Probably the single most important new feature of the iPhone X, its Face ID that users will use tens or hundreds of times to unlock their phones every day, had failed.
At least that’s what most people thought when Apple’s Craig Federighi went up on stage to give the first official iPhone X demo to millions of viewers.
“Unlocking it is as easy as looking at it and swiping up,” Federighi said and picked up the phone. “And, you know…”
And viewers knew that something was wrong because suddenly Federighi was all worried and sweating.
Face ID did not recognize his face. He turned off the screen and gave it a second try. “Enter Passcode. Your passcode is required to enabled Face ID,” a familiar message popped up on the phone.
“Ho ho ho! Let’s go to backup here!” Federighi exclaimed and quickly took a grab of another iPhone X sitting nearby.
Luckily, everything went fine with that second unit. So… what happened?
Yahoo’s David Pogue reached out to Apple to clarify and it turns out that it might not have been a Face ID fail at all. Instead, something else had happened.
Interestingly, while it takes five failed attempts for Touch ID to lock an iPhone and require a passcode, developer documentation reveals that only two failed Face ID attempts will result in a passcode request. You can watch what happened on stage with Apple’s Face ID demo in the video right below, starting at the 4:11 mark.