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Troubleshooting Guide: Face ID Not Working on Your iPhone or iPad

Troubleshooting Guide Face ID Not Working on Your iPhone or iPad

Face ID not working on your iPhone can be a pretty frustrating experience. You cannot access your phone, cannot use Apple Pay, or even install apps. You will have to enter your password manually every time you unlock your iPhone. 

Of course, it’s technology, and there can be a few glitches here and there. And most of the time, these Face ID hiccups can be easily fixed with some quick steps. 

These troubleshooting tips can be used on iPhone X and later devices, as these are the phones that support Face ID. You can also try these tricks on the iPads as well.

Before we get into the solutions, let’s spare a few minutes to understand how the Face ID works and the potential reasons why the feature won’t work. 

What is Face ID, and how does it work?

Much like the name suggests, Face ID is the feature that unlocks your iPhone with facial recognition – so it uses your face for biometric authentication. The notch on the iPhone’s screen has a TrueDepth camera that captures your face, analyzes it and compares it with the face used while setting up, and then unlocks the phone.

As mentioned, the Face ID is also used to download apps, approve transactions, and get access to the phone in general. This makes facial recognition important for security, and Apple ensures that an imposter doesn’t get through. It’s difficult to fool Face ID with a 3D model or a photograph of the user.

When you set the Face ID on a new iPhone, the device takes an image with infrared light of your face, which creates a 3D dotted pattern of your face. The neural engine then generates a ‘facial signature’ – the mathematical representation of your face. This feature is also adaptive, and it will update itself with the changes in your face over time (for instance, if you grow your facial hair).

Additionally, the Face ID data of the user is stored in iPhone’s Secure Enclave and not sent to Apple or stored in the cloud.

Common reasons why Face ID may not work

Now, even though the failure rate of Face ID is quite low, it doesn’t mean that the technology has no limitations. Some of the most common reasons why the Face ID doesn’t work are:

  • Holding the iPhone too close or too far which is causing the device to stutter
  • Your face is covered, or a major portion of it is covered, so your phone does not recognize you
  • If there are any major changes in your face, the Face ID might be having trouble authenticating
  • There are multiple faces within the iPhone’s field of view, and your device is scanning the wrong one
  • Your biometric settings are preventing the Face ID from scanning your face. For instance, you might have enabled the ‘Attention-Aware’ option, which requires you to be looking at the phone to unlock
  • There might be bugs in the system, which might cause the software to malfunction
  • There might be some issues with the hardware

How To fix Face ID not working on iPhone or iPad

Most probably, the Face ID not working issue can be resolved with some basic solutions. If the basic remedies don’t work, we have some advanced solutions too.

Here are some quick and easy solutions to fix Face ID problem –

1. Ensure your face is properly positioned

If your face is too close or too far from the device, it’s probably having trouble capturing your face. Hold your iPhone in a portrait orientation, and try different angles within the phone’s field of view to see if the device unlocks. Make sure your face is fully visible, and take off your glasses or face mask.

2. Remove any obstructing objects

Objects like sunglasses or scarves might be keeping the iPhone Face ID from scanning and verifying your face. Try removing anything that’s between the face scanner and your face.

3. Clean your camera and sensors

Iphone 14 & IPhone 14 Mini

Phone screens attract dust, fingerprints, and all sorts of other gunk. In case you haven’t wiped your screen in a while, it’s time to do that. Wipe your screen, especially the notch, with the sensors, and then give Face ID a try.

4. Restart your device

The whole ‘turn it off, and turn it on again’ trick works and solves most of the minor phone issues, so it’s totally worth a shot for your Face ID troubles. Try restarting your device, and the Face ID might end up working.

Here’s how to restart your iPhone –

  1. Press the power button and any one of the volume buttons at the same time
  2. Drag the slider that pops up, and your iPhone will turn off in about 30 seconds
  3. To restart your iPhone, press the side button until the Apple logo appears, and you can see if Face ID correctly works

Note that if your iPhone gets “stuck” while turning off, you can choose to force restart it.

5. Additional basic tips

Try setting up an alternate Face ID by wearing glasses, wearing sunglasses, or wearing a mask, so your Face ID will work better. Make sure that the screen protector has not collected dust or any other gunk near the iPhone’s camera. Try holding your phone in portrait mode under well-lit conditions and see if the Face ID works.

6. Turn Face ID Off and then Back On

The simplest way to make the Face ID work is to turn it off and then turn it back on again by tinkering with the Face ID settings. Here’s a rundown on how to do it –

iPhone Face ID Settings

  1. Go to settings app > Face ID & Passcode
  2. Enter your 4-digit password
  3. Turn the toggle for ‘iPhone Unlock’ off
  4. Turn the Attention-Aware Features off too

Then, unlock your iPhone with your passcode and set up Face ID again

7. Reset Face ID

Another alternative is to reset the Face ID and set it up again from the Face ID settings. Here’s how to do it –

iPhone Face ID Reset Option

  1. Go to settings app > Face ID & Passcode
  2. Enter your 4-digit password
  3. Tap ‘Reset Face ID’ option in red and confirm the action

After this, your face data will be erased from your iPhone, and you will have to set up and activate Face ID again.

8. Set up an alternate Face ID

You can set up an alternative Face ID; here’s how to do it –

iPhone Face ID & Passcode Settings

  1. Head over to the Settings app > Face ID & Passcode
  2. Tap on ‘Set Up an Alternate Appearance’
  3. Follow the prompts, so you will have a more accurate Face ID working for you

9. Reset all your settings

Instead of the Face ID, you can reset all your settings and set up those again anew. Here’s how to do it –

iPhone General Settings

  1. Head over to the Settings app
  2. Go to the General Settings
  3. Click on ‘Transfer or Reset iPhone’ and choose ‘Reset’
  4. Here, you will have multiple choices for resetting, but you can choose ‘Reset All Settings’

This won’t erase your data like photos and apps, but it will simply erase the present settings, and they will go back to default. Note that depending on the iPhone model you have, the steps might vary a little.

10. Update your iPhone to the latest version of iOS

 It’s worth checking if your iPhone has pending software updates that you might have missed. Upgrading iOS often fixes most of the bugs and provides better security. 

iPhone Software Update Settings

  1. Head over to the Settings app
  2. Tap open the General Settings
  3. Click on ‘Software Update’
  4. If you have any pending updates, you should install them as soon as possible

After the update, try working your Face ID once more. 

Still having trouble?

If you’re still facing the issue of Face ID not working, it’s time to take some active measures.

Contact Apple Support

There are multiples ways in which you can ask for help – 

  1. Apple Communities – you can ask questions, get them answered, and even view previously answered questions for help
  2. Apple Support – Head over to the official Apple site and select ‘Support’. Here on, you can choose topics that you need help with (they have a dedicated Face ID section). You will get related guides, videos, live chat, and phone support. You can also locate an authorized service provider near you for a repair.
  3. Apple Support App – the official app for support, which you can download and get help for all the Apple services.
  4. Apple Advisers – open the ‘contact us’ page on the official Apple website and find a phone number for your location. You can get help from a real person.
  5. Apple YouTube – the official YouTube channel has several helpful videos that can help solve your problem, find the ones that target Face ID issues.

Make sure you’re signed in with the Apple ID for the support team to help you better.

Consider repairing or replacing your device

If you think a hardware problem, then you can consider getting it repaired from the official service center. In case you have Apple Care with an eligible guarantee, you can replace your iPhone with a new one. 

Conclusion

To sum up, fixing Face ID can be done with some basic steps like cleaning the Face ID sensors or holding the phone correctly at arm’s length. Wear glasses or a face mask and set up an alternate appearance.

Ensure that you update iOS to fix bugs and enable Face ID on third party apps so it won’t stutter. You can also reset Face ID and set up the Face ID feature again. Try tinkering with the Face ID settings to see what’s keeping the camera from scanning your face.

Finally, if you think that your iPhone has some major issue, you can get in touch with Apple’s support or consider replacing your iOS device.

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