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Home / Tips and Tricks / Here’s how to unlock iPhone faster when wearing a face mask when your phone lacks Touch ID

Here’s how to unlock iPhone faster when wearing a face mask when your phone lacks Touch ID

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Apple’s face recognition is quick and safe unless you’re wearing something that covers part of your face.

James Martin / CNET

This story is part of Apple event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

Apple makes it easier to unlock that new iPad Air for 2020 with a Touch ID fingerprint readerand confirmed that the iPhone face recognition – Eye, nose and mouth biometric information is required to securely unlock the phone wear a face mask. This new form of Touch ID, which uses biometrics from your fingerprints rather than your face, highlights the problem of securely unlocking your face when masking it.

Apple will release iOS 14 for download on Wednesdaybut the youngest iPhone software update before, iOS 13.5 includes a streamlined process that does a good job removing some, but not all, of frustrations. An exception is the iPhone SE with Touch ID and not Face ID.

After installing the new update, you no longer have to wait multiple times for face recognition to fail before being prompted for your PIN code. After facial recognition fails for the first time or you swipe up from the bottom of the screen, you can enter your PIN code and unlock your phone or approve an Apple Pay transaction.

Look at that:

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You now have two options: leave Face ID alone and get used to the new passcode prompt, or disable it entirely. For me, the update made such a big difference that I plan to keep Face ID activated at all times. Like me, many others choose to keep facial recognition intact to make unlocking easier at home when not wearing a mask.

Continue reading:: Your face mask selfies could train the next facial recognition tool

How Face ID works with iOS 13.5

The Face ID change in iOS 13.5 is subtle and doesn’t have any settings or toggles to change it. Face ID will only try one more time to recognize your face before being asked for a PIN or password. Alternatively, you can swipe up from the bottom of your iPhone’s screen to go straight to the PIN prompt. No interaction with face recognition is required and your phone is still safe.

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It took me a few tries to get used to the new method, but now that I’m more aware of the fact that I’m wearing a mask and face recognition isn’t working, I’ve learned to swipe from the bottom of the iPhone Screen while I lift it. It’s understandable that when you’re standing at a checkout and trying to use Apple Pay as a queue for people behind you to get frustrated with Face ID. I think the new passcode prompt is a welcome feature.

Whatever you do, don’t pull down your mask quickly to unlock your phone. This defeats the purpose of wearing a mask in the first place, which is said to help slow the spread of the coronavirus through human-to-human transmission.

If you’re too upset or frustrated with Face ID to use it, you can always turn it off.


Disable Face ID’s iPhone Unlock feature and get into the habit of entering a passcode.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Turn off face recognition on your iPhone

If you’d rather turn off face recognition, here’s what to do. You can also fine-tune if it is used:

1. Open that the settings App on your iPhone.

2. Scroll down and tap Face ID & Passcode.

3. Enter your passcode when prompted.

If you only want to turn off face recognition for certain tasks, e.g. For example, to unlock your phone or approve Apple Pay purchases, turn off facial recognition for iPhone unlocking using the switch at the top of the screen. That means your phone won’t try to scan your face. Instead, after waking the screen, swipe up on your phone and enter your passcode.

Then turn off face recognition for Apple Pay. That means you have to tap a Pay with a passcode On the Apple Pay screen, click the button and enter your code before the transaction can be completed.


Fine-tune when using face recognition to make driving outside the home more tolerable.

Angela Lang / CNET

By turning off face recognition for certain tasks, you can still use Apple’s secure face unlock technology when you sign in to apps or approve App Store purchases. These are tasks you are currently more likely to do at home if you are not wearing a mask at all.

Another benefit of turning off face recognition for individual tasks is that you can turn it back on once you’re home without having to go through the face recognition setup process again.

Alternatively, you can tap to turn face recognition off completely and use a passcode instead Reset Face ID and confirm your decision. You then use a passcode instead of Face ID to unlock your Phone, Apple Pay, and App Store purchases.

Need help finding materials to make your own masks at home? We can help you get the materials you need. While you are at home Take some time to master the latest features on your iPhoneincluding How to turn off your phone in front of unknown callers.

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