Craig’s Face ID failure on the iPhone X

Sorry to spoil it for you, but…

It seems that some people think that Face ID failed during the keynote, but what actually happened there – I think – was that Craig picked up the wrong iPhone. One without Face ID setup for him. This is why it showed this: “Swipe up to unlock” and “Your passcode is required to enable Face ID” after two five attempts. Note the “to enable Face ID“. As in. It was not setup for him.

Well. So far for the failure during the keynote.

Edit: Actually. Looking at the facts. This doesn’t look good for Apple. Certainly not for a GM.

Edit-2: Well. maybe not. I checked the keynote once more and it seems that Craig looked at the iPhone X twice before Face ID got disabled. He didn’t even notice it.

The first time Craig didn’t pick up the iPhone, but he looked at it on the table. This was attempt number one. And it failed to recognise him.

The second time Craig did pick up the iPhone, and he looked at the iPhone, but only briefly. This was attempt number two. Which also fail to recognise him.

After this, Face ID was disabled, because that is what it should do. Disable Face ID after two five unsuccessful attempts.

Ergo. The problem was that he looked at the iPhone X, but not long enough.

Edit-3: The problem appears to be even simpler. Well. According to Apple that is, because their explanation to David Pogue was this:

People were handling the device for stage demo ahead of time,” says a rep, “and didn’t realize Face ID was trying to authenticate their face. After failing a number of times, because they weren’t Craig, the iPhone did what it was designed to do, which was to require his passcode.” In other words, “Face ID worked as it was designed to.

Ok then please, please explain to me why Face ID on the backup iPhone X worked. Let me guess. That iPhone X wasn’t handled by the same person, but Craig himself?

11 thoughts on “Craig’s Face ID failure on the iPhone X

    • Craig’s response to it. His: “Let’s go backup” made it look like something was wrong. And it was. As in. Face ID was not setup on that iPhone. Just go ask Craig on Twitter 😉

  1. 1. Greg? You probably mean Craig Federighi (

    2. I’m pretty sure it failed to recognize him. Try using Touch ID with a wrong finger a few times and you will get the equivilant message: “Your passcode is required to enable Touch ID”. It will probably work the same with Face ID. If it detects a wrong face and someone tries to unlock by swiping up it will just lock and disable FaceID until the passcode is entered once.
    If you rewatch the scene you will also notice he wiped his face before trying the “backup” phone. He clearly knew the first phone failed to recognize him.

    • 1.) Sorry. My error. Fixed.

      2.) Yes. Touch ID is disabled after five failures, and Face ID after two failures, but Philip Schiller clearly said: “when you use Face ID for the first time” before handing it over to Craig. And when I use Face ID for the first time, then I will have to set it up first. Otherwise it won’t be the first time. Correct?

      I did notice that the display also has a lock symbol on it, so it got locked somehow, and if you can only lock the iPhone after Face ID is setup, then this was not good. This may be an error, or the iPhone was setup by someone else.

      • They were clearly prepared phones… he wanted to show how the unlocking process works. If it was planned to have him set up FaceID on stage he would have just done it.

        Additionally the error message “Your passcode is required to enable Touch ID” only appears when Touch ID is set up and a finger is not recognized. Why would they use the same error message for Face ID, but now use it in a different situation?

      • But when you listen to Philip Schiller, then you clearly hear him say: “I’m really exited to invite out Craig Federighi to show you iPhone X and what it’s like to use it for the very first time“. The: “for the very first time” is what got me thinking, but I know what the problem was – he looked at the iPhone, twice*, but not long enough, and then Face ID gets disabled. Seriously. Just go check it. It’s clear now.

        The first time he didn’t pick up the iPhone, but he did look at it. That’s enough for Face ID to give it a try. The second time he only looked briefly at the iPhone. That got Face ID locked.

        If you go forward to 1:36:05 in the keynote, then you’ll see that it says: “…Face ID“. Not “…Touch ID“.

  2. There’s an old equation about demos: “….the chances of a demo working are inversely proportional to the number of people watching…” 😉

  3. I’ll explain what Apple said as it seems some people aren’t understanding. When Craig picked up the phone Face ID was already disabled, and will require the pin, however it only displays the pin-entry when swiping up. He said out loud he was going to swipe up, however if you look at the video he didn’t actually swipe up. He did swipe up on the second attempt and which is why the pin-entry was shown.

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