OnePlus brought face unlock feature to its smartphones with the launch of OnePlus 5T last year. The feature is found on its newest flagship OnePlus 6 and has been released to older models including OnePlus 5, OnePlus 3T and OnePlus 3 via software update.
OnePlus’ face unlock mechanism relies on the front-facing camera and software algorithms instead of using sophisticated technology like depth sensing and 3D face mapping found on Apple’s iPhone X. The Chinese smartphone maker explicitly mentions that its face unlock feature is less secure than the fingerprint sensor. While the underlying tech relies only on the selfie camera, the face unlock mechanism has been found to be really fast.
I printed my face to unlock my OnePlus 6 for the lulz… it worked ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ pic.twitter.com/rAVMq8JKBr
— rik (@rikvduijn) May 29, 2018
Now, it has been found that it is relatively easy to fool the face unlock mechanism on OnePlus 6. Twitter user who goes by the handle @rikvduijn posted a video where he demonstrates OnePlus 6 being unlocked with a paper cutout of his face. The method has been found to work with a black and white photo as well. In the video, one can see that Rik’s friend holding a photo of his face, which looks like a selfie clicked with a smartphone and the OnePlus 6 immediately grants access to the device.
OnePlus has reportedly deployed a custom software solution for its face unlock mechanism from Chinese startup SenseTime. However, it was only a matter of time before someone managed to break the feature. OnePlus 6 is not alone here. Security researchers have demonstrated how easy it is to fool the IR scanner found on Samsung’s flagship smartphone.
UPDATE: OnePlus has responded with a statement in connection with the issue – “We designed Face Unlock around convenience, and while we took corresponding measures to optimize its security we always recommended you use a password/PIN/fingerprint for security. For this reason Face Unlock is not enabled for any secure apps such as banking or payments. We’re constantly working to improve all of our technology, including Face Unlock.”
Watch: OnePlus 6 First Look Video
OnePlus, at least, gets a benefit of doubt here, for stating it clearly that the face unlock system is not as foolproof as the fingerprint sensor. OnePlus 6’s face unlock is really quick and does commendable job when it comes to recognizing its owner, but users must keep in mind that the device can be unlocked by someone looking like you or someone holding your photo.