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

You picked up your phone, face on the display, then it unlocks. That’s how Face ID is supposed to work. But unfortunately, there are some factors that cause Face ID to fail or stop working. While this may not be a widespread issue, it can occur to your new iPhone XS Max sooner or later, hence better find out some early solutions. Mapped out below are suggested workarounds and generic solutions to a relevant issue with Apple’s iPhone XS Max Face ID. Read on to find out what to do if suddenly, Face ID doesn’t work as intended on your new iOS device.

One of the reasons why Face ID fails is camera obstruction. If you just installed a new screen protector or protective case, remove it first to ensure that nothing is blocking the phone display and/or camera. If that doesn’t do any good, try ruling out software errors with the following troubleshooting methods.

Before we move on to our troubleshooting, if you are looking for a solution to a different issue, make sure you drop by our troubleshooting page as we’ve already addressed some of the most common problems reported by our readers. Find issues that are similar with yours and use the solutions we suggested. If you still need our help after that, then feel free to contact us by filling up our iPhone issues questionnaire.

First solution: Close all opened or suspended apps then soft reset.

Various symptoms could arise when any of the background apps gets corrupted. To make sure this isn’t what causing your iPhone XS Max Face ID to fail, close all suspended apps with these steps:

  1. From the Home screen, swipe your finger up and then pause.
  2. Swipe right or left to navigate through the apps preview.
  3. Then swipe up on an app’s preview to close individual background apps.

After clearing all suspended apps, wipe all errant caches from your phone memory by performing a soft reset. Here’s how:

  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.

Wait until your phone is finished booting up and then try to unlock the screen using Face ID and see if it’s already working. If it’s not, then try the next workaround.

Second solution: Manage Face ID Attention options and settings.

There are two Face ID options you can turn on or off as you would prefer. These are the Require Attention for Face ID and Attention Aware Features.

The first option is used to impose additional security level as it prevents the phone to unlock via Face ID if you’re not facing on the display. When turned on, the iPhone’s TrueDepth camera verifies if you’re looking at your iPhone before unlocking. This may therefore cause problems when you’re wearing some eye glasses, sun glasses or colored contact lenses as any of these could block attention detection. The same thing can happen when Attention Aware Features is enabled, as it prompts the phone’s TrueDepth camera checks for attention before dimming the display or lower the alerts volume.

To rule this out, disable the option to Require Attention for Face ID and Attention Aware Features with these steps:

  1. Tap Settings from your Home screen.
  2. Select Face ID & Passcode.
  3. Toggle the Require Attention for Face ID switch to disable it. Do the same with the Attention Aware Features switch.

This workarounds however should only be considered a temporary solution since it makes the phone less secure. Restart your iPhone after applying these changes and then try to unlock it through Face ID. If it still failed, try resetting your Face ID with these steps:

  1. Go to Settings-> Face ID & Passcode.
  2. Select Reset Face ID. This will erase your current Face ID data.
  3. Turn Face ID off.
  4. Restart your iPhone XS Max (soft reset).
  5. Go back to Settings-> Face ID & Passcode menu, then select the option to Reset Face ID. This will allow you to create a new Face ID.

Give your iPhone another restart after creating a new Face ID and then try if it’s working.

Third solution: Reset all settings.

Performing this reset can potentially resolve the issue if invalid settings or options are to blame. If Face ID was working fine until you customized some settings on your iPhone, then you might have configured it wrong. To fix the problem, reset all settings on your iPhone XS Max to erase all customized settings and restore the original values or default options. Here’s how:

  1. Tap Settings from your Home screen.
  2. Select General.
  3. Scroll down to and tap Reset.
  4. Select the option to Reset all settings.
  5. Enter your passcode, when asked to proceed.
  6. Tap the option to confirm settings reset.

Your iPhone should reboot by itself when the reset is finished. Just enable the features you need to use on your device.

Fourth solution: Update phone software to the latest iOS version.

New iOS updates not only offer new features but also fix patches to address existing issues from random bugs and corrupted system data. This therefore can be considered among the potential solutions. If your iPhone has Internet connection, try to check for new OTA updates to download and install. Here’s how:

  1. From the Home screen, tap on Settings.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Select Software Update. Your iPhone then starts to scan for new updates.
  4. Tap Download and Install to implement the new update on your device.

Wait until the new update is completely installed, restart your iPhone and then see if Face ID unlock is already working.

Fifth solution: Reset your iPhone XS Max to factory defaults using iTunes.

A master reset can be considered among the last options if the problem persists after exhausting all applicable solutions. This can help eliminate complex system errors that may be preventing Face ID from working. To get started, get iTunes on your computer ready then follow these steps:

  1. Plug your iPhone XS Max into your computer’s USB port using the supplied USB cable or Lightning cable.
  2. Open iTunes on your computer. Be sure to use the latest version of iTunes to avoid system conflicts.
  3. Wait for iTunes to recognize and connect to your iOS device.
  4. Once connected, click on the iPhone icon on the left side of iTunes menu.
  5. Next, click the Restore button. You may choose to Back Up your important files from the iPhone to your computer drive.
  6. If prompted with iTunes to Restore the iPhone and wipe all data and settings from the device, click the Restore button to confirm.
  7. Then wait for iTunes to erase then download and restore the software for your iPhone.
  8. If prompted, select the option to Set Up as a New iPhone then follow the onscreen instructions to set up your iPhone XS Max.

Wait until the reset is finished then proceed with the initial setup process. At this point, you can set up Face ID like the first time you do.

Seek more help

Report the problem to Apple Support if Face ID is still not working on your iPhone XS Max and you’re getting errors like “Face ID is not available. Try using Face ID later,” “Face ID has been disabled,” “A problem was detected with the TrueDepth camera. Face ID has been disabled.”

You can also bring your iPhone to the nearest Apple service center in your area and have it diagnosed by an authorized technician. Your device might have obtained some sort of physical or liquid damage on the camera or other physical components used for Face ID.

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If you need more help with the use of certain functions and features of the Apple iPhone XS Max smartphone, feel free to visit our Tutorial Page. There you can find a list of how-to contents, step-by-step tutorials, as well as answers to FAQs regarding iPhone XS Max. If you have other concerns or encountered some troubles while using the phone, you can reach us through this form. Just be sure to tell us more details of the problem or device issue(s) you may have and we will be more than happy to assist you further.