Samsung defends its Note 7 iris scanner

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Samsung defends its Note 7 iris scanner


An employee demonstrates the iris scanner on the Galaxy Note 7 during a press event at Samsung Electronics’ building in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, on Thursday. [NEWSIS]

Koh Dong-jin, president of Samsung Electronics’ mobile business, stressed that the iris-scanning technology in the company’s new Galaxy Note 7 phablet is the “most secure” among any available on the market, during an event Thursday to unveil the product to the Korean media in Seoul.

When a reporter raised concerns that hacked iris data could be used for illegal financial transactions, Koh responded that people’s irises are unique and remain set when they are between 18 and 20 months old.

“Even twins have different irises,” he said, “and irises differ between the left and right eyes.”

Koh added that a user’s biometric information is not saved in a regular folder within the device but in a secure folder, which he described as “the safest place.”

The Note 7 is the first Samsung device to come with an iris scanner for unlocking the phone and accessing a mobile banking service called Samsung Pass. Three Korean commercial banks - Shinhan, Hana KEB and Woori - are launching iris-scanning features for customers with a Note 7 on Aug. 19, the day shipments of the device begin.

Kiwoom Securities also announced Thursday that it would allow customers to buy and sell stocks with Samsung Pass without having to go through notoriously cumbersome steps such as entering a password of at least eight digits to get a log-in certificate.

The media event in Seoul came nine days after the tech giant showcased the phablet to a global audience in New York.

“The Galaxy Note 7 is receiving lots of upbeat expectations from within Samsung,” Koh said. “We think the phone has opened a new chapter in the global smartphone market, and I am cautiously predicting a success after seeing even the most negative U.S. media outlets have given it a positive assessment.”

He said the company is considering a 128-gigabyte model specifically for the Chinese market. When Samsung first introduced the Note 7 in New York, it said the device would only come in a 64-gigabyte model.

“Chinese smartphone manufacturers are staging aggressive marketing with high-storage products,” Koh said. “We are now deliberating on whether adding a 128-gigabyte model will be the right decision, because when models are diversified, it’s hard to manage inventory.”

Although Samsung is the world’s No. 1 smartphone maker, it has been struggling in China, where it was the sixth-largest mobile device manufacturer last year, according to Counterpoint Technology Market Research.

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