How to Set up Android Face Recognition

Unlock your Android device with your face

What to Know

  • Go to Settings > Security > Biometrics > Face Recognition, or search for Face Recognition in Settings.
  • After your face is registered, go to Face Recognition again and make sure the Face Unlock toggle is On.
  • On Google Pixels, go to Settings > Security > Face Unlock > Set up Face Unlock.

This article explains how to set up Android face recognition on your phone or tablet. The instructions apply to devices running Android 10 and later.

Older Androids use features called Smart Lock and Trusted Face, which have been discontinued in newer models.

How to Unlock an Android Device With Face Recognition

The steps for setting up face recognition differ slightly depending on your device's model, but here's how it works on most Androids:

The screenshots below are taken from a Samsung Galaxy S20. Your menu options may look different. If you have trouble finding the Face Recognition feature, search for it in the Settings app.

  1. Go to your Android Settings and tap Security (Security & privacy or Security & Location in some versions of Android).

  2. Tap Biometrics.

  3. Tap Face Recognition.

    Before you can activate face recognition, you must first set up Screen Lock.

    Security and privacy, Biometrics, and Face recognition in Android Settings
  4. Enter your password, PIN, or pattern.

  5. Tap Continue.

  6. Hold your device in front of you and position it so your entire face is inside the circle, then hold the device still as your phone records your face.

    If your camera is struggling to detect your face, seek out better indoor lighting conditions.

  7. After your face is registered, tap Face Recognition again.

  8. Make sure the Face Unlock toggle is switched On.

    Features such as facial hair, glasses, and piercings can confuse face identifiers. To improve Android face recognition, tap Add alternative appearance to enhance recognition.

    Continue, Face Recognition, and Face unlock on iPhone Settings

The next time your device locks, notice the silhouette icon at the bottom of the screen. This indicates your camera is searching for a face. If it recognizes you, the icon will become an open padlock. Swipe it to unlock your device.

How to Set Up Face Unlock on Google Pixel

Face Unlock is available for Google Pixel 4, Pixel 7, and Pixel 7 Pro. The steps to set it up are more straightforward.

  1. Go to your Android Settings and tap Security.

  2. Tap Face Unlock or Face & Fingerprint Unlock.

  3. Enter your password, PIN, or pattern.

  4. Tap Face Unlock or Set up Face Unlock. Hold your device in front of you as your phone records your face.

On the Pixel 4, face recognition can be used to unlock your phone, make payments, and sign in to apps. On Pixel 7, face recognition can only be used to unlock your device.

How to Disable Face Recognition

To disable Android face recognition, go to Settings > Security > Biometrics > Face Recognition > Remove face data > Remove.

Remove face data and Remove in iPhone Settings

How Reliable Is Android Face Recognition?

Face recognition systems rely on different methods like thermal imaging, 3D face mapping, and skin surface texture analysis to identify distinctive facial features. Although face recognition systems occasionally fail to recognize someone, they very rarely misidentify a person. That said, Android face recognition can be tricked if someone holds a picture of you in front of your device's camera.

On Android devices, fingerprint and voice recognition are more secure options for locking and unlocking. Nonetheless, anyone who knows your password, PIN, or pattern can still access your device even if you have had these extra features enabled. Face unlock is really more of a convenience than a security feature, but it can come in handy when you need to access your phone quickly. If you're worried about your privacy, consider downloading some security apps for Android.

More Android Face Identifier Apps

Face recognition technology has more uses than unlocking your device. For example, some law enforcement officials now use an app called FaceFirst to identify criminal suspects. Other facial recognition apps like iObit Applock and FaceLock improve upon the built-in capabilities of Android face recognition.

Android Tablets and Phones With Face Recognition

Today, most smartphones have face recognition capabilities. Some Android phones come with built-in systems that enhance the face recognition feature. Consult your device's documentation for additional information on setting up face lock. If you want to purchase a new device with reliable face recognition, your best bet is an iPhone or iPad since iOS is more secure than Android overall.

  • How do I bypass face recognition on Android?

    You can bypass Android face recognition with your PIN. If you're locked out of your device, you can reset the lock screen PIN remotely with Google Find My Device or Samsung Find My Mobile.

  • Why did face recognition stop working on my Android phone?

    If face recognition isn't working on Android, clean the front camera, remove any accessories you're wearing (glasses, mask, etc.), and turn on Brighten Screen in the face recognition settings. If you still have trouble, remove and re-register your face.

Was this page helpful?