iPhone 6s

Facedown detection stands as one of the underrated features in iOS 9’s rich arsenal of power-saving tactics designed to help extend your run time by up to an additional hour.

Facedown detection avoids turning the display on when a notification comes in and your phone is put facedown. But as it turns out, Facedown detection doesn’t work on all devices compatible with iOS 9 and there is a good explanation for that  why.

Gautam Prabhu explains that Facedown requires the M7, M8 or M9 motion co-processors which are found inside the following iOS devices:

  • M7— iPhone 5s, iPad Air, iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 3
  • M8— iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 4
  • M9— iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus and iPad Pro

In addition to a motion co-processor, Facedown detection requires the proximity and ambient light sensors, too.

“Thanks to ambient light and proximity sensors, your iPhone knows if it’s facedown on the table and prevents the screen from turning on, even when you receive a notification,” confirms the iPhone 6s webpage.

Due to these requirements, Facedown is not supported on the following devices:

  • iPhone 4s and iPhone 5—Apple’s motion coprocessor was first introduced with the iPhone 5s and is unavailable in prior iPhone models.
  • iPads—Although some iPad models like the iPad Airs, the iPad mini 3 and 4 and the iPad Pro come outfitted with the motion coprocessor, Facedown detection cannot be supported on these devices as they don’t come with proximity sensors.
  • iPod touches—Although the sixth-generation iPod touch now includes the M8 motion coprocessor, it lacks both the ambient light and proximity sensors so Facedown detection cannot be realized in a power-efficient manner.

About motion co-processors

Apple’s motion co-processors were designed to calibrate and poll integrated accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity and compass sensors without waking up the power-hungry main central processing unit (CPU).

Beginning with the iPhone 6s and iPad Air, Apple’s motion coprocessor is now integrated within the main A9/A9X chip rather than being a separate module. In addition, it’s always on which makes possible untethered ‘Hey Siri’ functionality on these devices.

How iOS 9 saves your battery

iOS 9 employs several energy-saving techniques to extend your run time by up to an hour. In addition to core OS optimizations designed to trim battery use whenever possible, iOS 9 cuts the display power and mutes Lock screen notification alerts when your device is facedown on the table.

But that’s not all: other power-saving tactics include a new Low Power Mode which gives you up to three hours of additional run time and more granular battery-related options in the Settings app.

Are you excited about Facedown detection?

  • Joseph Apodaca

    I usually put my phone on its back so the screen/screen protector doesn’t scratch as much /:

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  • Falk M.

    Hmm… I wonder if it takes more battery to spike the processor for a quick check of the proximity sensor or if it doesn’t indeed require more energy to run the processor for displaying the notification and lighting the screen for a while.

    I don’t claim to know, but feelings-wise I don’t think it would hurt to enable this on iPhone 5 and 4s.

    • hmm so in theory it should wake itself to an extent when it is pickup and flipped over to check the time or notifications. Quite a few Android phones do this.

      • Falk M.

        That’s not what I meant.

    • Waking up the main processors from sleep state takes a lot of energy.

      • Falk M.

        Yes, but it’s woken anyways due to the notification being shown on screen, at this point you’re basically just left with the decision of should the screen turn on yes or no?
        The check whether it should (tap the sensors for a short moment) would seem more energy conserving than lighting up the screen, which we know is the most energy draining part of modern smartphones.

    • It uses the much lower Mhz processor, thus uses a whole lot of less energy.

      • Falk M.

        I’m not talking about doing it my explained way on phones that have the new generation of the M coprocessor.

  • Fede777

    The problem is that it also makes your notifications mute. I understand not turning the screen on, but muting sounds sucks.

    • [RΞCØИ1]

      In my short testing, which I could be wrong, it doesn’t mute the sound. Just the screen lighting up.

      • Fede777

        In my short testing, I sent one WhatApp message face up, screen on, sound on, face down, screen off sound off, same with Messenger.

      • [RΞCØИ1]

        Odd. I’ve received texts and Twitter alerts and there has been sound.

      • Fede777

        It’s very weird, I just put it inside my case and the screen turned on but no sound. Very random.

      • ClaudieX X

        My 6 face down messages are Screen OFF / Sound ON like [RΞCØИ1]

      • [RECØИ1]

        Is it just WhatsApp you’re seeing this with? Have you tried notifications from other apps?

      • Fede777

        I sent myselft a couple emails from Gmail and with the phone facedown I get sounds and screen on, totally random at times. Other times screen on and no sounds with facedown.

      • Fede777

        I just read in the Source blog that Motion detection in Pirvacy may be required for this to work. Gonna try it further more.

    • It does not mute sounds, it just shuts off the display when a notification comes in

  • Imad Ghandour

    iPad Air 4 doesn’t exist fix…

    • fixed

      • Imad Ghandour

        Doesn’t the iPad mini 4 have an A8 chip akin to the iPhone 6/6 plus this means having a M8 co-processor instead in an M9?

    • Chris Wagers

      Idownloadblog possibly confirms new iPad Air 4! Just messing but sounds like it would make a good article anyway. 🙂 thanks for the post Christian! Glad my iPhone 6 works as described.

  • iPhoneWINS

    well damn guess y’all have to go buy new iPhones..lol

    • Elias Chao

      I don’t think anyone would buy a newer iPhone just to get this feature :p

  • Tommy Gumbs

    If Facedown put the device to sleep…that would be cool.

  • ClaudieX X

    Christian Zibreg: info has some errors or omissions :
    M7— iPhone 5s, iPad Air and iPad mini 3 (iPad mini 2 should appear here too because it also has M7)
    M9— iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPad mini 4 and iPad Pro (iPad mini 4 has M8 not M9)

    • besrate hogsa

      you are right about the ipad mini 4
      it is funny that it is listed as if it comes with m8 or m9

  • n00b

    Wait what about iPad mini 2? It has also M7 coprocessor

  • Khalid Tahhan

    Jailbreak to the rescue. Install illlooklater to select which app notifications you want to turn on the screen and which you dont. Sounds and vibrations cone through as normal. I have it set not to turn on the screen for anything except calls.

  • Lance Baker

    Doesn’t even work on my iPhone 6.

    • Tech Intimidation

      Try looking in settings at Settings > Privacy > Motion & Fitness. If Fitness Tracking is turned off then your motion sensor is disabled and Facedown Detection might not work.

  • Steve Woolf

    I really don’t see this working for my iPhone 6 right now… I know there is no ON/OFF setting, but does this work for certain types of Notifications (SMS but not Calendar?)

    • Tech Intimidation

      Look at Settings > Privacy > Motion & Fitness. If Fitness Tracking is turned off then your motion sensor is disabled and Facedown Detection might not work.

  • Manuel Molina

    One word: jailbreak.

    If old iPhones can have it, why can’t Apple do it?

  • johnsm

    I now use my phone on low-power mode all day long

  • Eli Montoya

    Not even apples software works on Apple products

  • socrates

    That’s the first thought that popped into my head. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Daniel Waske

    Just watched the video from TI posted earlier and I’m kind of disappointed this feature doesn’t work in your pocket as this would probably also save a lot of battery…

  • @sexyhamthing

    Not using ambient light sensor?