Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

How to get Face ID to unlock your iPhone X while it’s sitting flat on a desk

iPhone X Review

Apple’s new iPhone X is quite possibly the most well-received iPhone in recent history. This is particularly surprising because it’s also the most drastically different iPhone Apple has ever released. People are generally pretty scared of change, and rumblings ahead of the iPhone X’s release made it clearly evident that users were worried about losing Touch ID. The notch at the top of the iPhone X’s display was also criticized far and wide. I was among those who thought the notch looked awful in photos and on video, but I’m now singing a completely different tune.

Now, as much praise as there has been for the iPhone X as a whole, there are still some complaints that people have. Among them, Face ID might be the biggest. People seem impressed with Face ID for the most part, and rightfully so. But there are some instances where Face ID isn’t quite as convenient as Touch ID was on older iPhone models, and we’ll address one of the most common complaints in this post.

Face ID is a brilliant solution for authentication on a smartphone. Even as first-generation technology, Face ID is quick and reliable for most users (and we recently told you about a secret that’ll make it even faster). It’s designed to be very secure — far more secure than any fingerprint scanner will ever be — and yet it often makes the iPhone X feel like there’s no security layer at all. It’s elegant and smart, and it will only get better in future generations.

At the same time, there are ways that Face ID is less convenient than Touch ID and one instance in particular seems to be bothering many users. When your iPhone is placed face-up on a table or desk, Touch ID makes it easy to quickly unlock and use your phone without having to pick it up off the table. Meanwhile, Face ID requires you to pick up your iPhone X or at least lean all the way over before it will unlock the device… unless you know about a little trick.

Want to make Face ID on your iPhone X work while your phone is sitting face-up on a table or desk? Funny enough, the same secret that makes Face ID faster in general also makes it work much better at angles.

In a nutshell, you need to set up Face ID again on your iPhone X, but this time do it with your iPhone X pointed up at your face from waist or stomach level. This is where you would naturally hold your phone when unlocking it, not at eye-level which is where most people hold the phone when setting up Face ID. This way, the TrueDepth camera captures more of the bottom of your face and neck, which is what it sees when you unlock the phone most of the time.

So first, follow these steps:

  • Open the Settings app
  • Tap Face ID & Passcode
  • Enter your PIN or passcode
  • Tap “Reset Face ID”

Now, set up Face ID again just like you did when you first got your iPhone X, but hold it at waist or stomach level instead of eye level as you rotate your head. That’s it. Not only will Face ID be faster for you now, it’ll also work much more reliably while your phone is sitting face-up on a table.

This isn’t a magic trick and your iPhone X won’t unlock from the other side of the table. But I have my iPhone X sitting next to my laptop with the bottom of the phone lined up with the bottom of my computer, and Face ID works every time. When my screen lights up with a notification, turning my head naturally to glance at the screen is enough to unlock the phone with Face ID. Thanks to tap-to-wake, you can also tap your screen anywhere on the iPhone X and it will wake up and unlock.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content.

Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment. His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.