How to Use Face ID with Sunglasses: The Ultimate Guide

Bethany Walsh

Feb 21, 2022

In the summer, it's all about looking cool to beat the heat. But that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your favorite pair of sunglasses. This article will show you how to use Face ID even with glasses or sunglasses on, so you can unlock your device hands-free and take a good look at what's happening in front of you - whether it’s email notifications, texts from friends, or photos from all that time spent by the pool.

You can use your Face ID on your iPhone when you have your face in front of the phone. Face ID uses two images to create a 3D mapping of your face. So even if it's slightly out of alignment or even missing an eye, Face ID will still be able to unlock your device. But if you're wearing sunglasses, Face ID will have a hard time recognizing your face. This is because sunglasses often block parts of your face and prevent the infrared light used by Face ID from bouncing off your skin and onto the iPhone's receiver.

Until now, the only way to use Face ID with sunglasses was to remove them or lift them up in front of your face. But now there's a way around this. You can still unlock your iPhone with your Face ID—even with sunglasses on—with the help of a little extra infrared light.

How does it work?

Your iPhone has an infrared camera that sits at the top of your screen and helps with your Face ID. In addition to helping you unlock your device, this IR camera also lets you take photos in low-light environments, so you don't have to worry about missing those awesome sunset pictures - even if it's cloudy outside and the sun is setting. The new way to use Face ID with sunglasses combines both of these features into one. Here's how:

1) First, turn on Low Energy Mode in Control Center

2) Then, take a photo on iPhone in Low Energy Mode. It should be at night time with plenty of street lights.

3) After taking the shot, rotate your iPhone to face the IR camera and shine the flashlight on your lower eyelid. Take another photo to confirm that this is working correctly.

4) If you're using a pair of sunglasses, remove them and then lift up one end of them. Then, with glasses still in hand, very gently swipe down on either side of your sunglasses to activate your Face ID. Do not open the sunglasses fully; fold them flat or move them around or turn them away from your face when you're trying to activate your Face ID. Keeping them open and slightly bent towards you is best.

With this trick, your iPhone will use the added light from the IR camera to more effectively recognize your face in sunglasses. To put it into perspective, if there's only one light source, it'll be a lot harder to identify a person's face, especially if they're wearing sunglasses or have dark circles under their eyes. But using an additional light source (the IR camera in this case) makes it easier for Face ID to recognize that face so that you can unlock your device without having to remove your glasses.

Here are some more tips on how to make sure this happens:

  • Always keep sunglasses on when using Face ID so it can get a clear view of your eyes, nose, and mouth. Keep the glasses on even if it is indoors so the sensors can get a good scan of your facial features.

  • The iPhone works best with transparent or mirrored sunglasses, so you can still see out of them without any interference. Contact them and ask for their recommendations if you prefer a certain brand.

  • Avoid using tinted glasses that may block the sensors' view of your eyes, nose, and mouth.

  • Position yourself about 5 feet in front of your device with a clear view of its screen so it can scan your entire face without obstruction. Do not wear clothing covering most of your head. This could affect Face ID's ability to monitor parts like your jawline, chin, and forehead.

  • Keep your head perfectly still while you are holding the iPhone. Your facial expressions, wildly blinking or smiling, can affect Face ID's recognition accuracy. So if your toddler is trying to open their presents with their new iPhone, limiting their movement by putting a blanket over them will help keep them still enough for the device to work correctly.

Ensure no one else is using the device so its sensors will not be confused with someone else's face.

  • Try different angles and make sure you look straight at the screen when setting up Face ID. If you accidentally press a button on the side of your iPhone, take a second look at where your face was positioned.

  • If Face ID fails to recognize you the first time, make sure you are looking straight at the iPhone, your hair is not covering your face, and there is no interference from bright sunlight.

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