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How to unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask

The COVID-19 pandemic reshaped our lives in big ways. It has also caused a set of secondhand effects, including making the process of unlocking our iPhones a bit more difficult. However, Apple does offer a way to unlock your iPhone without needing to type in your passcode, even if you are wearing a mask. With the release of iOS 14.5, Apple can use your Apple Watch to authenticate your iPhone and unlock it.

Unlocking iPhone with Apple Watch

Apple’s unlock feature allows your iPhone to unlock automatically if it detects that you are wearing your Apple Watch and are in close proximity to your smartphone. We should note that your iPhone will still occasionally ask for your passcode every few hours, even if you are wearing your Apple Watch, as a security measure. When unlocked in this fashion, your Watch will give you a slight buzz to let you know the action has been included. Here’s how to set up your iPhone to unlock with an Apple Watch, even when wearing a mask:

Step 1: On an iPhone running iOS 14.5 or greater, open the Settings app.

Step 2: Select Face ID & Passcode.

Step 3: Enter your passcode to proceed.

Step 4: Scroll down and toggle on the Apple Watch option under Unlock With Apple Watch.

If you get an error during the above process, ensure that your Apple Watch is updated to WatchOS 7.4 or greater.

It is important to note that a few requirements need to be met for unlocking your iPhone with an Apple Watch to work properly. First, this feature will only work if you are wearing a mask. Otherwise, the system will default to FaceID. Second, your Apple Watch must be nearby, on your wrist, unlocked, and protected by a passcode.

Force FaceID to work with a face mask

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Here’s another option for those of you who don’t wish to use your Apple Watch or simply don’t own one but still want to use Face ID while wearing a mask. We should note, however, that this trick is a bit finicky and may require you to repeat the process a few times until it works without issue. Additionally, this workaround has not been formally endorsed by Apple.

The Face ID workaround includes setting up an alternate appearance on your iPhone in which you wear a mask that only covers half your face. By setting the system up in such a manner, it is possible to trick the system into unlocking while wearing a mask. Note that this method may also reduce the security and accuracy of your Face ID print.

Step 1: With an existing FaceID already set up, open the Settings app.

Step 2: Select Face ID & Passcode.

Step 3: Choose the Set Up an Alternate Appearance option.

Step 4: Cover half your face with a mask and complete the setup process.

Step 5: If required, repeat the process until it succeeds; the system may note there is an obstruction the first few times.

Step 6: Attempt to unlock your iPhone with a face mask; if it fails, repeat the above process until successful.

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Michael Archambault
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Michael Archambault is a technology writer and digital marketer located in Long Island, New York. For the past decade…
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