6 Best Fixes When Face ID Is Not Working [100% Working Method]

Mobile Operating Systems

Both the iPhone and iPad have evolved to be more adaptive to modern times, and so have their security features. Hence, the introduction of the revolutionary security authentication feature that uses our facial details, the Face ID. But, what if it fails all of a sudden? How would you deal with your Face ID not working?

No matter how fancy Apple might describe it, it’s quite possible for Face ID not to work. A little throwback: the Face ID did not work during its demo in 2017, which threw Apple engineer Craig Federighi in an awkward situation on stage. Though it was later explained that the Face ID did not work because it wasn’t enabled on the device he’s using, reports from Apple users prove that the problem does exist.

In this article, we will be giving you some of the common reasons for Face ID not working and what you can do to fix it.

Also read: Forgot iPhone Passcode: 7 Best Ways to Unlock Your Device


Inside This Article

  1. What Is Face ID?
  2. Which iOS Devices Has Face ID?
  3. Why Is Your Face ID Not Working?
  4. Best Fixes for Face ID Not Working
  5. How to Set Up Face ID Properly?


What Is Face ID?

animated iPhone running Face ID
Photo from Freepik

Apple introduced its facial recognition feature in 2017 alongside the launch of the iPhone X. Face ID uses the TrueDepth camera system, which is an intelligent mapping technology that accurately creates your facial data.

This has effectively replaced fingerprint security after Apple redesigned the iPhone and banished the bezels including the physical home button. The Touch and Face ID technologies enable the unlocking of an Apple device. It also works to authorize purchases from the iTunes Store, App Store, and Apple Books as well as payments via Apple Pay.


Which iOS Devices Has Face ID?

As of 2020, the set of Apple products that use Face ID security technology are iPhone X, XS, XS Max, XR, 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max, and iPad Pro third and fourth generations. While it’s not yet released, we already know that the iPhone 12 will also have this technology.

Face ID technology has been left out of the iPad Air (fourth generation). The fingerprint security feature makes a comeback and is located on the lock button at the upper-right corner of the device. The same is true for the iPhone SE, which only has the Touch ID.


Why Is Your Face ID Not Working?

There could be various reasons for Face ID not working. Two of the most common reasons that may cause Face ID not to work or respond are:

  1. Your iPhone has been dropped, which caused internal damages to the device.
  2. Your iPhone has been repaired, but it caused damage to the Face ID component of the device.

Apple is particular with the technology it has developed. Hence, the Face ID sensors can only be repaired by Apple because it is connected to the motherboard that only Apple can repair and reprogram.

Read further to know the other reasons that could cause Face ID to stop working and how to fix them.


Best Fixes for Face ID Not Working

If you want to rejoin the future where you use Face ID to unlock your phone instead of type in your passcode like a Neanderthal, the first you have to do is identify the underlying cause of the problem.

Before anything else, it is important to understand that facial recognition technology does not work on older iPhones because the technology is specifically tailored for newer iPhone units. Older iPhones have no face detection sensors installed in them, so even if you update your iOS, Face ID will not work. Just one of those limitations that differentiate older generations of iPhones from the new ones.

Below are the top fixes on the issue of Face ID not working.


1. Update Your iOS to Latest Version

This is easy to navigate and check on your iPhone. From your home screen, go to Settings > General > Software Update.

User interface in an iPhone Settings app
Screenshot from iPhone

Your iOS should indicate that you have the latest one installed. If you have not yet, go ahead and update your iOS to enable Face ID.

User interface in an iPhone Settings app
Screenshot from iPhone


2. Make Sure Nothing Is Covering Your Face or the TrueDepth Camera

Face ID has been developed to map your face upon setting it up, and it adapts to any muscle changes or feature changes (make sure your iOS is updated).  It is important to ensure nothing major is obscuring your face to unlock your phone.

Any face coverings like face masks or shields should be discarded before Face ID can recognize your facial features. Remember not to have any phone cases that can cover the TrueDepth camera as this can also be a reason that can stop Face ID from working.


3. Make Sure You Set Up Your Face ID Properly

Upon purchase of your iPhone, Face ID is one of the things that you have to immediately set-up alongside setting up your Apple ID. However, this step can be set up later. If you find Face ID not working, one way to check if you have it set-up is by going to Settings > Face ID & Passcode.

Remember that Face ID is only available on the following iPhone units: X, XS, XS Max, XR, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max.

If Face ID & passcode comes to you from your screen in blue color, that means you have not set your Face ID yet or it was set up improperly. That said, you have to retry and go through the process of mapping your face for the sensors to record and recognize.

If the color on your screen comes to you in green, then you have your Face ID set up. Read further to know what other possible issues are present that could have caused the problem with your Face ID not working.


4. Do a Hard Reset on Your Phone

Alright, once you have checked that you have the latest iOS installed, your iPhone unit does have the feature, and you’ve checked your settings but nothing worked, it’s time to make a hard reset.

Doing a hard reset will turn back your phone to its default settings like a brand new one and ideally fix minor performance issues. Here’s a guide on the iPhone factory reset to help you with this process.


5. Reset Face ID

Now that you have reset your phone, it would be best to reset your Face ID setting. This is beneficial for two reasons. First, it will allow you to teach your device to continuously adapt to changes in your features, which is important to effectively use Face ID. And lastly, it will remove any settings that may have caused Face ID not to work.


6. Set Up an Alternative Appearance

Right, everything is working and you have managed to fix the problem on your Face ID issue. It would be wise to set up an alternative appearance that will allow for the Face ID sensor to further adapt to your facial features.

Here are the steps to set up an alternative appearance:

  1. Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode. Key in your passcode before setup can proceed.

    User interface in an iPhone Settings app
    Screenshot from iPhone
  2. Tap on Set Up an Alternate Appearance.

    User interface in an iPhone Settings app
    Screenshot from iPhone
  3. Similar to setting up your initial Face ID, Apple will ask to look straight into the TrueDepth camera and place your face inside the frame until the sensor can map your features.
  4. Tap on Continue once the device has finished mapping your features.
  5. You would be asked once more to slowly move your head as if to trace the circle for a second time.
  6. Tap on Done when the Face ID setup is complete.

This will not only allow your device to detect changes to your appearance and work just fine, but it will also eliminate issues that can stop Face ID from working.


Bonus: How to Set Up Face ID Properly?

Setting up your Face ID is easy as one-two-three. Here are the general steps to follow when setting it up on your phone:

  1. Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode. Key in your passcode before setup can continue.
  2. Make sure you are holding your camera in portrait position, eye level, and nothing is covering the TrueDepth camera.
  3. Frame your head inside the circle by moving your head as if tracing the circle on your screen. Tap on Continue once done.
  4. The device will ask you to do the same step once more to further map more features on your face. After the second scan has been completed, tap on Done.



Security is important to protect the information we keep and carry on our iPhones. Luckily, Apple is working to further develop the security features not only of the iPhone but other Apple products as well. Face ID has revolutionized the way we protect our data but it is not always impregnable and there are other apps available for download on the App Store to protect our data.

Much like any other technology, Apple’s facial recognition feature is not immune to glitches and any updates Apple plans to release will only improve the technology from what it was a few updates before.