How Apple Face ID Works


“_DSF0294” by Tinh Te Photos is marked with CC0 1.0.

By: Caron Cockerham, Journalist

Apple’s Face ID is a facial recognition technology that first appeared on the iPhone X in 2017. It is an upgrade from Apple’s Touch ID for the company’s latest iPhones.

How It Works

Face ID uses a “TrueDepth camera system”, which contains sensors, cameras, and a projector at the top of the iPhone in the notch to create a 3D map of your face. Every time you look at your phone, the system performs an authentication check, allowing your device to be unlocked.

Security Concerns

Your face data is protected by a secure enclave in the Bionic chips, and the processing is done on the chips, including the A11, A12, or newer. According to Apple’s software engineering chief, Craig Federighi, who replied to an email from someone who asked the company what would stop a thief from taking someone’s iPhone, pointing it at their face, and running off with the device. “If you don’t stare at the phone, it won’t unlock,” he said.