Using Face Unlock with the OnePlus 5T

When the OnePlus 5T was first announced, one of its crowning features was the 6.01-inch 18:9 AMOLED display. In addition to the new display, the smartphone also offers a new Face Unlock feature, that allows users to unlock their display instantly, just by using their face. This technology is nothing new, as facial recognition has been seen in Android handsets before, but the execution has always been quite poor. Surprisingly, the OnePlus 5T nails this and it is quite impressive.

It is incredibly easy to set up, only requiring around ten seconds to register a face. You don't need to move your head around, as it creates a map using the front of the face. Once this is complete, you can start using Face Unlock. During my few days with the 5T, the Face Unlock feature has been a surprising joy to use. The speed at which it unlocks is extremely quick and on top of that, it has quite a wide range of angles it can be utilized, meaning that you don't need to be perfectly aligned with the phone like the Apple iPhone X.

While it can't detect your face in pitch black darkness, it still can unlock the handset under fairly low lighting conditions. It can also unlock the handset if the user is wearing glasses or other accessories. If you do decide to use the feature, you'll find that a majority of the time, Face Unlock will kick in before you are even able to unlock the handset using the fingerprint reader. Although I wouldn't fully rely on it, since there are rare times that it can fail, it is a convenient option to have when coupled with the fingerprint reader. OnePlus has done an excellent job of making this feature work well and it hasn't spilled the beans on the technology behind it.

While our own Rich Woods tried to get more information about it at the 5T release event, the staff in attendance were unfortunately unable to shed details since they weren't actually OnePlus employees. Luckily, the firm would later disclose some of the details through its forums. Since the 5T had to relocate the fingerprint reader to the rear, the firm felt that it needed to give its users a new and convenient way to unlock the phone. This is how the Face Unlock feature was birthed, capable of unlocking the device in 0.4 seconds. The company has acknowledged that it isn't the most secure method and that is why it has not enabled it as an option for apps that hold important data like Android Pay.

But, despite this, there are certain measures that have been put in to place that at least attempt to protect the user and the contents of the phone. Face Unlock works by using the front camera to analyze and identify over 100 points on the face. It can do so in different conditions and also if the face is obscured with glasses or other items. The technology also validates that the camera is scanning a human, rather than just an image of that person, by using numerous checks, one of which is 3D scanning. If it fails five times, Face Unlock is deactivated, requiring the use of a fingerprint or security code to unlock the phone.

While Face Unlock is pretty good in its current state, OnePlus is always looking for ways to update and improve the feature. Although it has many ideas it will look to implement, one that is currently in the works is for it to get a better understanding of the face when it is being analyzed. It will eventually understand whether light is being emitted from a face, like from a display, so it can thwart false entry into the OnePlus 5T. For the meantime, this is a fun, easy, and quick way to gain access to the device and if the firm can build on its current platform, there is a chance that it could be one of the first Android manufacturers to bring a secure and quick option to the masses with future iterations.

I'd like to extend a big 'Thank You' to the folks at GearBest who supplied the OnePlus 5T for this review. If you would like to purchase the 5T you can head to the OnePlus website or you can pick it up from GearBest.

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