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iPhone 13 rumoured to have a major Face ID upgrade

iPhone 13 rumoured to have this face-saving feature
(Image credit: Apple)

We're less than three weeks away from the iPhone 13 launch, and now comes word of another leaked new feature. The iPhone 13's Face ID facial recognition tech will work even if you're wearing a face mask, according to FrontPageTech's Jon Prosser (via 9to5Mac).

With mask mandates still in place around the world due to the pandemic, and many still wearing masks out of choice, this feature could be a real boon in terms of day-to-day use.

Prosser cites internal sources at Apple, and says the firm's employees have tested the feature while wearing both a mask and fogged-up glasses.

However, it's not as simple as flicking a switch in the iPhone's internals. Rather, it requires an fresh sensor array that bypasses the regular Face ID array. Apple is apparently testing this using a sensor-equipped case it has developed that fits around the iPhone 12. The new sensor arrangement matches the array layout spotted in some leaked CAD files for the iPhone 13 that emerged in June.

The front-facing camera is on the left side of this array. On the iPhone 12's, it is on the right.

Masks do pose a problem to facial recognition on smartphones. Back in April, Apple released a software update that let users unlock their iPhones using their Apple Watches, just as they can their Mac computers. But this new innovation would be a fix for all iPhone users, not just those who also own Apple Watches.

Whether we'll see this feature available at launch, or it arrives later as a software update, we'll just have to wait and see...

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Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.