iPhone X Face ID Can Be Fooled By Similar-Looking Family Members

Apple's iPhone X Face ID technology might mistake you for your parents, in some circumstances

Although overall reception of the iPhone X has been positive, there've been more than a few people who are a little concerned at the switch from Touch ID to Face ID. They may have good reason to be worried too, after news has emerged that similar-looking family members may be able to unlock your handset.

At Apple's big launch, Tim Cook did crack a joke that the iPhone X would unlock if used by your identical twin, but it seems to be more easily fooled than that in some cases. A story has emerged regarding the Malik family, specifically, 10-year-old Ammar Malik was apparently able to unlock his mother's phone using Face ID.

Apparently the iPhone X's Face ID thinks Ammar looks enough like his mom to allow him access to the phone, interestingly he wasn't able to unlock his Dad's phone, despite the fact that friends and family think he looks more like his father. You can definitely see the resemblance to his mother though.

The lesson learned here appears to be how you set up Face ID, allegedly poor lighting, such as being indoors or at night time, can impact on the accuracy. Ammar's mother reset Face ID and set it up in good lighting, and he was no longer able to unlock her phone.

In case you missed it, here's a recap on what's changed with Apple's biometrics; previously Apple's iPhones featured a fingerprint scanner embedded in the Home key, this allowed Touch ID to enable users to unlock their phones using fingerprint recognition, simply by tapping the Home key as you normally would to wake the handset.

With the iPhone X, Apple enlarged the display to take up the entire frontage, meaning the Home key was dropped and with it the fingerprint scanner also. Touch ID is not aboard the iPhone X, instead it uses a sophisticated TrueDepth front-facing camera with facial recognition software; you can configure the phone to recognise your face and it'll unlock when you pick it up. This is supposed to keep it secure from anyone else unlocking your device.


An earlier report from the WSJ showed the lengths you might have to go to in order to trick Face ID, with the use of complex 3D printing to create mask replicas of a users's face. However, it seems all you have to do is be related to someone, look a bit like them, and for them to set up Face ID in crappy lighting!

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