One of the most requested iPhone 13 features could actually be coming

We're mere weeks away from the next iPhone release (assuming it drops in the traditional September slot), and the rumour mill has officially reached fever pitch. But there's still time for a few surprises – and this latest rumour claims we could finally be getting one of the most requested features of the last couple of years.

A new report suggests Apple is finally working on a way to make Face ID work while wearing a face mask. As many users have discovered the hard way since 2020, Face ID isn't exactly pandemic-proof. Indeed what use is one of the best camera phones if you can't unlock it while wearing the most essential fashion accessory of the last 18 months?

iPhone Face ID

Face ID isn't exactly pandemic-proof (Image credit: Apple/Future owns)

Front Page Tech (opens in new tab) claims Apple is working on new Face ID hardware, which it is testing "with a COVID-like landscape in mind". The company has allegedly developed an external prototype case (below) for the iPhone which contains a new Face ID setup – allowing the iPhone to bypass its built-in Face ID camera in favour of the new version.

iPhone Face ID prototype render

A 3D render of the prototype Face ID case (Image credit: Front Page Tech)

Of course, the final tech would likely be built into the phone itself, with this external version existing for testing purposes. We can't imagine Apple bolting an unsightly extra camera onto the top of the iPhone (that said, after the unsightly MagSafe Battery Pack, who knows?).

The report claims that employees are "being asked to wear masks AND glasses to test the new hardware." Some tests are conducted with masks on and off, while others are conducted with various combinations of glasses and masks.

iPhone Face ID prototype case render

(Image credit: Front Page Tech)

This can only be good news for iPhone users. As anyone who has ever tried paying for groceries with their phone while wearing a mask will attest, Face ID isn't up to scratch right now. Many have been crying out for Touch ID to return – first launched with 2013's iPhone 5S, the fingerprint scanner was removed in favour of Face ID for 2017's iPhone X. But the company probably wasn't banking on us all wearing face coverings three years later, judging by the makeshift workarounds it's had to implement to make Face ID actually, you know, work.

iPhone 13 render

A recent render of the upcoming iPhone 13 (Image credit: the Hacker 34 on YouTube)

Indeed, we've heard plenty of rumours that Apple is planning to bring back Touch ID, which wouldn't be a huge surprise after it resurrected the tech for the iPad Air 4 last year. But moving backwards isn't very Apple – we can imagine the company would much rather get Face ID right rather than replace it altogether. That said, we've seen a few backtracks from the company, most recently with that controversial iOS 15 Safari redesign.

Time will tell whether the new Face ID tech will arrive in time for this year's new iPhone. But don't forget, while we've already heard tons of exciting iPhone 13 rumours and leaks, the iPhone 12 is still an incredibly solid option. Check out today's best deals below, and be sure to visit our Apple Back to School deals page for more brilliant offers.

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Daniel Piper
Senior News Editor

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).