News: Does Face ID Work When Your iPhone 11, 11 Pro, or 11 Pro Max Is Flat on a Table?

Does Face ID Work When Your iPhone 11, 11 Pro, or 11 Pro Max Is Flat on a Table?

While there is a lot to love about Apple's latest suite of iPhone models, the real draw comes down to the cameras. The iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max all have killer rear camera systems, but the front camera was also improved. Apple claims Face ID works at more angles than before in these models, which begs the question: can you unlock your iPhone when it's flat on a table?

Overall, Face ID has been and is a great feature. That said, it can be frustrating when your iPhone is flat on a table and you want to check it quickly. With Touch ID, you don't need to move much — place your finger over the scanner, and your iPhone will unlock. Face ID, however, requires you to lean over your iPhone to authenticate yourself with the TrueDepth camera, which can be a bit of a pain.

So, what's the verdict with the new iPhone models? Well, I can only speak to the 11 Pro I have in front of me, but since the 2019 variants all have the same front camera system, I feel confident in saying this: No, you can't unlock your iPhone when it's flat on a table.

In fact, I hardly notice a difference at all when it comes to the 11 Pro's supposedly higher range of Face ID angles. I put the iPhone XS in one hand and the 11 Pro in the other, and desperately tried to outmatch the older iPhone. Alas, the XS held its own, unlocking at virtually every angle the 11 Pro could.

That conclusion is consistent with other reviewers of the new iPhone devices. Marques Brownlee, for example, expressed his disappointment with the devices' inability to unlock from a flat position. He does confirm Apple's assertion that Face ID unlocks slightly faster than previous models — Apple claims up to 30% faster unlock speeds — but I haven't noticed a big difference.

iPhone 11 Pro (left) vs. iPhone XS (right). Image by Jake Peterson/Gadget Hacks

If your sole reason for upgrading your iPhone X, XS, XS Max, or XR to a new iPhone comes down to this question of unlocking, you're going to be let down. That said, there are plenty of new features and changes that are worth your while. Heck, the new front-facing camera might not read your face much better, but it can shoot 4K 60 fps or 1080p 120 fps slo-mo. Slofies, anyone?

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Cover image by Jake Peterson/Gadget Hacks

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