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How to fix Apple iPhone XS Face ID that is not working [Troubleshooting Guide]

You’re trying to set up or use Face ID on your iPhone XS but what you get is an error prompt saying that, “Face ID is not available. Try setting up Face ID later.” Although this isn’t a widespread issue, it has occurred an may occur at some point due to software errors, if not hardware problems on the phone. If ever you’ll bump into this issue when using Face ID on your new iPhone XS handset, I’ve lined up some helpful workarounds you can use to rule out software errors from the underlying causes. Feel free to refer to this walkthrough before rushing to an Apple Genius bar for iPhone screen repair or new unit replacement.

Face ID is Apple’s patented biometric identity sensor first implemented into the iPhone XS. It’s basically a facial scanning system designed to serve as biometric identity replacement for Touch ID in prior iPhones. With the Face ID system, users or later iPhones can unlock their devices by scanning and confirming facial identity, otherwise called facial recognition data processing. It truly is a highly advanced security feature for hefty powerful iOS handsets. But like the other advanced iOS features, the iPhone’s Face ID system is also not totally random flaws and errors.

Hence some owners of Apple’s new iPhone X and the recently released iPhone XS were purportedly having trouble when attempting to set up or use Face ID on their respective devices. In case you too will encounter the same issue on your new iPhone XS device, read on to find out the possible culprits and try any of these lined up solutions.

First solution: Reboot your iPhone XS.

For first time occurrences, the symptom could be just due to a random glitch transpiring on the phone’s Face ID system. And the easiest way to clear out random glitches is by performing a soft reset or reboot on your iPhone. This won’t affect any data from the internal memory, so there’s no need to back up files beforehand.

To soft reset your iPhone XS, simply refer to these steps:

  1. Press and hold the Side/Power button and either Volume buttons simultaneously for a few seconds.
  2. Release the buttons when the Slide to Power Off command appears.
  3. Drag the power off slider to the right.
  4. After 30 seconds, press and hold the Power/Side button again until the phone boots up.

As soon as your iPhone boots up, use Face ID to unlock the display to access the Home screen. If the problem isn’t fixed, then you may resort to a force restart instead. Performing a force restart clears out rogue apps and corrupted background services that might have caused the Face ID system to glitch and fail.

To force restart your iPhone XS, just follow these steps:

  1. Press and quickly release the Volume Up button.
  2. Then press and quickly release the Volume Down button.
  3. Finally, press and hold the Side/Power button until the Apple logo appears.

Both the soft reset and force restart help clear cached files from the phone’s internal memory including corrupted files and temporary data that might have inflicted trouble on the Face ID system. Face ID errors that emerge following a new update installation can also be rectified by a soft reset or force restart on the iPhone XS.

Second solution: Verify and ensure Face ID is set up properly.

To make sure that the problem isn’t due to an incorrect Face ID setup, check and make sure that you got it set up properly on your iPhone XS. Simply follow these steps to access and manage Face ID settings on your iPhone XS:

  1. Tap Settings from your Home screen.
  2. Select Face ID & Passcode.
  3. Then tap to enable or turn on the features you’re trying to use Face ID with.

Restart your iPhone XS after making necessary changes. Doing so will refresh the system and clears out errant cached files from the phone memory, thus making things working properly as iOS boots up again.

Third solution: Update phone software to the latest iOS version available.

Installing the latest iOS update on your iPhone can also be considered a possible solution especially if the Face ID error is attributed to random bugs, system data corruption, and malware infiltration. Software updates typically embed fix patches to get rid of any existing bugs that caused apps and features, or the iOS device itself to suddenly go rogue.

If your phone has stable Wi-Fi Internet access, then you can manually check for, download and install OTA iOS updates with these steps:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Select Software Update.

If an update is available, back up all important files you saved on the phone to iCloud or iTunes, for safekeeping. Once you’re all set, simply follow the onscreen prompts to proceed with the iOS update download and installation.

Reboot the phone after updating iOS, then try to see if that fixes the Face ID error on your iPhone XS.

Fourth solution: Reset Face ID and set it up again.

If the prior methods still failed to get Face ID back up and working properly on your iPhone XS, then try resetting Face ID and then set it up again instead. Doing so can help clear out any errant outputs from the previous setup. Whenever you’re all set, follow these steps to reset and set up Face ID on your iPhone XS:

  1. Navigate to Settings-> Face ID & Passcode menu.
  2. Tap the option to Reset Face ID.
  3. Then tap Set up Face ID to begin setup.
  4. Follow the given instructions from the setup wizard until everything is finished.

After successfully setting up your new Face ID, try and see if it’s already working. Meanwhile, if you have trouble enrolling your face, take your device to the nearest Apple service center so it can be thoroughly checked by an iPhone technician.

Fifth solution: Restore your iPhone XS in iTunes and set up Face ID from scratch.

Among the last options for you to consider if all the previous methods failed to fix the problem would be an iOS restore. This will help rule out major system errors from the underlying causes. Should you wish to give it a shot, then get your computer, iPhone XS, and iTunes ready then follow these steps to perform a recovery mode restore:

  1. Plug your iPhone XS  in to your computer using the original Lightning cable to USB port.
  2. While it’s connected, press and quickly release the Volume Up button.
  3. Then quick press and release the Volume Down button.
  4. Next, press and hold the Side/Power button and continue to hold as it restarts. Don’t release the Side/Power button when the Apple logo appears as you need to put the device in a recovery state.
  5. Release the Side/Power button when you see the Connect to iTunes logo on the screen.
  6. Go to iTunes then you should see a message saying that your connected iOS device is in recovery mode and prompts options to update or restore.
  7. Select the Restore option to wipe everything from the phone system and then restore iOS through iTunes.

Wait until iTunes is done restoring iOS files and download the latest software available for your device. Then reboot your iPhone XS to refresh and restart the system.

You can also set an alternate appearance to make Face ID still able to recognize you even when you’re look different. Here’s how:

  1. Navigate to Settings-> Face ID & Passcode menu.
  2. Enter your passcode, when asked to continue.
  3. Tap the option to Set Up an Alternate Appearance.
  4. Face and look straight into your phone and position your face inside the frame.
  5. Slowly move your head to complete the circle. If you can’t move your head, tap Accessibility Options.
  6. Tap Continue, when you’re done performing your first Face ID scan.
  7. Then, move your head slowly to complete the circle for the second time.
  8. Tap Done when the Face ID setup is complete.

If this doesn’t help either, then your iPhone is likely having some sort of physical or liquid damage that needs hardware repair. In that case, you can still try looking into other factors that may cause Face ID to fail and then try working on them before opting for service.

Other helpful suggestions

Remove any screen protector or casing. Doing so will ensure that nothing blocks the TrueDepth camera on your iPhone. If you see any residue or dirt covering the TrueDepth camera, then clean it up.

If you have sunglasses on and Face ID failed to recognize your face, then try removing the sunglasses. Sunglasses that are designed to block certain types of light may block the infrared light used by the TrueDepth camera. Also make sure that your nose, mouth and eyes are fully visible to the TrueDepth camera.

Your face orientation also matters. Face ID is designed to only work when your iPhone display is in portrait orientation. Thus, try again and face the TrueDepth camera in portrait orientation. The distance between your arm’s length and your face when using Face ID is from 10 to 20 inches. Thus, your iPhone must be within that arm’s length or closer from your face.

Don’t forget to report the issue to your device carrier or Apple Support, so they can assist you further.

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