How to Unlock your iPhone using Face ID with Mask On?

How to Unlock your iPhone using Face ID with Mask On

Want to Unlock your iPhone using Face ID with Mask On? Here are the best solutions. 

Several indoor locations require the wearing of masks due to the Coronavirus.

There is a problem though: wearing a mask makes it difficult to unlock iPhones.

Among the problems of wearing a mask – in addition to the discomfort caused by the loops – is that it makes Face ID hard to use for unlocking an iPhone.

This applies to all iPhone models from iPhone X onwards, as the iPhone X relies on facial recognition rather than fingerprint recognition (not that fingerprint recognition is difficult when in gloved hands as some opt to wear for shopping).

In April 2020, the iOS update (iOS 13.5) made it possible to disable Face ID and unlock your iPhone using your passcode instead, which helped alleviate some of the frustration.

After iOS 14.5 was released in April 2021, users were able to unlock their iPhones via an Apple Watch. This helped those who had one. Face ID has not been easy to use with a mask, however… not anymore.

Currently in beta, iOS 15.4 features a new Face ID & Passcode setting. The new switch for Face ID with Mask will appear as soon as iOS 15.4 is installed on your iPhone. Here’s how that works. Our solution, however, is only compatible with the iPhone 12 or later, so we have other options for those with or without an Apple Watch.

Apple iOS 15.4 includes a Mask setting for Face ID

iOS 15.4 is required for this new option. iOS 15.4 is currently in beta, so if you aren’t a beta tester you’ll have to wait until its release to the general public in  March or April.

Alternatively, if you feel daring you could sign up for the beta program. 

Follow these steps after installing iOS 15.4:

  1. Face ID & Passcode can be found under Settings
  2. Your passcode is here.
  3. A new option called Face ID with Mask will then appear. 

unlocking iPhone using Face id when wearing mask

Face ID will use the unique features around the eye area rather than performing a full facial recognition once activated.

In addition, users can add glasses (which is handy for those who wear spectacles! ).

The Apple website suggests disabling the settings to improve the accuracy of Face ID. According to reports, Face ID unlocking in the mask only works on iPhones 12 and newer. We will test the new function as soon as the beta is available.

Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch

There is a workaround for Apple Watch owners who don’t have iOS 15.4 and want to be able to unlock their iPhones wearing mask without entering their passcode each time. 

how to unlock iphone with face id

The Apple Watch Unlock feature introduced in iOS 14.5, allows you to unlock your smartphone while wearing a mask. You will need a watchOS 7b or later Apple Watch to participate.

What you will need?

  • Obviously, an Apple Watch is required to unlock an iPhone using Apple Watch. WatchOS 7.4 is required (which was launched on 26 April 2021).
  • You need to wear the Apple Watch unlocked and on your wrist.
  • Additionally, your iPhone must have a passcode (if it does not have one, go to Settings > Passcode > Turn Passcode On).
  • You also need to have Wrist Detection turned on.
  • Your iPhone will need to be running iOS 14.5.

Apple Watch unlocks iPhone

You must configure your iPhone so that it can be unlocked with the Apple Watch.

  1. Go to the Settings page
  2. Passcode & Face ID
  3. Please enter your passcode
  4. Unlock your Apple Watch with Apple Pay

When your Watch is out of date, a “Software Update Required” message will appear.

unlock iPhone using apple watch

When you try to unlock your iPhone using your Face ID while your Watch is on your wrist and unlocked, your iPhone will automatically unlock if it detects a mask on your face.

On your Watch, you will be notified that your iPhone has been unlocked, and you will be able to lock it again.

As long as you own a Watch, this is a great feature.

There are, however, some downsides. There are limitations to what you can do with an unlocked iPhone – including not being able to pay with Apple Pay at retail stores if you were hoping this would mean you wouldn’t have to enter your passcode.

The process unlocks your iPhone, but it is limited in its capabilities in that state. 

Paying with Apple Pay on a Watch is, of course, the sensible thing to do.

You won’t be able to access apps such as your banking app after you have unlocked your iPhone this way. Face ID unmasked or your passcode is the only alternatives in that scenario.

From a security standpoint, these disadvantages are advantages. Then no one can access your finances unless they are you.

Other security features are also implemented by Apple for this service. You still need to have your iPhone close to your Watch for the Face ID to work. Additionally, you can unlock your iPhone again simply by tapping your Watch and seeing that message.

That’s great if you have an Apple Watch, but what if you don’t have an Apple Watch and you need to unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask?

How to turn off Face ID?

To unlock your iPhone, you can simply disable Face ID.

  1. Click on Settings
  2. Passcode & Face ID
  3. Passcode required
  4. As a result, you can now de-select the sliders beside the options for iPhone Unlock, etc.

Henceforth, every time you want to unlock your iPhone, use Apple Pay, etc., you’ll have to enter a passcode.

Follow these steps to set up your iPhone so that it unlocks with a mask

The following tips will show you how to set up the iPhone’s facial recognition so that it can recognize you even if your face is partially covered by a mask.

Please note that it took several tries for us to successfully set up reliable face recognition, but it is possible. 

Method 1:

  1. Your face mask must be folded in the middle and the two eyelets attached to the ear. Hold the mask with one hand so it covers exactly the middle of your face.
  2. If you have a passcode, enter it in Settings > Face ID & Passcode.
  3. Set up an alternate appearance by clicking Set Up an Alternative Appearance. The alternative appearance option is not available if you already set one up. You will need to reset your Face ID and set it up again.
  4. In our experience, after a couple of tries, you will not see the warning that your face is covered.
  5. You will be guided in rotating your face in a circle by the circle displayed on screen once you have allowed the True Depth camera to take measurements.
  6. Wait for your face to be scanned for the first time.
  7. The second scan will begin when the mask is removed and the other side of the face is covered. Following the second scan, your iPhone should be able to be unlocked while wearing a face mask.

setting up face id with mask on iphone

Method 2:

Alternatively, you can reset your Face ID and start again, but this time hold the mask on one side of your face as you scan.

Hold the mask in the opposite direction of your face while creating the Alternative Appearance option.

We discovered Face ID worked when we wore a mask when we used the second method – which involved creating Face ID from scratch, covering one side, and then covering the other side to do an Alternative Option.

We found that the first method – just creating a mask to specify an alternate appearance – was less accurate than the second. Our findings indicate the device is most reliable if the tip of the nose is visible – if the nose is completely covered, the device is less reliable.

How to unlock your iPhone from your Apple Watch?

Wearers of Apple Watches can now use their Apple Watch to automatically unlock their iPhones when using Face ID while wearing a face mask with iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4.

Wearers must be close to their iPhones and have their Apple Watch unlocked.

Final Thoughts:

Security and convenience are always tradeoffs, but it’s good to see that Apple has quickly adapted iOS to handle the global rise in mask usage while balancing the security risks.

The effect of wearing a mask is already unpleasant enough without having to deal with a smartphone that refuses to unlock. We hope the tips above will ease your concerns.

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