Dubbed the best phone in the world (at least until the iPhone 8 launches) Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is a powerful, premium handset with beautiful edge-to-edge display. Like previous iterations of the Galaxy line, Samsung’s flagship phone will set new standards for smartphone design thanks to its large screen and competent performance. But it’s not without its shortcomings, as owners of the S8 are finding out — especially when trying to unlock their screen. Issues regarding phone security dampen an otherwise stellar launch.
The S8 is supposed to be the most secure phone available today. In addition to the typical PIN option shared by every Android and iPhone, the flagship Galaxy comes equipped with facial recognition software and fingerprint and iris scanners. In theory, these additional security measures seem like a great idea. They could be a futuristic treat that makes you think you’re aboard the Enterprise, but they’re still based on 21st century tech, so they can be incredibly frustrating to use.
Fingerprint Scanner Fumbles Security
Not the first on the scene with a fingerprint scanner, the S8 has followed in the iPhone 7’s and Pixel’s footsteps with a convenient button to unlock its screen. Unfortunately, it played too much with the original recipe and it’s become awkward to use as a result. The scanner is located at the top of the back of the phone, far from where your fingers naturally rest when using the phone. You need to stretch your finger in order to reach the unusual position if you expect to unlock it this way.
Its unusual placement doesn’t just make it difficult to unlock. It puts the Galaxy at risk, as you’re more prone to dropping as you undergo digit aerobatics in order to use the scanner. As a result, a growing number of S8 owners are turning to the grip-enhancing Galaxy skins from dbrand. The team at dbrand use a texturized vinyl in all of their products because it’s a material that gives something extra for your palm to hold. You can grab a set of Galaxy S8 skins online. As long as it’s from dbrand, these skins will also protect the phone from cosmetic damages in case you still manage to drop it during an attempt at unlocking.
Iris Scanner Fails to Impress
The fingerprint scanner is annoying yet overall functional. The iris scanner, on the other hand, is plagued with glitches that make it impractical. It’s a very tetchy way of unlocking the S8, even in the best of conditions. Expect to pull some unusual faces as you move the phone in front of your face — which means you might want to hold off on using this particular method whenever you’re in public. The scanner will all out fail when used in subpar conditions, like low lighting or when you’re moving, but it’s easily hacked with some very basic materials, as you can see here.
Botched Biometrics a Dud
Once again, the idea of having your face scanned to unlock your handset makes you feel like you’re in a sci-fi movie, but it’s justmake believe in reality. The biometric scanners fail to recognize your face frequently, yet in a bizarre twist, it will accept a photograph of your face as legitimate. And just like the iris scanner, it needs to be used in the ideal settings otherwise it won’t work at all.
Though relatively small issues, the frequency you encounter them is what makes these security features a significant drawback to the phone. A study at the Nottingham Trent University found the average person unlocks their device 85 times a day. If it were just once or twice, you could ignore the frustrations of having your phone block your attempts to unlock it, but 85 is too many times to overlook the poor integration of these new security measures.
Luckily, there’s a relatively easy fix in sight: the tried-and-true PIN method. You can side-step the facial recognition default for the traditional password tapping technique quite easily without sacrificing any functionality or security. It’s less exciting but it won’t make you want to throw the phone at the wall 85 times a day. We’ll call that a win.