Face ID vs Touch ID — but which is faster?

There are key differences between Face ID on the iPhone X and Touch ID on other devices — facial recognition doesn’t care if you have wet fingers or gloves, while finger print recognition doesn’t worry about you wearing a ski mask — but which is faster?

There’s a 1 in 50,000 chance a random person could unlock your iPhone with Touch ID, Apple says. But there’s a 1 in 1 million chance the same could happen with Face ID. Experts say it’s two years ahead of rival facial recognition systems.

Using an iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X, we pitted Face ID against Touch ID in a number of real-life scenarios, allowing us to determine which system is quicker at unlocking your phone. The results aren’t game-changing by any means — Touch ID seems to be only slightly faster than Face ID — but they are noteworthy, and something to consider if you are thinking of upgrading to Apple’s latest headset.

Overall, however, Touch ID is still faster compared when compared with Face ID, namely because it utilizes quicker technology.

face id, touch id

Face ID doesn’t beat Touch ID in speed, however. Tom’s Guide discovered it takes around 1.48 seconds to unlock an iPhone X with your face, whereas an iPhone 7 Plus can be unlocked with Touch ID in under a second.

Still, Face ID does work as intended, and that is more important than anything else. Plus, will saving a few seconds actually make a noticeable difference in your life? If you’re being honest, probably not. Personal preference obviously plays a big part into what unlocking method you actually prefer, however, and that will factor into your decision to get the iPhone X.

What’s more, Face ID adapts to changes in your appearance over time. It works when you’re wearing sunglasses or a hat, and has no trouble identifying you in the dark. Unlike Touch ID, it also works when your hands are wet.

There are some things you can do to make Face ID faster, though. The first is to ensure the Raise to Wake feature is enabled in Settings. This shaves off precious time by eliminating the need to swipe or tap the iPhone X’s display before you unlock it.

“If raise-to-wake kicks in and turns on the display, all you need to do is swipe up from the bottom. Don’t wait for the lock icon to change — don’t even worry about it,” says Daring Fireball’s John Gruber.

Touch ID only has one step for authentication — scanning your fingerprint. Face ID, meanwhile, has to project infrared dots onto your face, scan those dots, and then authenticate against data stored in the Secure Enclave, a process that adds a small amount of time to the unlock procedure. But the way the iPhone X is implemented, namely as a hands-off security solution, means that Face ID can actually be faster in practice than Touch ID.
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