iOS 15.4's Face ID With a Mask Feature Requires iPhone 12 or Newer

In today's iOS 15.4 beta that's available to developers, Apple added a useful new feature that changes the way Face ID works. There's now a ‌Face ID‌ with a Mask option that allows the iPhone to be unlocked when you're wearing a mask, but you need to have an iPhone 12 or newer.

MAsk On Face ID iOS 15
Right now, an ‌iPhone‌ can be unlocked with a mask if you have an Apple Watch for authentication to add an extra layer of security, but the new option removes the need for an Apple Watch. ‌Face ID‌ with a Mask works by recognizing the area around the eye when a mask is worn, which is less secure but more convenient. Unlike ‌Face ID‌ with the Apple Watch, the mask version works with Apple Pay and can be used to authenticate third-party apps.

Unfortunately, ‌Face ID‌ with a Mask is limited to some of Apple's newest iPhones, even though ‌Face ID‌ has been available since 2017 with the launch of the ‌iPhone‌ X. As noted on our forums, ‌Face ID‌ with a Mask is only an option on the ‌iPhone 12‌ and later, so you'll need an ‌iPhone 12‌, 12 mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max or an iPhone 13, 13 mini, 13 Pro, or 13 Pro Max.

face id add glasses
If you have an iPhone 11 or earlier, you will not see the ‌Face ID‌ with a Mask setup screen when updating to iOS 15.4, nor will you have the option to toggle it on in the Settings app.

It is not clear why Apple has limited ‌Face ID‌ with a Mask to the ‌iPhone 12‌ and newer, but there may be some differences in ‌Face ID‌ hardware over the years that allow it to work for some devices and not others in terms of reasonable security. It's also possible that Apple will expand ‌Face ID‌ with a Mask to older iPhones in future betas.

Related Roundups: iOS 15, iPadOS 15
Related Forum: iOS 15

Top Rated Comments

headlessmike Avatar
21 weeks ago

I turned off Face ID on my 12 mini Day 1 purchase. Please just bring back Touch ID already!!!
I have to wear gloves five months out of the year due to a recurring thing called “winter”. FaceID beats TouchID hands down.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AlexisV Avatar
21 weeks ago
Great timing. Today is the day masks are no longer a legal requirement anywhere in England ?
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Relentless Power Avatar
21 weeks ago

Typical Apple. "Hey, if you want this feature, upgrade!".
I don’t think consumers would ever use this as leverage to upgrade. Think about it. They would have to know this feature would even exist in the first place and be annoyed enough to upgrade. (I suspect most average consumers don’t even know how to navigate properly through the settings on iOS.)


Even though there is no hardware-wise limitation.
Source/citation required.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
anshuvorty Avatar
21 weeks ago
My guess? The ML chip on the iPhone 11 or older devices aren't powerful enough to enable FaceID with Mask, whereas the iPhone 12 and newer phones have the ML chip that is more powerful and can handle the FaceID with Mask feature.

Just my 2 cents...
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
alchemistmuffin Avatar
21 weeks ago
This is a hardware limitation and it all has to do with two thing: Neural Engine on Ax series chip and the face mapping sensors on iPhone 12s and iPhone 13s

This is how FaceID with mask will basically work. Lot of it is machine learning that requires more processing power.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Lcohen34 Avatar
21 weeks ago
Typical Apple. "Hey, if you want this feature, upgrade!". Even though there is no hardware-wise limitation.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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