Unified World Communications What is faceID?

The iPhone X has a 5.8 inch edge-to-edge display. Due to this design change there is no longer room to fit a TouchID sensor (see our review here). The company has decided to use a new method to unlock your iPhone. FaceID is the new biometric protection Apple have integrated into their latest handset, the iPhone X. It is a facial recognition system that builds upon existing hardware found in other devices.

What’s the difference?

Standard facial recognition systems conventially use a front facing camera to identify two dimensional shapes. These typically must be in a well-lit environment in order to detect your face and compare to your original scan on the device. FaceID uses a new rig of sensors to scan your face including depth perception in fully lit or pitch black rooms.


The iPhone X uses a new 6 sensor system to create a three dimensional scan of your face with depth detection. A 3D scan such as this can’t be fooled by a flat printed image of a face.

The system combines a dot projector, front camera, infrared camera, flood illuminator, proximity sensor and an ambient light sensor. This floods your face with 30,000 invisible infrared dots which measures and creates a three-dimensional model of your face.

It can almost instantaneously determine whether you are looking at your phone or not and unlock the device based on your attention.

What about make-up, hats or beards?

The A11 chip inside of the iPhone X uses Machine Learning to learn your appearance and how you change over time. Wearing a hat and scarf shouldn’t cause an issue when attempting to unlock your phone or use Apple Pay. However sunglasses are designed to block UV and infrared and this has the potential to prevent a successful scan. Beards and make-up are also said to not be a problem for faceID.

What about TouchID?

TouchID is still available in the majority of Apple’s existing lineup of iPhone. If FaceID isn’t appealing to you as a user there are several other devices where touchID is still available. TouchID is still expected to be available for the next few years in these other devices.

< Back to Blog