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Some CPAP masks are confusing Face ID on iPhone 13, but they still work on older iPhones

How to use Face ID on the iPhone X
How to use Face ID on the iPhone X (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple's iPhone 13 handsets are not working correctly when users try to use Face ID while wearing some CPAP masks.
  • Reports suggest the iPhone 13 devices believe they don't have a clear enough view of the face for Face ID to work.
  • The same masks work fine with older devices, including iPhone X.

Apple's new iPhone 13 is already causing a stir, but not necessarily for the right reasons. The best iPhone ever is causing headlines once more, this time because it's actually the worst iPhone for people who have to wear a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) mask.

CPAP masks are worn by people with respiratory issues and while some wear the masks overnight, others have to wear them almost constantly. Now, it appears some masks are causing issues with Face ID — but only on iPhone 13 handsets.

According to a 9to5Mac report, Colin Hughes is someone who suffers from muscular dystrophy and needs his CPAP mask to breathe. Unfortunately, new iPhones don't seem to allow Face ID to function with a mask in place while, oddly, older iPhones work just fine.

Apple has clearly been tinkering with Face ID in light of Covid masks but it's come at great cost to accessibility for people like me.In trying to set up a new face on the iPhone 13 Pro it says "Face obscured try removing anything that maybe covering your face". If I do that I will suffocate! I don't have a plan B.

To get around the issue, for now at least, Hughes is resorting to using an old iPHone X instead of the iPhone 13 Pro he just picked up, all because of Face ID.

It isn't immediately clear whether the issue is software-related, or if it's somehow a byproduct of Apple's rejigging of its Face ID system for the new iPhones. Whatever the reason, Hughes is left unable to use Face ID on a device he just bought. Let's hope Apple can fix things with a software update soon.

This isn't the first iPhone 13 issue to crop up, either. Apple has already confirmed an issue that prevents Apple Watches from unlocking iPhone 13 handsets, another feature that is tangentially related to Face ID. Apple has confirmed a fix for that issue will arrive in a future update.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

3 Comments
  • For the record, I use a CPAP mask, and Facetime has never worked, so it's not just the iPhone 13. I will look forward to a fix, but I'm not losing sleep over this either.
  • I work in a hospital. Just got my 13 Pro Max coming from Android. No FaceID ever with a mask on so far. Not a big deal.
  • But you can disable Face ID and just use a passcode, right?