We Tried To Fool iPhone X's Face ID — Here's How It Performed Under Pressure

Twins, newly grown beards, and caked on makeup — these are the three things Twitter users jumped on in the seconds after Apple announced that the iPhone X would replace Touch ID with a supposedly more secure feature, Face ID. Surely, many people speculated, one of those things could trip up Face ID and prevent you from unlocking your phone (or worse, incorrectly unlock it for someone else).
Evil twin jokes aside, their concerns are valid ones. If you pay the hefty $999 price tag, you want the iPhone X to be able to distinguish you from your genetic lookalike and recognize you're the same person even if you have a hat or a dramatic cat eye on.
Advertisement
In my first day with the iPhone X, I was impressed with Face ID. Compared to my tests with the facial recognition function on Samsung's Galaxy S8+, iPhone X was far easier to use — I was easily able to unlock my phone even when holding it off to the side or down by my waist.
Still, I was curious about how iPhone X would respond to various dramatic makeup and hair looks. Could the phone's TrueDepth Camera, which Apple says projects over 30,000 invisible dots to create a depth map of your face, still distinguish me after an over-the-top makeover? With the help of a hairstylist and makeup artist from GlamSquad, I put iPhone X's Face ID to the test and kept score while hamming it up along the way.
1 of 6
Photographed by Madeline Buxton.
Starting Look

Before the GlamSquad team went to work, I reset the Face ID on my iPhone X review unit to ensure that it was starting with a blank slate. Face ID gets smarter over time, adapting to changes in your appearance such as a haircut, and I didn't want anything the phone had learned about me over the past few days to affect the test.

This portrait mode selfie (another new feature on iPhone X) reflects how I look on a daily basis — minimal makeup, minimal hair. iPhone X had no problem unlocking after I reset Face ID with this look.

Starting Scorecard
iPhone X: 0

Makeup Trick: 0
2 of 6
Photographed by Madeline Buxton.
"I Just Woke Up" Look

The first test: Could curlers and contour throw off Face ID? Impressively, no. When I tapped the screen to wake and held up iPhone X it recognized me instantly.

iPhone X: 1

Makeup Trick: 0
Advertisement
3 of 6
Photographed by Madeline Buxton.
"It's My First Day Of School" Look

Pigtails, glasses, and freckles were sort of a match for iPhone X. When I held up the phone, it didn't unlock on the first try and I needed to enter my pin. However, the second time around, it identified me in a flash. This was iPhone X's learning at work: My glasses likely threw off Face ID slightly, but once I entered my pin, it adapted to this part of my appearance.

iPhone X: 1.5

Makeup Trick: .5
4 of 6
Photographed by Madeline Buxton.
Glam Marilyn Look

Not even giant false eyelashes that made my eyes feel like bricks, a bright red lip, or retro curls could fool iPhone X's Face ID. It could tell that despite my best attempts, I was no Hollywood vixen.

iPhone X: 2.5

Makeup Trick: .5
5 of 6
Photographed by Madeline Buxton.
Punk Rocker Look

Surely, I thought, a Marilyn Manson inspired look, complete with glitter lips and grungy eyes, would mess with Face ID. I thought wrong. No amount of black eyeshadow could trick iPhone X into thinking I was someone else.

iPhone X: 3.5

Makeup Trick: .5
6 of 6
Back To Normal

The ruling at the end of my caked-on makeup testing was clear: iPhone X's Face ID could pick me out of a lineup, no matter what trickery I tried.

Even with the small glasses hiccup, Face ID's ability to learn and adapt to my different looks was notable in this trial. I've also been impressed with it during the last few days of assessing the phone and looking for any apparent weaknesses. (Other media outlets have put the twin effect to the test and come out with varying results.)

Once the makeup was off and I was back to my normal appearance, I held up X to unlock it and went about business as usual.
Advertisement