How Touch ID Could Make iPhone Safer

Or maybe just more convenient

Key Takeaways

  • Rumors that Apple will include an in-display version of TouchID in the iPhone 13 have been making the rounds.
  • While many like FaceID, they find TouchID to be more convenient, overall.
  • When comparing the two, experts say there are some security concerns with both, but ultimately a phone that offers both FaceID and TouchID would be best.
Someone holding a smartphone over a laptop with a biometric fingerprint scan prompt on the phone screen.
PeopleImages / Getty Images

Not only is TouchID considered more secure, but it’s also more convenient than FaceID, making it a must-have for the iPhone 13.

Rumors are that TouchID could return to Apple’s smartphone lineup with the iPhone 13, bringing an in-demand feature back to the device. While FaceID has proven easy to use, concerns over just how secure it is, plus the added convenience that TouchID gives users, has left many wanting for the biometric system to make a return.

"Apple’s decision to remove fingerprint authentication was because of form factor above all else," Ray Walsh, a privacy expert at Pro Privacy, explained to Lifewire in an email. 

"The company preferred not to include a fingerprint scanner into the frame or on the back, and for this reason, it did away with TouchID in favor of FaceID. However, it seems that Apple has now developed in-screen fingerprint sensors that work quickly enough to make them viable on the iPhone 13."

At Your Fingertips

One of the main reasons that many want to see a return for TouchID on the iPhone 13 has nothing to do with security. Instead, it’s all about convenience.

According to a SellCell study, 79% of more than 2,000 iPhone users surveyed wanted to see TouchID return as an in-display fingerprint reader in future Apple devices. Much of this comes down to convenience.

While you can use FaceID to unlock your phone just by looking at the screen, you also can run into errors, depending on whether you’re wearing a mask or even if the lighting isn’t bright enough for the camera to get a good look at your face. 

A person with a facial scan overlay looking into a scanner on a smartphone.
Khosrork / Getty Images

While Apple has added features to help mitigate some of the errors, the fact remains that TouchID doesn’t require any extra steps to unlock your phone if you’re covering your face for any reason.

Of course, you do run into possible issues when your fingers are wet, cut, or if you’re wearing gloves. This means both options have their own downsides.

"With the health hazards of the pandemic still looming over our heads, I wear a mask every time when I go outside," Darren Dean, founder of WipeLock, told us in an email.

"When I want to use my iPhone 11, I have to take off the mask to unlock it with FaceID, which is dangerous, especially when I‘m in crowds." 

"If I don't do that, I have to swipe up the screen and enter the passcode to unlock it. This is a bit annoying. However, for an iPhone with TouchID, it's simple to unlock by placing a finger on the home button. This is why I use my iPhone 7 when going outside."

Locked Down

At a surface level, it might seem like TouchID is a no-brainer. After all, fingerprints are more unique than facial details, right? We’ve already seen in the past where Apple’s FaceID technology could be fooled by twins, something that Apple has worked hard to minimize.

"The problem with facial features is that they're often not wholly unique," Rex Freiberger, CEO of Gadget Review, told us in an email. "You may know someone who just ‘has one of those faces,’ meaning they look like any other random person off the street."

"Apple’s decision to remove fingerprint authentication was because of form factor above all else."

While many experts on the subject have concerns about the security of FaceID, Apple says the chance of someone being able to unlock your phone using FaceID is 1 in 1 million—unless you have an evil twin, of course.

This security is all relative, though, as there will also be situations where either system could be abused. 

That’s why many experts recommend using a longer password instead of always relying on TouchID and FaceID to secure your phone. Despite any security concerns with the two systems, there is a place for these biometric securities on the iPhone. Experts like Allan Borch say that both are secure enough for general use.

"Apple’s TouchID and FaceID are generally secure and basically work in the same way. Pairing both makes for a redundant, invisible security system. Whichever one unlocked first would open your phone, making errors much more uncommon," Borch said.

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