Here’s how iPhone users can disable Face ID discretely


An FBI case in August marked the first time law enforcement forced an iPhone user to unlock their device using Face ID. Now, iPhone users are discovering ways to turn off Face ID quickly and quietly.

There’s been much debate regarding police and their ability to force a suspect to open their smartphones. In 2014, a Virginia circuit court ruled suspects cannot be forced to enter their passwords to open a device — the Fifth Amendment protects against self-incrimination. Unfortunately, fingerprints are considered outside the scope of that amendment, and the same court ruled police can demand suspects unlock their phones via fingerprint scanner.

Unlocking your phone using facial recognition can be convenient, but there are times when you may want to turn off Face ID. Here are some ways that you can temporarily force your iPhone to require a passcode.

Hold the power button and volume button to force the passcode screen

Xavier Harding/Mic

There are multiple ways to quickly disable Face ID and have your iPhone require its passcode instead. Reddit user Colin_XD noted in a post that briefly holding the iPhone’s power button on the right side and volume up button on the left side will do the trick. Simply hit cancel on the power down screen that appears and your phone will now require you to input your passcode. The trick works with the volume down button, too.

Make sure to only hold the buttons briefly — your phone will automatically call emergency services once you hit the five-second mark.

“Hey Siri, whose phone is this?”

If you’re not within reach of your phone, Siri can also lock your device. One Reddit user pointed out that if you ask Siri, “Whose phone is this?” the virtual assistant will show your contact card onscreen and also turn off Face ID or the fingerprint-reading Touch ID. Input the passcode to re-enable biometric unlock.

Or just turn off your phone

There are a number of ways to make your phone require its passcode, though the simplest may be simply to shut off the device. Upon every restart, the iPhone asks the user to input their passcode — which, as previously noted, you’re not required to do thanks to Fifth Amendment protections.

Now, while all of these methods will bring up your device’s passcode screen, passcodes can be thwarted. Police have relied on tools like GrayKey to bypass suspects’ passcodes. In response, Apple has added features like USB Restricted Mode, which limits how devices into which you plug your iPhone can access your data. Despite Apple’s efforts, GrayKey’s creators say a workaround is coming.

While summoning your passcode screen may not be useful in every case, it could potentially come in handy — so if you’re concerned, get familiar with the instructions.

Oct 3, 2018, 11:15 a.m. ET: This story has been updated