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The Complete Guide To iPhone Face ID

As one of Apple’s most efficient features, Face ID has become a well-used system for unlocking your iPhone, authorizing payments, and a lot more. So if you’re wondering how Face ID works, how secure it is, and if water and shock damage can force it to malfunction, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dig in deep into the world of Face ID.

Can You Skip Face ID on iPhone?

You can skip Face ID recognition on an iPhone by quick swiping on the lock screen. After five unsuccessful attempts to unlock your iPhone through Face ID, your device will ask you to enter your passcode. Once you enter your password, you’ll be able to access your phone.

Face ID also has different settings that you can configure. One of these settings is the ability to turn off Face ID to unlock your phone. For example, it might be useful if you often wear things that may obstruct facial recognition, such as face masks, and you want to avoid the hassle of pulling it down to unlock your iPhone.

You can turn off Face ID as a way to unlock your phone by following these steps:

  1. First, open ‘Settings.’
  2. Tap the ‘Face ID & Passcode’ tab. Your iPhone will request your passcode. Enter this to continue.
  3. Press the button beside ‘iPhone Unlock’ to turn off Face ID as a phone unlocking method

You can also quickly access your home screen by quickly swiping up on your lock screen. It allows you to skip Face ID as your device will ask you for your passcode instead of scanning your face. Does Apple require you to change your password? Do passcodes expire? Get deeper into how iPhone passwords work with my article.

Does Face ID Work if You Are Dead?

Face ID relies on capacitive sensors and RF waves. According to Apple, the sensors are ‘attention-aware, and face ID recognizes if your eyes are open and looking towards the device, so Face ID should not work if you are dead.

Face ID stores mathematical data of your face into its database. Whenever Face ID is required, the scanners project and analyze millions of dots on your face to accurately represent who’s trying to pass facial recognition successfully. Face ID also adapts to the owner’s change in appearance. Your phone will ask for a passcode before it enters that changed data, such as hair growth or make-up, into the database.

If the dead person is the owner of an iPhone and you’re trying to unlock it, it could work if their face remains the same as the last Face ID update. Eventually, it all leads down to the scanner’s successful recognition of eye movement and skin temperature.

Why Is My Face ID Not Working After Water?

Face ID failure can result from moisture, water damage, and short circuits. If there are problems with your Face ID after your phone has encountered water, there might be something wrong with your TrueDepth camera sensors. 

TrueDepth is the current camera system on Apple devices iPhone X and later. TrueDepth runs the Face ID biometrics system, as well as other applications like animoji. Though Apple has strengthened its hardware with splash resistance, iPhones are not waterproof. If liquid manages to get through your phone’s casing, it could damage your software, and this includes TrueDepth. It will cause the Face ID system to malfunction, and you won’t be able to use it to unlock your iPhone or use Face ID for payments.

Can’t tell whether water has entered your phone? You can get a thorough explanation of the signs of water damage on your iPhone in this article of mine.

Unfortunately, a broken TrueDepth camera is difficult to get fixed by third parties. You will have to get it repaired at an Apple store. Depending on your warranty and AppleCare plan, you will be able to avoid hefty fees. Can you pay affordable prices for water damage? You can read all about that in my article here.

How Do I Fix TrueDepth?

Fixing TrueDepth depends on the damage done to the hardware. It can be simple as checking for obstructions such as dust and your iPhone casing, or as complicated as having the whole TrueDepth system repaired at an Apple store due to water or shock damage. 

Before having your phone professionally checked, try out these steps:

  1. The TrueDepth camera may be obstructed by a screen protector or a phone casing. Ensure that nothing is blocking the scanner.
  2. Try getting a micro-fiber to wipe off the dust on the camera. Dust and dirt might be a reason for a TrueDepth malfunction.
  3. You may have to reboot your iPhone. Hold the Power Button and the Volume Up button for a few seconds until the ‘Slide To Power Off’ button appears. Slide it to the right to turn off your phone. Hold the Power Button to turn it back on.
  4. Check for a new iOS update. You can do this by going to ‘Settings,’ tapping ‘General,’ and pressing the button that says ‘Software Update.’ Sometimes required Face ID patches can cause Face ID to malfunction.
  5. You might have to Factory Reset your iPhone. Before doing this, back up your data on your laptop or desktop to avoid losing important information. You can also learn more about iPhone resets here in my article.
  6. If none of these fixes work, you might have to contact Apple Support.
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If these simple steps don’t work, you might have a problem with the TrueDepth itself. Water damage, moisture, and shock damage can break the TrueDepth hardware, and you may have no choice but to replace it at an Apple Store.

Since Apple has incorporated tamper-detection features into their TrueDepth system, it may not be easy to find third parties who can repair it. Therefore, Apple highly encourages you to fix TrueDepth at an Apple Store to prevent hazardous injury from improper modification.

You can learn more about iPhone warranties and receipts by reading my detailed article.

Can Face ID Be Fooled by a Photo?

No, Face ID can’t be fooled by a photo. Face ID is run by a TrueDepth camera, which maps the contour of your face with invisible infrared dots. The TrueDepth camera is built to distinguish 2D surfaces, such as photos, from 3D surfaces. Because photos lack the depth required to capture accurate mathematical data, Face ID doesn’t work on printed or electronic images of the user’s face. 

Face ID is based on a recognition sensor that projects thousands of infrared dots onto the user’s face and an infrared camera that identifies that data. This is then stored in the security system.

Aside from requiring a specific temperature, Face ID also requires users to have both their eyes open and their nose and mouth visible to work. As photos can’t project temperatures and don’t have the needed depth of Face ID, images cannot bypass Face ID. It is one of Apple’s safety features in phones to protect them from unwanted trespassing.

Will iPhone Face ID Work With a Picture?

You can’t use a picture to open your iPhone with a Face ID. Apple’s newest camera, TrueDepth, uses infrared technology to map out an accurate representation of your face. Because it uses infrared dots in its scanning process, TrueDepth can distinguish between 2D and 3D shapes. You won’t be able to use a picture for Face ID.

Using a picture to bypass a biometric system is one of the most popular ways of accessing someone’s phone. Because of this, Apple has made sure that its TrueDepth camera can tell apart someone’s face and pictures through its anti-spoofing features. The quality of the photograph used doesn’t matter. Once the sensor cannot register the depth of 3D objects such as one’s face, it will treat the picture like a blank sheet of paper.

Can Face ID Be Fooled by Twins?

Face ID might be fooled by twins who have very similar facial features. Although the probability of a random person bypassing the Face ID feature is 1 out of 1,000,000, the likelihood is different for twins or relatives who look like you. 

Face ID uses an iPhone’s TrueDepth camera to capture mathematical information about your face. That information is then stored in its secure enclave. However, because it keeps data on your face instead of your actual picture, similar-looking twins may bypass Face ID because the mathematical make-up of their faces is similar.

Your younger relatives may also be able to fool Face ID. For example, children under the age of 13 might be able to unlock their iPhones because of their lack of distinct facial features at a young age.

If you’re uncomfortable with the possibility of your relatives being able to bypass Face ID, Apple suggests that you use a passcode to authenticate your device instead. 

How Reliable Is Face ID?

Face ID is quite reliable. There’s a 1 in 1,000,000 chance that a stranger will be able to bypass Face ID with one single enrolled appearance. That’s a 0.0001% probability, which is fairly very low. Aside from that, Apple has ensured even greater security, requiring you to enter your passcode after five failed Face ID attempts. 

Along with its anti-spoofing technology, Face ID can distinguish between 2D and 3D shapes. Unfortunately, it means that you can’t use printed pictures to access Face ID, as photos lack the dimensions required by Face ID. Apple mentions the 1 in 1000,000 probability of a stranger unlocking your iPhone using Face ID on their website.

However, your relatives may be able to pass Face ID. Because Face ID stores mathematical data of your face, your relatives with facial features similar to yours may fool the system. Face ID is designed to work quickly and efficiently, and it doesn’t take a large amount of time to scan for differences fully. It may lead Face ID to mistakenly give relatives, like twins, access to your iPhone. If this bothers you, Apple suggests that you use passcode verification for unlocking your phone and for payments instead.

Can You Face ID With a Mask?

Unfortunately, Face ID cannot work while you’re wearing a mask. TrueDepth needs to capture your eyes, nose, and mouth to compare that data with the stored data of your face. It won’t be able to do this when you’re wearing a mask. However, Apple has updated their biometrics system with a patch on iOS 14.5, where Face ID automatically switches to a passcode prompt when used with a face mask.

Apple implements a sophisticated anti-spoofing network into its Face ID system. By requiring you to show your whole face, Apple lowers the chance of someone accessing your iPhone. However, Apple has developed Face ID to adapt to small changes in your appearance, such as make-up or glasses. It is a great security feature, but constantly pulling down your mask to use your Face ID may be a hassle to you. If this is the case, Apple says you can turn off Face ID as a way to unlock your iPhone. You can do this by following these steps:

  1. First, open ‘Settings.
  2. Tap the ‘Face ID & Passcode’ tab. Your iPhone will request your passcode. Enter this to continue.
  3. Press the button beside ‘iPhone Unlock‘ to turn off Face ID as a phone unlocking method. 

Can Dropping Your Phone Break Your Face ID?

You can break Face ID by dropping your phone. TrueDepth, the camera which runs Face ID, is made out of infrared sensors. Because the scanner is made out of very tiny components, making the sensors very fragile to shock and water damage. Depending on the height and whether you have proper accessories to protect your phone, you might break the TrueDepth system entirely. 

Like most cameras, TrueDepth is made of many tiny parts. These parts make up the Face ID biometrics system which includes the infrared scanner. Though Apple has strengthened the casing of its devices, certain drops can damage the internal hardware of your phone. In addition, falls can knock out certain components from their places or hurt them.

Unfortunately, TrueDepth is difficult to repair through third parties. If you have tried the simple ways of restoring Face ID, such as rebooting your phone, you may have TrueDepth damage. Apple suggests that you get your iPhone repaired at official Apple stores to protect yourself from unwanted side effects of improper restoration. Wondering whether Apple Stores accept walk-ins for iPhone repairs? All your questions are answered with this detailed article that I wrote. 

Accidentally dropping your iPhone is scary. Will the drop cause internal damage? What are the signs of inner wear, and what can you do about it? There’s a lot to learn about dropping your phone in this article of mine.