Why is My Passcode Required to Enable Face ID

As an avid iPhone user for many years, the Face ID feature is a game changer for me, the ability to unlock my phone by just looking at it? WHAT? Amazing. But at the same time, many times I get a message on the home screen that says I need to enter my passcode to unlock the device. Why is my passcode required to enable face id? The whole point of face id is to unlock the device with your face and that’s it.

So today let’s see the reasons this happens, and how to fix it.

Most common reasons

Most common reason iPhone asks you to use passcode to enable Face ID probably happens without you even noticing it. For example, you carry your phone in your hoodie or hand when walking, and it tries to unlock a few times without you even noticing, so when you lift it up to your face, it already tried 5+ times before and failed, so asking you to unlock using passcode.

More common reasons for this are:

  • If the iPhone was just turned on, or was restarted you will be asked to use passcode.
  • If you haven’t unlocked your device for 48 hours or more, you will need to use passcode.
  • If you fail the face id 5 times, you will be asked to use passcode.
  • Your device has received a remote lock command
  • Maybe you’re just covering your face? You need to look straight at the device for it to work
  • The passcode was not used for 6 and a half days AND face id was not in use for the last four hours.

How to fix the issue

1. Make sure to update to the latest operating system, using an outdated iOS can cause unexpected issues such as the face id not working.

2. This is an obvious one, but make sure nothing is blocking the view of the True Depth camera. If it is even partly blocked, it won’t work.

3. Make sure the Face ID and passcode features are actually enabled. To do so, open your Settings app and browse to Face ID and passcode.

4. Maybe you need to register an alternate faceID – this basically means that you record another version of your face to Face ID to unlock your phone. Do this by opening the Settings app and browsing to Face ID and passcode and choose set up an alternate appearance.

Difference between failed Face ID attempt and passcode request

While sound similar, there is a difference between the ” You must enter your passcode to enable Face ID ” is a different message than just failing to detect your Face.

When your iPhone tries to recognize your face to unlock the phone and fails, you can swipe up and try again OR use your passcode to unlock.

However, when you see the message stating you MUST use passcode, this means you already passed the maximum 5 tries to unlock, or any of the other reasons stated above and you can’t just try again, at this point, you must use the passcode to unlock.

How Face ID works

The innovative feature works using the TrueDepth camera on the front part of your iPhone. The camera has many small sensors that pick up your face patterns and is able to recognize you almost perfectly. When you first get your new iPhone, you might remember that it asked you to scan your face from different angles, this helps set up a two-dimensional image of your face that apple can use to unlock your device.

If you’re wondering how Face ID works we wrote a valuable post about it here

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About the Author: Adam Wishmore

Adam Wishmore is an apple geek, there is no other way of putting it. Since the first generation iPhone hit the market to the latest Macbook pro, Adam knows everything there is and how to fix everything on apple devices. Find me on Facebook