Huawei Mate 20 Pro
  24. Lenovo Motorola Moto G6 (32GB)
  25. Lenovo Motorola Moto G6 (64GB)
  26. Lenovo Motorola Moto G6 (US version)
  27. Lenovo Motorola Moto G6 Plus
  28. Lenovo Motorola Moto Z3 .US version
  29. Lenovo Motorola Moto Z3 Play
  30. Lenovo Motorola Moto Z3 Play .US version
  31. Motorola Moto G6 (BR version)
  32. Motorola Moto G6 Plus (BR version)
  33. One Plus 5T
  34. OnePlus 6 (128GB)
  35. OnePlus 6 (256GB)
  36. OnePlus 6 (64GB)
  37. OnePlus 6 (US version) (64 GB)
  38. Oppo Find X
  39. Samsung Galaxy A6 (32GB)
  40. Samsung Galaxy A6+ (32GB)
  41. Samsung Galaxy A6+ (64 GB)
  42. Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)
  43. Samsung Galaxy J6 (2018)
  44. Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (128 GB) (EU version)
  45. Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (128 GB) Dual SIM (BR version)
  46. Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (128 GB) Single SIM (EU version)
  47. Samsung Galaxy Note 9 SM-N960U1 (US version)
  48. Samsung Galaxy S9  (SM-G960F/DS)
  49. Samsung Galaxy S9  SM-G960U1 (US model)
  50. Samsung Galaxy S9 256GB
  51. Samsung Galaxy S9 dual (128GB)
  52. Samsung Galaxy S9+ (SM-G965F/DS)
  53. Samsung Galaxy S9+ 256GB
  54. Samsung Galaxy S9+ dual (128GB)
  55. Samsung Galaxy S9+ Single SIM
  56. Samsung Galaxy S9+ SM-G965U1 (US model)
  57. WIKO View 2

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