The Iris Scanner On The Lumia 950 Is By Far The Coolest Way To Unlock Your Phone

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PINs, face unlock, fingerprint sensors and the like have been unlocking our phones for a while now. While fingerprint sensors are just now becoming dominant, there are other options out there. I’ve tried most of them and they all work, but they don’t add much flair. Microsoft on the other hand is taking another approach. With the Lumia 950, they don’t have a fingerprint sensor, rather the company has integrated an iris scanner onto their new phone and it’s all my nerdy dreams having come true.

Both the Lumia 950 and the XL have the iris scanner built in, but on the 950 you’ll find it on the top right corner of the screen. To set it up, go into your settings menu and search for “sign in options”. From there enable Windows Hello and follow the prompts to set up the scanner. From that point on whenever you go to unlock the phone, the iris scanner will light up and scan for your eye in order to authenticate that it’s you who’s unlocking the phone.


In practice, the Iris scanner is pretty amazing. It’s accurate for the most part and it never takes more than a second or two. It’s certainly a bit slower than a fingerprint sensor, but it’s faster than entering a long PIN or password. It even works in the dark!

A few notes regarding the scanner:

  • According to Microsoft, the phone nor Microsoft themselves ever stores and image of your face
  • The system does work with glasses, but you’ll need to remove them during set up
  • The scanner cannot be fooled by an image of a person’s face
  • If you have an identical twin, they cannot unlock the phone using the scanner