How to unlock smartphone with a coronavirus mask on?

How to unlock smartphone with a coronavirus mask on?
TerriAnneAllen / Pixabay

Wearing a face mask is one of the most important things that could help in preventing the spread of the coronavirus. However, wearing the mask is messing with the face unlock feature of smartphones as it (the feature) has been trained to recognize the face without a mask. However, you can easily train your smartphone to unlock while wearing a coronavirus mask.

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Coronavirus mask and face unlock

Before the coronavirus outbreak, smartphone makers had been working to make their facial recognition technology as secure as possible. However, this has complicated things during the coronavirus outbreak as the facial recognition technology does not recognize masks.

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It has made it difficult for people to unlock their smartphones in public places. Moreover, it is a bigger issue for health care workers and others fighting the coronavirus on the frontlines. To overcome this, several videos are available online guiding you on how to trick your smartphone into unlocking while wearing a mask.

Of those, one of the most trusted tricks is from security firm Tencent Security Xuanwu Lab. According to the security firm, one can easily teach Apple’s Face ID to recognize the face while partially covering it with the mask. Moreover, the research firm says registering the Face ID with the mask on allows iPhone users to unlock the device with both the mask on and off.

Now, let’s see how you can teach your smartphone to recognize your face (and unlock it) while wearing a coronavirus mask. Before we detail the steps, you need to ensure that you have already registered your face without a mask. If not, you can do so, by going to Settings > Face ID & Passcode.

Unlock smartphone while wearing a coronavirus mask

Now, follow the below steps to teach your smartphone to unlock while wearing a coronavirus mask:

  1. Go to the Face ID option in the settings.
  2. Register for an alternate appearance by going to Set Up Alternate Appearance (or the Reset Face ID).
  3. Take a mask and fold it in half. Assuming the nose as the center point, put it in front of your face. It is recommended that you cover only the tip of the nose with the mask.
  4. Start registering your face like you normally do with the Face ID.  When the system prompts with a message "Face Obstructed," start removing the mask very slowly until the system says move your head slowly to complete the circle.
  5. Once the process is done successfully, you will get a message that the Face ID is set up.

That’s it! You can now try to unlock the smartphone by wearing the coronavirus mask. In case the trick doesn’t work, try registering with the mask again. If selecting the Alternate Appearance option (second step) doesn’t work, then try by using the Reset Face ID option.

Those who have tried this trick say that it took them multiple attempts to get the trick to work. This trick works with most face masks, including the government-issued and a disposable face mask.

You can also refer to this video.

Another trick

Many users were able to unlock their iPhone using the above trick. However, if the tech companies are to be believed, this trick should not work. Speaking to FOX Business Friday, Apple said that the Face ID technology uses “eyes, nose, and mouth” to work and that using the passcode is the best way to unlock the device when wearing a mask.

Apple even warned that users trying to manipulate the Face ID with face coverings may compromise the security of their device. However, if you still insist on using the Face ID and the above trick doesn’t work, there is one more way to unlock your smartphone while wearing a coronavirus mask.

A San Francisco-based product designer Danielle Baskin is using computational mapping to put your facial features on the N95 masks, according to the Wall Street Journal. Baskin, basically, converts your facial features into an image and then prints it on the surface of the masks.

“If there’s a value to making these for people that work in hospitals, I’m interested in developing it,” Baskin told the WSJ.

As per Baskin's website, Resting Risk Face, these trick masks work with Apple’s TrueDepth technology, which is present on the iPhone X and newer models. On the settings front, all you have to do is add a second face onto the phone.

"After research and tests, we developed a contoured version of our masks that are compatible with depth sensors. You just need to set it as an additional face," the website says. The ink used for printing is non-toxic and won’t affect breathing, the website assures.

Works with Galaxy S10+

Those with Samsung Galaxy S10+ phones, may also set up an alternate look with the face mask. USA Today, which tested the alternate look trick, was able to unlock a Galaxy S10+ smartphone with a coronavirus mask on.

Moreover, the handset was able to differentiate between different masked faces, and unlocked only with the face (with a mask on) that was registered with the device. This test should come as a relief for those who are concerned that the security of their device (at least for Galaxy S10+) would be compromised if they tried to trick the system.

Nevertheless, if you want, you can try the above trick (of adding a second appearance) on your iPhone and Android device to see if it works or not. Do let us know in the comments section if the trick worked (and if not) or if you have any other tricks that work.

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Aman is MBA (Finance) with an experience on both Marketing and Finance side. He has worked as a Risk Analyst for AIR Worldwide, and is currently leading VeRa FinServ, a Financial Research firm. Favorite pastimes include watching science fiction movies, reviewing tech gadgets, playing PC games and cricket. - Email him at
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