iPhone Security

apple-faceid-image-from-appledotcomiPhone Security: a reader asks…

I’m looking at the new iPhones, it’s time for an upgrade from my old 5S. I’m considering the 8 or the X (on the Apple upgrade plan which I’m planning on switching to). I know it’s going to be a lot bigger than my trusty 5S and I’m prepared for that, but I’m a little bit concerned about the FaceID thingy in the X – I remember seeing a year or so ago that facial recognition could be easily fooled by a photograph. But really, is the FaceID better than my fingerprint?

Umm, in Apple’s words, yes. Apple says that fingerprint recognition is good enough that only 1 in 50 thousand people could use the same fingerprint to unlock a phone. For FaceID, it’s 1 in a million. You probably read the photograph-fooling news when it was talking about Samsung’s anemic facial recognition. Apple’s FaceID is nothing like that, instead using 3-D image capture with 30 thousand points to map your unique face.

The recognition software is smart enough to not be fooled by changes in hair, hat, glasses, beards, etc. and still recognize you, while not letting anyone else get into your iPhone. Caveat: this is all what Apple says – until there are iPhone X’s available for testing (perhaps early November?) nobody but Apple knows for sure. I am reasonably trusting of Apple, they’ve been pretty good about sticking to their word in general. Yes, the devil’s in the details and there are so many details! But in general, I believe the iPhone X will perform facial recognition at the level of security they are saying.


iPhone-Touch-ID-image-from-apple.comThat’s not to say that TouchID on the iPhone 8 is a slouch, it’s generally better than just about any other consumer option, both in placement and in accuracy. Coupled with iOS’s default 10-tries-and-we-lock-the-phone security setting (on by default), there’s virtually no chance that someone who stole your iPhone would be able to gain access.

Of course, there are scenarios where that won’t apply, such as a robber forcing you to unlock your iPhone before they escape, or police forcing you to do the same. In that type of situation, nothing will stop them from getting into your phone unless you yourself couldn’t get into it (so, no).

So since your’e not considering the iPhone 8 Plus, I’m guessing that a huge change from your 5S isn’t in your future. Just a note though, the screen size on the iPhone X is about the same as on the much larger iPhone 8 Plus, thanks to the new edge-to-edge display. I’m betting that once you’ve tried an iPhone with a huge screen, you’ll never pine for your small iPhone again, and the X gives you that without having to nearly double the size of your smartphone.

apple-iphone-2017-lineup-screenshot-from-appledotcomIt sounds like sales of the iPhone 8 aren’t nearly as big as Apple expected, so you might be able to get one relatively soon. For the iPhone X, it will be available for pre-order as of midnight PST on October 27th, with the first units shipping on November 3rd. My guess is that it’s going to be in serious short supply, so if you’re not quick (and lucky), you could be waiting months to actually get your hands on one.

Lastly, one nice thing about buying your iPhone from the Apple Upgrade program is that AppleCare will be included (unlike buying from your carrier). Given how expensive these devices are, and how easily they could be broken, I think AppleCare would be a necessity for just about everyone.

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