Phone security is a necessary nuisance, like going to the dentist or doing tax returns. Biometric security solutions like fingerprint sensors, facial mapping and iris scanning can take the slog out of keeping our mobile devices locked down, but they’re only useful is they’re speedy and work every time. With the Galaxy S9/S9+, Samsung’s managed to work out the kinks in its biometric offerings, and now we can’t imagine life without them.
With data breaches, security flaws are dodgy social media apps all putting our personal information at risk you’d think people would be more careful with their phones, given how much sensitive data they contain, from our banking details and work-related documents to our email and personal photos. Nonetheless, we still meet people (sometimes we’re even related to them) who don’t even bother with a four-digit PIN on their handset. Madness, we know.
It starts with a touch
Fingerprint sensors are now commonplace on even mid-range phones, and they’re an excellent way to authenticate yourself to your phone. Samsung’s fingerprint sensor has done a lot of moving around over the last few generations of devices, from the front below the screen, to the rear next to the camera, to beneath the camera. On the S9/S9+ not only is the sensor easier to use because it’s centred on the rear cover (and thus less likely to result in you putting greasy fingerprints on the camera lens), but it’s learned a new trick: finger-specific security.
Registering multiple fingerprints to a device is nothing new, but Samsung’s latest handsets also let you set a specific finger to unlock your secure folders. We like this feature far more than we thought we would, and it’s actually got us using the Samsung Knox secure folders we’ve long known were there, but previously didn’t take the time to set up.
The Galaxy S8/S8+ introduced us to iris scanning, but we found it a little inconsistent, especially when wearing glasses or in low-light conditions. For its latest devices, Samsung’s bolstered the range and accuracy of its iris scanning tech and its added something new: facial recognition.
Samsung calls this combination of iris scanning and facial recognition “Intelligent Scan”. Lift your phone to your face and Intelligent Scan will start off by scanning your mug and comparing it to the mug it has on record. If that fails, it’ll move on to the iris scanner. In the unlikely event neither of those work, you’ve still got your trusty fingerprint to fall back on. But what’s impressed us is how seldom we’ve need to turn to a digit, even when its practically pitch dark.
For now, Intelligent Scan can’t be used for things like online banking, because Samsung admits its not convinced its sufficiently secure yet. But the company is working to change that. “Going forward, Samsung plans to integrate Intelligent Scan support into a wide range of applications, beginning with Samsung Pass. Adding this functionality to the app will allow users to enjoy the same streamlined security when entering website logins and other sensitive information within the Samsung Internet mobile app,” its website reads.
Recently gotten your mitts on a Galaxy S9 and haven’t set up Intelligent Scan? We’d seriously suggest you reconsider. Just make sure your fall-back PIN or passcode is super memorable, because you won’t be using it much.
If you’d told our young, 3310-wielding selves 15 years ago we’d be unlocking our phones with a glance or a fingerprint today we’d have laughed at you. We were, however, totally expecting the hover boards would’ve arrived by now. Hey Samsung, how about you work on those next?