Face Recognition vs Fingerprint: 10 Key Differences to Know

From the beginning of biometric recognition system, fingerprint is the most reliable recognition system around the world. Many law enforcement agencies, banks, institutions and private organizations choose fingerprint biometric over other modalities. But, with the advent of biometric technology, more technologies are breathing down fingerprint recognition’s neck.

Face vs Fingerprint
Face vs Fingerprint

The most prominent recognition technologies are facial recognition, iris scanning, and voice biometrics to name a few. We are hearing a lot of news about face recognition vs fingerprint these days. So, we will try to break down the differences between face recognition and fingerprint biometrics today.

  1. Accuracy: Fingerprint recognition is a highly trustable system in terms of accurate measurement. But, it also has some drawbacks and fails to analyze perfectly in several cases like rough environment. Dirt, grease to employee’s fingers are very common in this type of situation. Additionally, if any damages occur to a person’s finger, he will be definitely in deep water.

Face recognition system works differently. It analyzes from multiple aspects including the placement of eye, cheeks, ears etc. that brings the lowest error rate in this modality. Furthermore, it is getting very popular throughout the world in recent days and implemented in many countries including US, Canada, China, Australia etc.

  1. Cost: Biometric technology, more specifically fingerprint recognition is undoubtedly a very effective solution to fight against the intruders. But, it is also true that the price of this solution is expensive and unaffordable for many small companies. Apart from the software, a company also has to buy high-quality fingerprint device separately.

Face recognition doesn’t require high-end cameras. It can work with the regular cameras such as mobile phones, tablets, webcams etc. which are integrated without any cost and available to public.

Because of the affordability, face recognition is way ahead than fingerprint.

  1. Distance: Subject should be in touch with the device to be enrolled in fingerprint recognition system.

The subject will stand a near distance to be enrolled in face recognition system.

  1. Agreement: In fingerprint system, people will be enrolled in the process by own consent. The enrollment will take place when they put their finger on the device.

In face recognition system, people may be enrolled in this process even without their permission. Many governments including Russia start collecting face biometric from public places without declaring any announcement.

  1. Contact: Fingerprint recognition is a contact based solution where people need to touch the device to be enrolled.

Face recognition system is a contactless solution. It doesn’t need any contacts from the subject.

  1. Usability: Fingerprint recognition is mostly used for authentication and identification process such as it would be used in school, college or office for the enrollment process.
  2. Acceptability: Fingerprint is moderately acceptable in some place.

Facial recognition is highly acceptable in everywhere.

  1. Uniqueness: Fingerprint recognition is highly distinctive and unique. It will not match with one another, not even with the twins.

Face recognition system can be confused in case of the twins.

  1. Template size: The template size of the fingerprint is medium. On the other hand, the database of facial recognition is large.
  2. Stability: Fingerprint technology is highly stable and persistent regardless of age. Face recognition system isn’t as stable as the fingerprint.
  3. Subject details: Fingerprint has low subject details as the scanning part is relatively small. In contrast, face recognition has highly exposed solution, thanks to the face.
  4. Disability: Fingerprint can be damaged or completely lost due to accidents and lot of us aren’t enough fortunate to have all the fingers. In this case, this solution won’t help them out, moreover, they will face odd situation in public places.

Contrary to that, facial recognition is highly universal and compatible with almost everyone. It would be hard to find any person without a face.

  1. Essentiality: Fingerprint technology is highly essential for identification and authentication process.

Facial recognition is highly important for surveillance and public applications.

  1. Hardware: Fingerprint recognition needs extra hardware apart from the software. But, face recognition can be performed without any extra hardware. Mobile camera, CCTV is enough to complete face recognition process.
  2. Buddy Punching: Fingerprint technology is being used as a top arsenal for fighting with buddy punching problem for ages. Companies are still facing this problem and lost a high amount of money annually. A report says that buddy punching costs employers $373 million annually.

On the other hand, facial recognition is a complete package and it is hard to forge a facial recognition device. Employees have to attend physically in front of the device to enroll them.

Examples of Facial Recognition Deployment

We can safely guess that it is just the beginning of face biometrics era. Applications of face recognition are continuously growing all over the world. Airports in the most developed countries already adopt this technology to faster the immigration process and tighten the security.

It is highly convenient and cost effective too. The top examples of facial recognition deployments are including:

Examples of Fingerprint Recognition Deployment

Fingerprint recognition is an old school method but still highly effective. This technology is being used in many countries for ages in order to capture criminals, building national database and improving the security of your gadgets.

The top examples of fingerprint recognition deployments are including:


  • Many police and law enforcement agencies in many countries including USA, UK, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand etc.
  • National ID database
  • Smartphone unlock
  • Laptop unlock etc.


So, what we can understand from this discussion is both the recognition system has its own advantages and disadvantages. They suit in different areas and one cannot be other’s replacement.

When fingerprint recognition technology has been using by law enforcement for decades, facial recognition comes to provide the mass surveillance technology recently.

We can safely say that these two technologies will be more sophisticated and faultless within time as the market demand is skyrocketing constantly around the world.

This is all we have about the discussion of face recognition vs fingerprint. Please share your thoughts in the comment box. Thanks for being with us.

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