Face ID

With more and more people wearing face masks during the novel coronavirus pandemic, many have realized that they can't unlock their iPhone using its Face ID feature if they keep their mask on.

In response to this issue, security researchers have discovered a way to unlock the phone without removing one's mask, although it may not work 100% of the time.So, how can you unlock your iPhone using Face ID while leaving your mask on? The Wall Street Journal posed this question to Apple, which came back with the following standard response, "Face ID is designed to work with your eyes, nose, and mouth visible. Users can still unlock their devices while wearing a mask by entering their passcode."

Meanwhile, researchers at Tencent Security Xuanwu Lab in China have released a video demonstrating a method they say allows users to unlock an iPhone 11 with a high rate of success without removing their masks. However, staff at the US-based website 9to5Mac tested the method for themselves and reported that although they did have some success after registering their appearance in Face ID with a mask covering half of their face, it was not very consistent.

They found that their chance of success increased if they registered both a primary and alternate appearance, using a mask to cover one side of their face for the primary appearance and the other side for the alternate one. Below is the procedure for Face ID registration while wearing a mask.
  • Fold the mask in half and hold it up over your face.
  • If your iPhone says "Face Obstructed," slowly move your mask from the center of your face until the phone asks you to "Move your head slowly to complete the circle" in order to advance to the next step. (Xuanwu Lab recommends covering just the tip of your nose.)
  • Once the initial Face ID scan is complete, tap "Continue" to proceed. Repeat the procedure and complete a second scan of your face.
  • "Face ID is now set up" will be displayed on your screen.
  • Cover your face with the mask and see if you can unlock your iPhone.

Face ID

In the event that it still doesn't work consistently, with your mask folded in half again re-register an alternate appearance within Face ID, this time covering the opposite side of your face from the one you covered before. If all goes well, you may be able to significantly reduce the number of times you have to remove your mask in order to unlock your iPhone.