While all of Apple's tech used for Face ID on the iPhone X is impressive, it's still debatable whether it's more convenient than Touch ID. There are also concerns that your face could be used to track your shopping patterns or even be seen during mass surveillance by intelligence agencies. More importantly, it could be easier for law enforcement, and even thieves, to force you to unlock your iPhone.
Apple claims that Face ID is 20 times stronger than Touch ID, but no matter which one you're using, the same concern comes up: Can the police, muggers, and other would-be assailants force you to unlock your iPhone using biometric verification?
When it comes to law enforcement, we already know that it's legal for cops to make you unlock your iPhone with Touch ID as long as they have a warrant. And we can assume that the same can be said for Face ID one day. However, they cannot legally make you unlock the device using a passcode or password because of the Fifth Amendment.
So is there a way you can quickly disable Face ID in a few seconds without anybody being any wiser, to prevent law enforcement and other outsiders from using your face to unlock the device? Yes. And this was confirmed by Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, in an email correspondence with Keith Krimbel.
To disable Face ID in a pinch, just "grip the buttons on both sides" of the iPhone X when handing it over to another person. Since a screenshot uses the side button and volume up together, we can assume he means you'd need to press all three buttons — side, volume up, and volume down — simultaneously. We're not sure how long they would have to be pressed, but it should not take very long since speed is necessary when handing your device over.
On all other iPhone models in iOS 11, clicking the Sleep/Wake (power) button 5 times in a row will activate Emergency SOS, which will disable Touch ID until a passcode is entered. Since the side button on the iPhone X will have a lot more duties than the Sleep/Wake button has on other iPhone models, it's possible that this three-button press will activate Emergency SOS instead of 5 clicks.
We've reach out to Apple for clarification and will update this guide when (and if) we hear back.
Other ways to disable Face ID on the iPhone X without going into the settings are to have to many failed Face ID attempts and to shut down or restart the device, the latter of which was seen at Apple's Sept. 12 event where Federighi had to enter the passcode before being able to use Face ID on stage. However, shutting down and restarting the iPhone X isn't as easy as it is on other iPhone models, so the quick disable option above is a much better solution.
For more information about what you can do on the new iPhone X, make sure to check out our full collection of iPhone X tips and tricks.