How to Disable Your Phone’s Fingerprint and Facial Recognition (Android/iOS)

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You should seriously consider disabling your phone's fingerprint and facial recognition features. 

While using your finger or face to unlock your phone is usually easier than typing in a passcode or drawing a screen pattern, these biometrics-based security systems aren’t without their drawbacks. 

In the case of facial recognition, it isn’t even particularly secure.

Face Unlock on Android devices can be bypassed with a photo and Face ID on the iPhone X can be unlocked by family members (even when they don’t look particularly alike) and even masks.  If you have an identical (and evil) twin, you’re really in trouble.

The problems with fingerprint scanning relate to their legal status. In short, police cannot force you to unlock your phone with a passcode, but you can be required to unlock it with your finger.

Though the legal precedent hasn’t been set, we wouldn’t be surprised to see this same requirement extend to facial recognition in the near future.

Even if you don’t have anything incriminating on your phone, most people still don’t want the police – or anyone else, for that matter – snooping through their texts, emails, and photos.

Fortunately, you can disable fingerprint and facial recognition on your phone temporarily, if you’re going to be in a situation where you could be searched (like going through TSA at the airport), or permanently, if you just don’t want to rely on them for your security period.

Keep reading to find out how.

How to Disable Fingerprint and Facial Recognition on an Android Phone

There are two methods to disable fingerprint and facial recognition on an Android. 
 

1) In Your Phone’s Settings

To disable the features somewhat completely:

  • Go to Settings > Lock Screen and Security > Screen Lock Type and turn off the options under Biometrics  

To disable the feature temporarily in Android Pie or P (not available in Oreo or older versions):

  1. Go to Settings > Security & Location > Lock screen preferences and turn on Show lockdown option
  2. Activate lockdown by holding down the power button and pressing Enter lockdown
  3. While in lockdown, your phone can only be unlocked with your passcode or swipe pattern 
     

2) Use Tasker App to Create System Lock

  1. Open the Tasker app (you will have to buy it for $2.99 in the Google Play store if you haven’t already)
  2. Use Display > System Lock to create a System Lock task
  3. Use the task shortcut to lock your phone

How to Disable Fingerprint and Facial Recognition on an iPhone

Here’s how to disable the fingerprint and facial recognition features on an iPhone. You have a number of options. 
 

1) In the Phone’s Settings

To disable the feature somewhat permanently:

  • Go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode / Face ID & Passcode and turn off iPhone Unlock 
     

2) With a Reboot

  1. Turn off your phone
  2. Turn it back on
  3. Phone will require passcode to unlock for the first time after a restart 
     

3) With the Power and Volume Buttons

In iPhone 5s through 7:

  1. Hit the power button five times
  2. When phone vibrates and gives option to power off or use Emergency SOS, hit Cancel
  3. You now have to enter passcode to unlock

In iPhone 8 and above:

  1. Hold down the power button and either volume button
  2. When phone vibrates and gives option to power off, Emergency SOS, or Medical ID, hit Cancel
  3. You now have to enter passcode to unlock 
     

4) By Using Siri

With the Listen for “Hey Siri” feature enabled:

  1. While phone is locked, say “Hey Siri, whose phone is this?”
  2. You now have to enter passcode to unlocked

Note: This only works if you activate Siri with “Hey Siri”, not with the home button.


Conclusion

Fingerprint and facial recognition technology are pretty cool, but sometimes a good ol’ passcode just can’t be beat, especially if you want to keep the contents of your phone hidden and safe, even from the authorities.

Whether you disable fingerprint and facial recognition on your phone permanently or temporarily will depend on your circumstances. But you now have a number of ways for doing so.

Top Tip

To further improve your Android phone’s or iPhone’s security, consider subscribing to one of the best VPN services for Android or for iOS.

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