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Galaxy S11 might copy the iPhone just like the Pixel 4 did

Published Oct 30th, 2019 10:58AM EDT
Galaxy S11 vs. iPhone 11 vs. Pixel 4
Image: Zach Epstein, BGR

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A well-known leaker said a few days ago that Samsung’s Galaxy S11 design has been finalized, teasing that the leaks will probably soon start. While we have yet to see leaked images or renders of the Galaxy S11 phone, a different leaker has now uncovered evidence that suggests the Galaxy S11 might copy the iPhone just like the Pixel 4 did.

Apple took a major gamble a couple of years ago when it replaced Touch ID with Face ID on the iPhone X, releasing a smartphone design no other Android handset had. The iPhone X’s notched screen was the closest we got to an all-screen smartphone at the time, and it inspired a flood of notch clones in the year that followed. Nearly every major Android vendor but Samsung copied the notch without actually replicating the expensive 3D facial recognition system that Apple placed inside the screen cutout — and none of them were able to extend their screens all the way to the bottom of the phone.

Looking at Apple’s Face ID-related moves in the months that followed the iPhone X launch, analysts said Android makers would need about two years to bring 3D facial recognition support to their own smartphones, and they were partially right. Xiaomi and Huawei did release phones with 3D face unlock back support in 2018, and LG followed in early 2019. But Google needed one more year to launch its first Pixel phone with Face ID-like support.

This brings us to the latest Galaxy S11 rumor that says Samsung might be adding facial recognition support to the Galaxy S11 phones. xda-developers’ Max Weinbach posted his findings on Twitter, saying that Samsung is actively working on facial recognition:

Samsung has had 2D facial recognition cameras on earlier Galaxy S and Note phones, but the company ditched that tech in recent years. It was the kind of half-cocked facial recognition system that could be hacked with photos, which meant it wasn’t secure enough for payment and banking apps.

The fact that Samsung is actively developing new face unlock features must mean it’s working on 3D face recognition. It wouldn’t make sense to bring back a less secure version for the Galaxy S11, especially considering the recent security misstep that made it possible for anyone to bypass the fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy S10 and Note 10. Also, the fact that Google built support for 3D recognition right into Android should come in handy to Samsung and other vendors.

Obviously, this is just a rumor no matter how credible the source might be, and Samsung could always change its mind. But I’ll add that a different leak suggested recently that Samsung might be exploring hole-punch displays featuring more than one opening, which could accommodate 3D face unlock components:

Separately, the same Weinbach found evidence that the Galaxy S11 might come in two versions when it comes to processor choices, just like its predecessors, including the next-gen Snapdragon 865 chip that Qualcomm is yet to announce, and an Exynos 9830 chip.

What’s puzzling about the tweet above is that the Exynos 9830 appears to be a different chip than the high-end Exynos 990 processor that Samsung launched only a few days ago. Samsung is expected to announce the Galaxy S11 at some point next February, so there’s still plenty of time for future leaks to answer these questions and more.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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