Samsung Galaxy S10 phones are finally official, and they come with the gorgeous Infinity-O holes that show where the selfie camera is pierced through the screen. Samsung stayed away from copying the iPhone X design last year, which was surprising considering that all other smartphone makers did, but now the results are paid. The Infinity-O screens certainly give a new shot to any screen designer who wants it.
Are they better than notch displays like on iPhone X / XS? It's up to debate and it's probably a matter of personal preference. Both are design compromises that are meant to offer us the best screenshots in all contexts of today's technology limitations. Both steal part of the screen from you while giving you more screen than previous phones. And finally you will get used to one. I personally favor the Infinity-O screen design in check, but it's a big feature missing from the Galaxy S1
In the months that followed the launch of the iPhone X, some things became clear. First, the iPhone X notch design, as much as it was criticized, was a winning move from Apple and one that everyone in the business would copy. But only a few companies were able to copy the Face's ID ID functionality, and almost no one could reduce the lower chin that Apple does on the iPhone X and its successors. Secondly, Face ID was far more sophisticated than any face lock system from the competition in terms of security. And third, nobody else was ready to bring Face ID options to Android.
I was initially cautious about how Face ID would work in real life and whether it would slow down my iPhone experience. With the Touch ID, you will unlock the phone as soon as you reach it and you were ready to go. But as soon as I got the iPhone X back in November 2017, I was pleasantly surprised to see how fast the technology is. More than a year later, I wouldn't go back to Touch ID, even though Touch ID and Face ID were both available on the same iPhone.
I know not everyone is a fan of Face ID, and some continue to have problems with it. A simple explanation for this is that you may be using it incorrectly. You don't have to think about unlocking the phone. Just swipe up on the screen and the phone is almost instantly unlocked – I realize it's annoying not to unlock the screen while sitting on the desk, but there's a slight downside (and it's completely eliminated if you're using a wireless charging stand like this one). The second explanation is that the phone does not work if you get constantly unsuccessful scans, which means you may need to get it serviced or replaced.
But after more than 14 months with iPhone X I have had a positive Face ID experience. It works during the day and night, and it works no matter what I wear. The only issues I encountered with face recognition were while I was skiing. But even then, instead of entering the tab when Face ID fails, try to retrain it to learn your "new" face. It will only work afterwards. It works even better and faster on the iPhone XR and iPhone XS phones launched last year.
This brings me to the Galaxy S10, a phone I suspected for a long time that it could not offer 3D face detection. There is simply not enough space inside the hole punch section for all the sensors you need for 3D face scanning. Samsung Wednesday confirmed what we suspected, that the face lock on the new phones will not even support iris scanning, and it will only rely on 2D scans to unlock the screen. That means you won't be able to use it to open secure apps or to authenticate mobile payments.
If you've never experienced Face ID on the iPhone and you're a fan of the fingerprint scanner, you're thrilled to hear that the sophisticated in-display fingerprint sensor technology we've heard of for so long was also confirmed. The Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10 + phones have ultrasonic scanners that are safer than optical. That's because they use sound to authenticate users instead of light, making them less susceptible to hacking. Not that hacking smartphones with optical scanners are a simple feat, although Google allegedly studies the safety of optical fingerprint sensors on the display, and looks at adding native Face ID support to Android Q.
Samsung's ultrasonic on-screen sensor will offer fast and secure authentication and support for payments. They will also work fine through screen protectors as long as Samsung has certified them, despite what you may have heard. It's a signature feature in the Galaxy S10 line and a reason to go to the more expensive Galaxy S10 or Galaxy S10 + instead of the Galaxy S10e, which doesn't have an in-display sensor.
But, assuming for a moment that the move from iOS to Android is one I might consider, I still don't want to dike Face ID in favor of any version of a fingerprint sensor. Given that Apple's Infinity-O monitors manufacturing patents appear before Samsung presented its Infinity-O display technology, it also means Apple has been looking at screen design like the one on the Galaxy S10.
It's not just because of the convenience of Face ID when it comes to my interaction with a smartphone. It is also because 3D face recognition paves the way for future security, where devices around us can provide continuous passive authentication based on 3D scans of faces and organs. Think beyond the iPhone X and iPad Pro. Future computers and smart home systems will be able to recognize the user and give him or her the right permissions without the person having to do anything at all. Now, if only someone figured out how to place all of these face ID sensors and cameras underneath the screen, we don't even need to compare notes to hole punch designs.