Opinion

With wearing masks now a daily routine, I miss Samsung’s iris scanner

Samsung gets a lot of things right with its flagships, but in recent years, biometrics haven’t been one of them. The capacitive fingerprint sensor on Galaxy flagships changed positions a few times between the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9, and it failed to be as convenient as the front-facing sensor that Samsung had been using before. Samsung then switched to an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint reader with the Galaxy S10, and we all know that sensor is not as amazing as the company had made it out to be.

Facial recognition is the other biometric solution we find on Galaxy flagships today. However, it’s not something that works all of the time. It also can’t be used for security inside apps because facial recognition with a regular camera is easy to fool. And in our current times, when you can’t step out of the house without a mask on, facial recognition is turning out to be quite useless and making me miss the iris scanner Samsung’s flagships used to have back before the Galaxy S10 came around.

Facial recognition doesn’t work with masks, and that’s quite inconvenient

India has been under lockdown since March 25. Unless you need to buy medicine, grocery, and other essential items, it’s not recommended to step out. But my father had fallen ill a couple of months ago, and though he is almost back to full health now, his recovery phase over the last couple of weeks has necessitated quite a few trips to the hospital. I have been out of the house a lot in recent weeks as a result, both for grocery shopping and for those hospital trips, and wearing a mask has become almost a daily routine for me.

And, well, you probably know where I’m going with this. With facial recognition failing to work with a mask on, I’ve had to fall back to using the fingerprint sensor on my Galaxy S20 Ultra all the time, at least when I’m out. That wouldn’t have been a problem if Samsung was still equipping its flagships with an iris scanner. Sadly, that isn’t the case, mainly because every manufacturer is chasing the dream of truly bezel-free displays, which leaves no space for anything but a regular front-facing camera in our smartphone screens.

The ultrasonic fingerprint sensor works well most of the time, but having an iris scanner would have been a lot more convenient. It would be great if Samsung could implement an option that allows facial recognition to register your face and work with a mask on. That wouldn’t be very secure and could be very, very easy to fool. But desperate times call for desperate measures – we can’t get those iris scanners back, so how about a middle-of-the-road solution that makes unlocking our phones with masks on less of a hassle?

What do you think?

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