The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 hit the stage for its grand reveal at Samsung’s Unpacked event today, and members of the media are on site to get their first hands-on fixes with the Next Big Thing. Some members of the press have gotten their hands on the device and put at least one of the new features through its paces. An iris scanner on a phone is nothing new, but Samsung is hoping to bring the feature to the mainstream by making it a headliner on their new flagship. According to Android Central’s experience with the iris scanner on the Galaxy Note 7, however, it may not be quite what it should be, just yet.
Much like when fingerprint scanners hit the scene and weren’t on a majority of flagship devices just yet, the first, and biggest annoyance with the Galaxy Note 7’s iris scanner is the lack of software support. For now, the iris scanner cannot replace the fingerprint scanner outright because most software that could use it for authentication doesn’t support it yet, and Samsung has not patched in anything that would allow it to send the same signal as a successful fingerprint scan, if such a thing is possible. That means that it can’t be used to make purchases, authenticate most private apps, and the like. While it can be used to unlock the phone, which is the biggest role for most biosecurity measures on phones these days, once the phone is unlocked, it can only be used with Samsung’s official apps, including a “secure folder” for your files.
The iris scanner worked well enough in practice. It works by illuminating your eyes with infrared light to make life easier for the camera, and works quite well and quickly, even through glasses. The Galaxy Note 7, fortunately, still has a fingerprint sensor that can do all of the things that the iris scanner isn’t allowed to do just yet, and it works a bit faster than the iris scanner. Using Android Pay, authorizing Google Play, using PayPal, and other similar features will still work with the fingerprint scanner. The iris scanner may get a bit more support in the future, and perhaps even full integration at some point like the fingerprint scanner got with the advent of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but for now, it’s mostly a proof of concept.