Now many were quick to assume that this proved that Face ID was not what Apple had initially promised, but Apple has since issued a statement to Yahoo (via 9to5Mac) explaining what had gone wrong. According to the statement, “People were handling the device for stage demo ahead of time and didn’t realize Face ID was trying to authenticate their face. After failing a number of times, because they weren’t Craig, the iPhone did what it was designed to do, which was to require his passcode.”
This is actually similar to what happens when someone else tries to log into your phone using Touch ID and failing multiple times, in which users would have to enter the passcode in order to unlock the device. In fact the screen shown during the demo pretty much stated that, but perhaps it was missed by many.
Some did speculate correctly that this might have been the cause of the hiccup, and the statement from Apple does clear that up. However we should note that there have been some early hands-on reports that did suggest that Face ID did run into some issues, but we guess we’ll have to wait until November before we can test it out for ourselves.