Apple’s iPhone X was released earlier this month, and so far the reception has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, we might actually make it through an iPhone launch without a “gate” this year. There isn’t anywhere near as much complaining going on this year, which is pretty surprising considering how much of a departure the iPhone X is from earlier iPhone models. A few niggles have popped up over the past couple of weeks though, and the two main things some users seem to take issue with are the “notch” and Face ID.
Face ID is a huge step forward for mobile security, and Apple’s rivals are undoubtedly already scrambling to add similar solutions to their own flagship phones. In fact, my own sources have told me that Samsung is working on an enhanced facial recognition feature that it plans to debut in smartphones next year.
Several phones already have a more elementary form of facial recognition, and the new OnePlus 5T can now be added to the list. And while Face Unlock isn’t anywhere near as secure as Face ID on the iPhone X, it does have one big advantage over Apple’s solution: It’s insanely fast.
People don’t seem to dislike Face ID on the iPhone X, per se, but there has been plenty of rumbling about unlock speed. Whereas Touch ID unlocks are practically instantaneous in the technology’s current iteration on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, Face ID takes a few beats to authenticate.
Face ID isn’t really slow in general, but it feels slow because of how fast other technologies can unlock a phone. But compared to Face Unlock on the OnePlus 5T, Face ID feels like it takes a year to unlock the iPhone X.
According to OnePlus, Face Unlock uses more than 100 unique identifiers to unlock the OnePlus 5T, and it reads them using the phone’s standard front-facing camera. The solution is absolutely nothing like Face ID on the iPhone X, which beams 30,000 infrared dots onto a user’s face, maps them using an infrared camera, and continuously updates its data each time Face ID is used.
OnePlus knows that it’s sacrificing security for speed, however, and it positions Face Unlock as a convenience feature rather than a security feature. It’s for people who want to unlock their phones in an instant without fumbling around for the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. In fact, it’s called “Face Unlock” for a reason — all it can do is unlock your OnePlus 5T. In order to authenticate mobile payments or unlock secure apps like banking apps, you’ll need to use the fingerprint reader, a PIN code, or a passcode.
I’ve only spent a short amount of time testing the OnePlus 5T so far, and I shared some quick thoughts in my hands-on preview. The larger display is nice and the software updates seem useful so far, but Face Unlock is definitely the thing that stands out in my mind as the coolest new feature. When I hold the phone and press the wake button, Face Unlock unlocks the phone instantly. Most of the time I don’t even see the lock screen. In fact, I had to turn the phone away from me and press the wake button to confirm that Face Unlock was actually enabled. It’s seriously that fast — you don’t even see it.
Of note, since Face Unlock blows right past the lock screen, there’s a nifty new gesture to make notifications more easily accessible. When enabled, you can simply swipe down on the fingerprint sensor while on any screen and the notification pane will open.
Again, in terms of security and technology, the OnePlus 5T’s Face Unlock isn’t even in the same ballpark as Face ID. But for those who are more concerned with convenience than security, Face Unlock is going to blow you away.