The advent of Face ID has ushered in a new era of convenience in biometric security. It’s also prompted privacy-minded folks to contemplate potential scenarios where police officers may attempt to unlock a confiscated iPhone X by holding the device up to the owner’s face.

Like with Touch ID, Face ID can be disabled quickly and discreetly at any time, even when the phone is in your pocket, with a quick and useful shortcut.

When disabled that way, Face ID stays off until you type in your passcode.

How to temporarily disable Face ID

To temporarily disable Face ID, do the following:

1) Press and hold the Side button and either Volume button.

2) After a second or so, up pops the “Slide to power off” screen with a pair of quick options for powering down the device or initiating a call to your local emergency services.

As soon as you summon this screen, iOS temporarily disables the Face ID feature.

Your face remains registered and Face ID is still turned on in Settings, but you can no longer unlock the phone with your face until your passcode is entered on the Lock screen.

3) Tap Cancel at the bottom or press the Side button again to dismiss this screen.

TIP: To prevent the “Slide to power off” screen from starting a countdown timer and playing a loud alert sound that indicate that an emergency call is about to be placed automatically, disable the option labeled Auto-Call in Settings → Emergency SOS.

And there you go, boys and girls.

TUTORIAL: How to disable Touch ID discreetly

Temporarily disabling Face ID before nap time is the best way to make sure that no one can unlock your phone by scanning your face while you’re asleep—which is why you should never disable Face ID’s Attention Awareness capability.

But what about the police?

Legal gray area

In the United States, law enforcement agencies cannot legally compel you to give them your passcode or type it in yourself—that’s why you should memorize this helpful shortcut.

You never know if you’ll find yourself in an unfortunate position where a thief or a police officer may coerce you into unlocking the phone with Face ID. As an extra layer of protection, you’ll find this shortcut especially useful at the US border control to prevent warrantless searches.

Such situations are always stressful and you may not even have the chance to hold those buttons while pulling the phone out of your pocket. In that case, be sure to look away while handing your iPhone X over to an officer to avoid unlocking it accidentally with a glance.

Could police officers force someone they’ve arrested to look into their iPhone X to unlock it?

This is a bit of a murky legal area.

We know that the Fifth Amendment protects US citizens from having to give up information that could incriminate them, like a password or PIN code. Your facial scan (or thumbprint in the case of Touch ID), however, isn’t something you “know” the way your passcode is.

The US government currently does not leverage search warrants to compel criminals to unlock phones secured with biometric authentication, but don’t count on it. Legal uncertainty surrounding biometric authentication on smartphones is one of the most compelling reasons to memorize this handy gesture, just in case.

Need help? Ask iDB!

If you like this how-to, pass it along to your support folks and leave a comment below.

Got stuck? Not sure how to do certain things on your Apple device? Let us know via help@iDownloadBlog.com and a future tutorial might provide a solution.

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  • Vinnie Bones

    Crooked ass pigs will force you

    • pigs can’t force you to give them your passcode, that’s why this shortcut is useful

    • DT

      Dont do anything to give them a reason to. Pretty damn simple, if you weren’t so damn thickheaded.

      • Vinnie Bones

        Tf you’re talking about..? don’t act like you know me!! FOH!!

      • DT

        I don’t have to know you to know that you’re an idiot

      • Vinnie Bones

        I don’t even have an iPhone X.. maybe you’re one of them crooked pigs, that’s why you’re so butthurt.. figures. hhahaha

      • DT

        Why not? Is it not one of the approved Obama phones?

        And I honestly couldn’t care less what scum like you think ?

      • Vinnie Bones

        Yeeeett, you still commented and replied to my comment? Sure. I ain’t no b&$tch so I’m not gonna drag this convo. Go ahead and reply like a little… you are.

      • DT

        Actually you are. Call them pigs all you want but I guarantee they’re the first ones your callin when you get your ass beat trying to act like a hard ass. Clown

  • Ruck

    Hmmm running 11.2 on IphoneX and can’t find the auto-call option at all

    EDIT:
    I’m an idiot…..found it l lol

  • nonchalont

    The police are not your friends. I get they have a job to do by upholding the law, but they will ruin your life if you’re around any illegal activity. To be safe, don’t do or be around illegal activity, even though some illegal activity is lame, such as possession or sell of a drug. If a person wants to do drugs or buy them, so be it. It’s their life. I personally don’t sell or use, however I’m liberal on a lot of matters. Although I’ve experimented with the maryjane back in my hayday. But this is a good trick to lock your device, because sometimes people will do illegal activity without even knowing they are.

  • Icebox766

    Re border patrol, if they want to see your phone, and they ask you to open it, and you don’t, you’re asking for a world of trouble. US border Guards are allowed to do suspicionless searches, and seize people and property with a far lower standard than police normally get. Refusing to open your phone risks getting detained, or letting you go and they keep your phone for a week or so. So better move if there’s anything incriminating on your phone is to not bring it across the border. Use a burner and cooperate with a smile. “Of course officer, here you go.”

  • Kubaton

    Articles like this are ridiculous. The authors act like police are just looking for a way to get into your devices. In my 20 years in law enforcement, not once, let me reiterate that, NOT ONCE, have I ever seen an officer try to trick someone into getting into their phone. Does it happen? I’m sure it does, but it’s RARE. There’s these things called the 4th amendment and search warrants that are part of the legal process, but I understand the cool thing to do these days is bash the police. And for an author to refer to the police as “pigs” is utterly ridiculous.

    • From my experience traveling around the world in countries with far less care for human rights as the US or most first world countries, I can tell you there are many “layers” of law enforcement that you don’t want to deal with. It can be a border agent in Vietnam, or a police officer in Mexico, or maybe just some random security guy in Burma pressuring you to unlock your phone. Some of these people don’t have the same sense of privacy as we might enjoy in the US.

      • Kubaton

        That’s fair enough, but since the article only mentions the US I assumed that’s what it was referring to.