How to Unlock Your iPhone with a Mask on Using Your Apple Watch

Face masks are essential these days, but they make using Face ID to unlock your iPhone impossible—until now!

If you're like me, you've missed the convenience of using Apple's Face ID on your iPhone this past year, since the feature doesn't work if the user is wearing a face mask. Now, with iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4, you can unlock your iPhone using your Apple Watch while keeping your face mask on!

Related: How to Lock & Unlock an Apple Watch with Water Lock

Let's learn how to use your Apple Watch to open your iPhone while keeping your mask on. For more tips about how to unlock your Apple devices, check out our free Tip of the Day.

What You Need to Get Started

  • An iPhone X or later with Face ID updated to iOS 14.5 
  • An Apple Watch Series 3 or later updated to watchOS 7.4 
  • Your Apple Watch must be on your wrist, have a passcode, be unlocked, and be near your iPhone.

How to Use Your Apple Watch to Unlock Your iPhone (Even with a Mask On)

Here's how to enable the feature that allows you to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch:

  1. Open the Settings app.

    iphone settings app
  2. Tap Face ID & Passcode. 

    iphone face id and passcode settings
  3. Enter your iPhone's passcode.
  4. Toggle on Unlock with Apple Watch using the toggle that corresponds to your Apple Watch if there are multiple watches in the list.

    toggle on unlock with apple watch
  5. Tap Turn On to confirm you want Unlock with Apple Watch enabled.

    turn on unlock with apple watch

How It Works

Wearing your face mask over mouth and nose, attempt to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch. Your iPhone will ask for your passcode. After this, you won't need to enter your passcode again, and when you use your Apple Watch to unlock your iPhone, you'll hear a click from your watch and see a notification that your Apple Watch has unlocked your iPhone.

iphone unlocked with Apple Watch

You'll need to re-enter your iPhone passcode when you put it back on in the morning, and if you take your watch off during the day. If you are having trouble with this feature, read this to fix unlock with Apple Watch not working.

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Author Details

Leanne Hays's picture

Author Details

Leanne Hays

Leanne Hays is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life, and has written hundreds of in-depth how-to and troubleshooting articles. She's a former Associate Editor for iPhone Life magazine, and has written for the Iowa Source, as well as web content for education marketing. Leanne has an associate's degree in education, with a focus on curriculum development, as well as a bachelor's degree in science. She has over nine years of experience with SEO, social media management, and web development and writing. Despite years of web work, Leanne is by no means an early adapter; she's only owned a smartphone for five years, which makes her highly sympathetic to the learning curve of new iPhone owners. She enjoys making reader's lives easier and putting her education experience to work by walking them through the most practical ways to use Apple devices, step-by-step.

In off-work hours, Leanne is a mother of two, homesteader, audiobook fanatic, musician, and learning enthusiast.