Whenever a significant new technology is incorporated into mainstream mobile phones, such upgrade should naturally be fair game for scrutiny and critique. Conversely, if by objective standards the new arrival clears all bars, I can think of two reasons why it feels critical to acknowledge the innovative work done by its originators: because for one that credit has been hard earned and – looking at the bigger picture – sowing doubt about a feature that will inevitably saturate most phones in the market is only going to needlessly unsettle the consumer in the long run.

If you haven’t paced ahead and done it already, let’s apply this general sentiment to the introduction of Face ID and how it has resonated with large parts of the online community. Is it being treated fairly? Is the outrage over twins apparently being able to dupe the security system a flash in the pan or a real head scratcher? And, outside of Apple centric outlets and communities, is Face ID being given a fair rap?

Most major tech outlets would have you believe Apple really dropped the ball implementing Face ID

I’m excited to read your opinions below, but having rummaged iPhone X related articles for about a week, my impression is that Apple are largely being shortchanged for the remarkable feat of engineering they pulled off with Face ID. My rationalization of this discrepancy is two-fold: the golden rule of journalism that reporting controversy affecting a large user base will drum up more excitement than covering a feature that works as promised, and of course adherents of other brands fervently jeering and gloating as though Face ID (and iPhone X by extension) was an expensive dud (#FaceGate).

Since I stopped concealing my opinion on the sometimes petty coverage of Face ID a few paragraphs ago, allow me to dig in my heels even deeper at this point and give you a few reasons as to why exactly I think the drama is off-base and largely fabricated.

It just works

Listen to the lucky few who already have gotten ahold of an iPhone X and nine out of ten times you will hear nothing but amazement about Face ID. It’s fast, secure and effortless. For what it’s worth, yes identical twins seem to be able to trick the system under certain circumstances. All the same, it is a bit of a storm in a teacup bearing in mind multiple ways to circumvent this ostensible security threat (as per below). By now we have also learnt that there is a Settings switch to access the phone even faster while still using Face ID, meaning there is a good deal of customization to ensure every user gets the most out of the experience.

There is still the passcode! 

Amidst the fear mongering, what’s often conveniently overlooked is that the back up to Face ID – the old school passcode option – is still in place and a viable alternative for Face ID if you either don’t trust the technology or, for some (statistically very improbable) reason, it does not work as envisioned. When Touch ID made its debut on iPhone 5s four years ago, it was somehow less frowned upon to resort to the passcode screen whenever a Touch ID reading would fail.

Touch ID arguably started out less accurate than Face ID’s first iteration. 

Speaking of the former and now abandoned gatekeeper to your device’s home screen: remember Touch ID on the iPhone 5s? I do, and for me it was nothing short of flaky. Balmy hands? Access denied. Grain of sand on the sensor? Access denied. Using the wrong finger? Go again, pal. Some of those hiccups in fact persist to this day.

None of these issues will befall Face ID and, what’s more, it is only uphill from here in terms of detection speeds and any possible quirks discovered by the millions of users. Software (and hardware) updates will come in thick and fast, making tactile authentication a thing of the past likely in the next 1-2 years.

Apple is spearheading unparalleled consumer technology

I’m not usually a big fan of the if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything mantra: if companies put out shoddy tech, by all means naming and shaming should be the name of the game. That being said, the finesse and ingenuity behind Apple’s TrueDepth camera (projecting 30,000 dots on your face in order to code and decode a unique depth map) should make anyone, partial or impartial to Apple, stop and acknowledge the commitment to innovation and security Apple demonstrably holds.

If any other player in the market had a similar or better technology on the shelves, it would be warranted to moan or sneer at hiccups, but the simple, unassailable fact is that this is not the case. It is equally misguided to trot out the ‘Welcome to [insert a year between 2009 and 2015], Apple’ platitude, as neither Android’s simplistic face detection nor Samsung’s iris scanner play in the same league as Apple’s complex Face ID technology.

None of this is me making apologies for a perhaps still imperfect Face ID, however it is my argument against irrational and overbearing flack against it. Whenever I come across indifferent or negatively tinged articles on the iPhone X’s authentication, it makes me squirm just a little bit on the inside.

Why? Because frankly I don’t doubt for a moment that Apple has pioneered something meaningful here, and that it will not be long until the Googles and Samsungs of this world catch on and replicate the technology to a T. And for that, Apple deserves more credit.

  • The twin story is a bit OTT IMO. Its WAY more secure than Touch ID. But since people don’t examine fingerprints the way they do with peoples looks, all this has done is narrowed down the search area to find a compatible match. If you went and asked everyone in the city to rest their finger on Touch ID, you might find a match. If you go and ask everyone in the city to look at Face ID, then the chances are they won’t find a match. If you search for people that look like you, then you might also find a match.

    • :D

      And what are the chances of that one person with the same fingerprint just happening to stumble upon your phone and attempting to unlock it?

      • therealjjohnson

        accordingly to apple…higher than the chance of someone who happens to look just like you stumbling upon your phone, picking it up, and looking into the sensor…

  • Pallav Agarwal

    What a beautiful article. Extremely well written. Kudos.

  • M_Hawke

    Yeah, I agree that I don’t understand the hoopla. My HP notebook has had face recognition for sometime before Face ID showed up. Works fast. Didn’t hear any controversy about that.

    That would be funny for an iPhone X owner to resort to passcode because he didn’t trust the technology. All that money and getting The Notch for nothing. Sort of.

    • Leopoldo Pereira

      “Apple is not the first as my HP notebook has had face recognition with Windows 10 Pro for sometime before Face ID showed up” Oh, jeepers here we go again. ROFL!

      • pjs_socal

        Yep, and it sucked and it wasn’t secure. Typical Windows.

      • M_Hawke

        What do you mean? Have you tried it? It works great. Fast. If you haven’t tried it, you’re just as guilty of gnashing of teeth as the Face ID critics.

      • M_Hawke

        Here we go again, what?

      • Leopoldo Pereira

        Oh, nothing! LOL

  • Cerberus The Wise

    Honestly don’t understand the scrutiny. It’s proven to be more reliable and secure than Touch ID under most circumstances. Yes it’s not perfect, but biometrics in general aren’t; they’re a trade off between security and convenience. Anyone who is truly serious about their privacy will just stick to a passcode, like they have for Touch ID.

  • Jurassic

    There is a general malaise suffered by some people when it comes to Apple, its products, and users of its products.

    In the comments sections of some blogs and articles dealing specifically with Apple’s iPhone, or other Apple products, there are disparaging remarks from, almost exclusively, Android users/fans.

    The reactive, aggressive, and often juvenile comments that attempt to denigrate Apple, its products, and its users, come from insecure people who feel threatened by the existence of a high quality product and ecosystem that is different (and in many ways objectively better) than the one they chose for themselves.

    Alternatively, it’s not that often (if at all) that you will come across iPhone users going out of their way to waste their time writing insulting comments attacking Android phones and users on Android blogs and articles. When you are happy with the product you have chosen for yourself, there is no need to defend your ego by attacking others. In the few cases you might find, those iPhone users may be just hitting back after reading derogatory comments about them from Android fans.

    But those Android fans, feeling uncertainty (and probably also regret) about the alternative they have chosen for themselves, try to build up their own egos by attacking others who have chosen differently, and who are very happy with the Apple product they have chosen.

    Those negative reactions are one of the strongest indications (in addition to Apple’s financial success, the huge numbers of products the company sells, and the highest customer satisfaction ratings from its users) that Apple has developed and introduced another highly successful product.

    In a way, iPhone users should take comfort in the reinforcement that these senseless criticisms and irrational insults represent. ?

    • Leopoldo Pereira

      You have no idea what I’m capable of. I love to provoke fandroids. They’re funny when they’re angry. LOL

    • Steffen Reich

      Good closing statement to my article, well said.

  • pjs_socal

    This the Apple double standard at play.

    Here’s another one:

    The Google Pixel 2 gets rave reviews for making a great camera. This, despite the fact than the Pixel 2XL has a garbage display and the Pixel 2 has iPhone 8 size bezels.

    Meanwhile, the iPhone X ships a better camera than the Pixel 2 (at least for still images according to DxOMark). The iPhone X also has the best display ever, a 50% faster processor, plus groundbreaking 3D facial imaging and biometrics. The response? Much of the tech press disses it.

    In other news, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus get trashed for having the same size bezels as the regular Pixel 2.

    WTF? Has the whole world become Fox News?

    • Manny Fresh

      Or rather has the whole world become MSNBC? It’s Android users see themselves as more tech savy and more progressive than Apple users, especially with the social atmosphere at Google Inc.

      • pjs_socal

        Sorry pal, fandroids are Trump supporters.

    • Leopoldo Pereira

      LOLed at Fox News!

  • The Pool Man

    Hi. Elephant in the room. Paid Troll Farms.

    I have an Android phone and whenever said phone makes ONE misstep the forum boards are flooded with new users who can barely speak English but can trash said phone in the same manner. I don’t accuse on Apple user of doing this. What’s going on is so transparent it’s sad.

    Then you’ve got the fanboy dorks of either platform. Who do not speak the least bit objectively. They’ve clearly taken a side and eloquently post biased crepeola. Their condescension makes them real assicholes.

    The matter at hand: face unlock instead of a front facing fingerprint sensor. I bought my first Android phone (OnePlus 3) because it included the front sensor. They’re about to announce it’s going to be a goner and have some sort of front facing cam. This is why I’ll most likely not buy it.

    Any child can explain to you that a front facing button allows you to unlock the phone without picking it up. I’s as simple as that. And personally I don’t want to have the camera to have an excuse to be on.

  • jbelkin

    It’s a feature – it’s intended to provide convenient security but look, the bottom line is a $10 knife held to your loved one will get you to unlock your phone – so unless you have 10 clones but youre the one with the KFC secret recipe, as long as it prevents a random stranger from stealing your phone and using it (as wit iphone 1- 4), then it’s ALL GOOD – like that mask company making one of yourvface, I have BIGGER ISSUES if someone is secretly making a mask of my face … BTW, the front page of the WSJ is talking about how insecure te NSA is/was – a secret agency that denies it exists had a bunch of computer files and apps stolen so my expectation is if it works good enough, good enough.