Huawei Mate 20 Pro's 3D face unlock feature is not half as safe as Face ID

Repeated tests were run including trying a second unit only to return with the same result.

Face unlock has quickly become a common feature on Android phones in 2018. While most of them use 2D face unlocking methods, a few companies like Huawei and Xiaomi have gone the Apple route and introduced 3D face unlocking on their phones.

The recently announced Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the first attempt by Huawei that incorporates a 3D face-scanning method which, in theory, works identically the same way as Apple's Face ID. However, a recent discovery by Android Pit suggests that the Huawei Mate 20 Pro's 3D face recognition can be unlocked by a person with some resemblance to the original owner of the phone.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro features an in-display fingerprint scanner.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro features an in-display fingerprint scanner.

As per the report, a review unit of the Mate 20 Pro was being passed around in the office for everyone to catch a glimpse of the phone. During this, a second person with a slight resemblance to the original user was able to unlock the phone using the Face unlock feature.

Repeated tests were run including trying the second unit only to return with the same result.

Huawei's excuse is that they issue a disclaimer saying that their 3D face unlock feature is currently insecure. That though fails to answer the question of how two people with similar features (they were not twins) were able to unlock the same phone.

Two people with similar features were able to repeatedly unlock the Mate 20 Pro. Image: Android Pit

Two people with similar features were able to repeatedly unlock the Mate 20 Pro. Image: Android Pit

The report adds in this case, there are a few key features separating both persons although they are full-bearded and have short hair. The two men have different skin colours, different contours and also eye colour. That's not all. One of them also wears glasses while the other one doesn’t.

Both the Mate 20 Pro units use the same software version, with build number 9.0.0.113 (C432E10R1P16). Since both the units were pre-production variants, the easiest explanation here could be that they both feature software which may not be rolled out with the units sold commercially.

Either way, Huawei is yet to officially state anything addressing the issue.

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