The first questions everyone has are around Face ID. Is it reliable? How fast is it? Do you miss Touch ID?
For the first day of use, Face ID certainly does not feel as fast as second-generation Touch ID, found in iPhone 6s and above, but that doesn’t mean Face ID feels like a step backward, either.
It’s still plenty fast, closer to the original Touch ID, especially if you begin the swipe up motion as you’re lifting the phone up. On the first day, opening the phone seemed to take as long as a blink. But after a day or two, I didn’t even notice a pause – I’d just swipe the screen and my phone would be unlocked, ready to use. Whether Face ID has become better at recognising me in all lighting conditions or I’ve just become more used to the phone I’m not sure.
The times it took longer than a blink were when my face changed. The first time I unlocked the phone without glasses after using it all day with, the phone took a split second longer to let me in. You could almost hear it say “wait a second …”
And perhaps it’s the angle or the movement, but when walking down the street and wanting to glance at the screen, I found I had to stop walking and deliberately look at the phone for it to unlock. This is the one time you miss Touch ID; I’m so used to unlocking the phone before it’s even out of my pocket that the slight pause is noticeable. Apple has assured me Face ID will continually improve as it gets to know me in all lighting conditions and I’d hope that’ll make these moments disappear.
Either way, it’s easily the best facial recognition of its kind. Face ID is faster, more secure, and more reliable than the combination of Iris scanner and facial recognition found in Samsung’s Note8 and Galaxy S8 flagships. It’s somehow way faster than the Windows Hello scanner in the Surface Pro 4, remarkable considering the amount of extra hardware and processing power you’d assume a laptop casing should be able to hold. But then again, the A11 bionic chip inside the iPhone X can best the power of many laptops.
Unlike both the Samsung and Surface sensors, Face ID really does work with my glasses on or off, through sunglasses, in nearly pitch black rooms, or in bright sunlight. And compared to the bezel-less Android phones that moved the scanner to the back of the device, I prefer the look-to-unlock, even with a slight pause, over fumbling around the back for the fingerprint reader.
Where Face ID actually feels faster is when using it to verify yourself throughout the OS. Face ID pops up to autofill passwords saved in your iCloud Keychain, or to open apps previously locked by Touch ID, like password managers or banking apps, and when purchasing in the App store.
The vast array of cameras and sensors powering Face ID are also used to power Portrait Mode selfies, and of course, the ridiculous but fun Animoji.