How to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch when wearing a face mask

By Chance Miller

April 27, 2021

iOS 14.5 & watchOS 7.4

Apple has officially released iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4 to the public, bringing a major change to the integration between iPhone and Apple Watch. For the first time, you can now use your Apple Watch to unlock your iPhone when you’re wearing a face mask. 


Unlock with a mask on

To enable the Unlock with Apple Watch feature, open the Settings app on your iPhone, then look for the “Face ID & Passcode” setting. Once you flip this toggle, your Apple Watch will be able to authenticate your iPhone as long as the following conditions are met: • Face ID detects a mask • Your Apple Watch is nearby • Your Apple Watch is on your wrist • Your Apple Watch is unlocked • Your Apple Watch requires a passcode


Wrist Detection Required

Another thing to keep in mind here is that if you disable the Apple Watch wrist detection feature, then you will not be able to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch.


Unlock Every Time

Once you enable the feature, your iPhone will unlock automatically with your Apple Watch the next time you wear a face mask. When your iPhone unlocks, you’ll receive a haptic feedback notification on your Apple Watch telling you that your iPhone was unlocked by the Apple Watch. There is also the option to quickly “Lock iPhone” directly from that Apple Watch notification.


On the iPhone, Apple Watch unlock is limited solely to unlocking your iPhone while wearing your mask. It does not work if your iPhone can’t detect if you’re wearing a mask, and it does not work for things like Apple Pay, credit card auto-fill in Safari, or accessing Apple Card features in the Wallet app. In those instances, you’ll still have to enter your passcode if you’re wearing a mask.