When it comes to phone security, I think that every smartphone should require a password, whether it be a pin, password, pattern, facelock, or fingerprint lock. There are so many ways to protect the data on your phone with varying degrees of simplicity and security. And depending on your security needs, you can choose the appropriate type of password. For me, I just need smartphone security that will prevent strangers from access my phone. I really don't mind if my friend glances, sees my password, and logs in.
Pin - In my opinion, this is the most balanced between security and easy of use. Since there are only 10 digits to choose from, I don't have to worry about fumbling around the QWERTY keyboard of 26+ keys.
Password - Utilizes every character you want. Even special characters. This is one of the safest forms of passwords, but does require more effort due to the vast number of keys.
Pattern - Another easy way, but less secure than pin, and not all that easier. The main problems I feel with pattern is a streak is sometimes left on the screen revealing your pattern. Also, I've noticed as the smartphone gets older, it loses sensitivity along the pattern, especially if you haven't changed the password in awhile.
I ultimately end up choosing pin for being easy to type in and somewhat more secure. Being on Android 4.4.2 and a Samsung Galaxy S3, the one thing I really hate is the UI on the Pin input screen. On the iPhone, I type in their pin and the screen unlocks. On Android, I type in my password and have to click an additional button before I'm let in. Yes, it's a very small distinction, but for some odd reason, I find the iPhone method much more friendly and intuitive.
So being Android, I'm off to the races to find a suitable lock screen app. A lock screen is an app that can replaces my Android smartphone's built in lock screen. After downloading a lock screen app, set your smartphone's password to none to avoid having to type in 2 passwords. The two lock screen apps I want to cover are SlideLock and GO Locker.
GO Locker is a sensible lock screen app given Go Launcher is my default launcher. Similar to other GO apps, this one allows customization. However, without spending a lot of money, most of the locker themes are subpar, buggy, and all-in-all not usable.
SlideLock Locker, on the other hand is a very clean interface. It covers a pin password, with large numeric buttons, and without requiring an enter button. The lock screen displays notifications (accessible by double tapping) and audio player art. Part of SlideLock is displaying floating notifications at any screen. One that that is missing is a timeout before a password is required, which is convenient if your screen turns off when you're reading a document and you don't want to type in the password.
At the end, I decided that SlideLock was the best lock screen app for my Samsung Galaxy S3. The floating notification was a bonus feature that wasn't expected, but turned out to be highly useful.