Unlock with a password

Touch ID or Face ID to unlock your phone without needing to enter a password (passcode, PIN) is nice, but in some countries biometric authentication methods are not protected the way passwords are. In these countries, law enforcement can not compel someone to enter a password to unlock a device without a search warrant, but they can for Touch ID or Face ID.

In addition, for all people in all countries, raw biometrics data in the form of fingerprints, face scans or voice recognition, for example, is analog data until a biometric system converts it to digital data that a computer can then process. This data must be stored somewhere. The convenience of biometric authentication is only worthwhile as long as the data being stored remains secure and untapped. For single-user devices, like an iPhone, this data can be stored on the local device.

** If data is stored somewhere, it could potentially get stolen. If the worst happens and your PIN or password get stolen, you can easily change them. What are you going to do if your fingerprint or Iris scan get stolen?**

Apple can promise to ensure no one, not even Apple itself, has rights to access the biometric data. Unless the iPhone gets hacked of course. Even if that were extremely hard, identity is the most significant and valuable possession and the protection of it is crucial.

Law enforcement and Identity issues aside, while Touch ID and Face ID are convenient, both leave you vulnerable to unwanted unlocks when you are sleeping.

Temporarily disable Touch ID or Face ID

  • Go to Settings -> Emergency SOS

  • Make sure the “Call with Side Button” toggle is on (green).

  • Whenever you want to quickly disable Face ID or Touch ID, press the iPhone’s Side button five times.

  • A screen will appear that shows three sliders: power off, Medical ID, and Emergency SOS. Below them will be a cancel button.

Once this screen appears, Face ID and Touch ID are automatically disabled, and you’ll only be able to unlock your phone with your passcode (keep in mind, once you unlock it with a passcode, Face ID and Touch ID are reenabled).

Disable Touch ID or Face ID permanently

  • Go to Settings -> Touch ID & Passcode (on an iPhone X, it’s Face ID & Passcode instead). You’ll be prompted to enter your passcode.

  • On the Touch ID & Passcode page (or Face ID & Passcode page on the iPhone X), turn off all the settings in the “Use Touch ID For” section, “iPhone Unlock” and “Apple Pay” and “iTunes & App Store.”

Now, you will only be able to unlock your iPhone, use Apple Pay, or pay for purchases from iTunes and the App Store by entering your passcode. The biggest problem with this is that you are more likely to use a weak passcode for convenience. Use a more secure iPhone passcode that combines numbers and letters.