This ultimate guide will explain how to unlock an iPhone XS or XS Max – even without FaceID or if you have forgotten the passcode.
This easy-to-follow article will explain the following iPhone XS passcode removal topics:
- Free passcode unlocking techniques.
- How to keep all your data after a passcode reset without a restore.
- Passcode unlocking without a computer.
- Recommended software tools.
- How to use recovery mode.
- The official passcode unlocking procedure.
- Unlocking iPhone XS or XS Max without Face ID or a password.
- Face ID usage and reset instructions.
Let’s start with some basic information on the iPhone XS and the screen lock system.
Although very similar to the iPhone X it replaced, there are some large differences that make the iPhone XS models unique including a 30% improvement in Face ID speed, and the A12 Bionic chip. This is why we produced this dedicated guide for iCloud unlocking this model of phone.
The iPhone XS range includes Face ID and a passcode but does not include Touch ID.
Face ID allows you to unlock your phone by just glancing at it. However, it can go wrong meaning you have to resort to using the passcode to unlock the screen. This makes it vital that you remember your iPhone XS passcode.
When you get the 4 or 6-digit passcode wrong too many times your device will be disabled. After 10 attempts in a row, your iPhone will be permanently locked and an on-screen message will say “iPhone is disabled. Connect to iTunes”.
The official iPhone passcode reset method Apple recommends erases all the data on your device. This is fine if you have a backup that you can use to restore the contents back to the phone.
But what if you don’t? Will all your data be lost forever?
There are some techniques you can use to prevent data loss and recover erased information from your iPhone in the next section.
Unlock iPhone XS without a restore or backup
As mentioned earlier, if you follow the official instructions from Apple to reset a forgotten passcode then all your data will be deleted from your iPhone XS. The idea is that you recover the erased contents from a backup.
But what if you don’t have a backup?
There are a couple of solutions you can try – one free and one paid – that will remove the passcode and recover the missing data.
There is a free unlock method that worked with older iPhone models that may work on iPhone XS.
It has quite a low success rate, but if you want a free way to unlock your passcode and keep your data – even without a restore – then it may be worth trying.
This technique uses a software tool called IPSW to hack your iPhone XS.
As shown in the video below, it is downloaded onto a PC and used to unlock the passcode without erasing the data.
For a step-by-step guide on this method and further information, see how to unlock your iPhone XS passcode for free without data loss.
If the free technique doesn’t work there is also a few paid software tool you can use to unlock the passcode and restore the lost data. You will need a computer for these to work.
|#1 LockWiper||★★★★★||Removes locks such as passcode, Face ID, Apple ID, MDM lock, & screen time lock.|
|#2 D-Back iPhone Data Recovery||★★★★★||Recovers erased data from an iOS device, iTunes, or iCloud – including photos, messages, and more…|
|★★★★||Recovers 35 deleted file types from iOS devices, iTunes, or iCloud backups.|
Regardless of the specific tool used, the paid passcode unlocking process is as follows:
- Download and install the data recovery tool of your choice. There are free trial versions available – so you can try them out before you buy them.
- Before you wipe your device, test the data recovery program on your iPhone XS to see if it will get back deleted files. If so, move on to the next step. If not, try the other tool.
- Download and install the passcode removal tool.
- Use the passcode removal tool to unlock the iPhone XS screen. The phone’s data will be wiped.
- Recover your data from the wiped phone using the data recovery tool you successfully tested in step 2.
For more in-depth instructions on unlocking iPhone XS without a backup or restore, see Unlock an iPhone passcode without a restore.
Unlock iPhone XS / XS Max without a computer (for free)
You can still unlock your iPhone XS when it is passcode locked, even if you don’t own a computer. For example, you can use a friend’s smartphone, use another Apple device you own or even ask for help in an Apple Store:
- Ask for help from a friend, family member, or colleague. Borrow their smartphone, tablet, or computer to go online using a web browser and log in to your iCloud account and erase the passcode from there.
For more information on accessing your iCloud account, see How to log in to iCloud.
- Another option is to download the Find My app onto another Apple device you own, such as an iPad. You can use the app to remotely erase your iPhone XS and remove the passcode.
- A third option is to pop into your nearest Apple Store or Apple reseller and ask them to help you perform the passcode reset using one of their computers.
For more detailed instructions on what to do, see How to unlock the passcode on an iPhone when you don’t have access to a computer.
Passcode unlocking with Find My and iCloud (for free)
When you use Find My or iCloud to unlock your iPhone XS it will erase all the data.
To avoid losing recent information permanently, it is important to check when the last iPhone backup was done on your device.
You can unlock the passcode via iCloud using any internet-connected smartphone, tablet, or computer as follows:
- On another computer, tablet, or smartphone, open a web browser and go to iCloud.com and sign in.
- If you have Two Factor Authentication turned on, you will be prompted for your authentication code.
- Once signed in, click Find iPhone.
- All the Apple devices you own will be located.
- Once your devices have been located, they will appear on a map.
- At the top of the screen, select All Devices and select your iPhone XS from the list.
- Next, click Erase iPhone to remove the passcode. This process will also remove all the data from your iOS device.
- On the dialog box that pops open, confirm you want to erase the device.
- The passcode and all the data will be removed from your iPhone.
- Once erased, set up your device and restore your iPhone data.
Using recovery mode to unlock iPhone XS devices (for free)
The officially recommended method to unlock and reset the passcode is to put your iPhone XS into Recovery Mode.
When using this technique, you need to gather the following items:
- A Mac, or a PC with Windows 8, or newer and iTunes installed.
- Your passcode locked iPhone XS.
- A USB cable to connect your phone to the computer.
To use recovery mode do the following:
- Press and hold both the side button and the Volume down button on your iPhone XS until the power-off slider appears.
- Drag the slider to turn off your device, then wait a minute to make sure it turns off completely.
- Press and hold the iPhone XS side button while immediately connecting it to the computer. Don’t let go of the button.
- Keep holding the button until you see the recovery mode screen on your iPhone, then let go. If you see the passcode screen, you need to turn off your iPhone and start again.
- Locate your iPhone in the Finder or in iTunes on the computer.
- When you see the option to Restore or Update, choose Restore. Your computer downloads software for your iPhone XS and begins the restore process. If the download takes more than 15 minutes and your device exits the recovery mode screen, let the download finish, then turn off your iPhone and start again.
- Wait for the process to finish.
- Once done, disconnect your iPhone from the computer, then set up your iPhone.
Open a locked iPhone XS or XS Max using Face ID (for free)
If you have Face ID configured on your iPhone XS, do the following:
- Tap the screen or raise your iPhone XS to wake it, then look at your iPhone. The lock icon at the top of the lock screen animates from closed to open to indicate that your device is unlocked.
- Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to use the phone.
To lock iPhone again:
- Press the side button.
If you don’t touch the screen for a minute or two, your iPhone XS locks automatically.
If you don’t have Face ID enabled, find out how to Set up Face ID on iPhone.
If Face ID doesn’t work
If you set up Face ID on your iPhone XS, but it no longer works do the following:
Check your Face ID settings
- On your iPhone, tap Settings.
- Then, tap Face ID & Passcode.
- Check Face ID is set up and turned on.
Check the front-facing camera can scan your features properly
Make sure nothing is covering the front-facing TrueDepth camera on your iPhone XS with the following checks:
- Get rid of anything that may be covering the front camera such as dirt, a case, or a screen protector
- Ensure you are not covering the front-facing TrueDepth camera with your hand.
- Make sure your face is not covered. Your eyes, nose, and mouth must be fully visible to the front TrueDepth camera.
- Make sure your eyes aren’t blocked if you’re wearing a face mask. You may need to hold your iPhone higher than normal.
- If you’re wearing sunglasses designed to block certain types of infrared light your iPhone XS won’t unlock. Try using Face ID without your sunglasses.
If none of these fixes work, check if there are any iOS updates for your iPhone.
How to fix Face ID
If you have tried the fixes above and they haven’t worked, you need to reset your Face ID on your phone.
Before you begin, make sure your face isn’t covered and you take off your sunglasses.
You can use Face ID with face masks on iPhone XS as long as you have iOS 15.4 or later installed. Face ID works best when your iPhone is approximately 10-15 inches from your face.
To reset Face ID:
- On your iPhone, tap Settings.
- Scroll down, then tap Face ID & Passcode.
- If prompted, enter the screen lock code.
- Tap Reset Face ID. This will disable Face ID security on your device.
- Return to the Home screen.
- Tap Settings.
- Then, tap Face ID & Passcode. If asked, enter your passcode. If you didn’t set a passcode, you’ll be asked to create one to use as an alternative way to verify your identity.
- Tap Set Up Face ID.
- Next, tap Get Started.
- Position your face inside the frame shown on the screen and move your head to complete a circle.
- When you’ve finished the first Face ID scan, tap Continue.
- Repeat the scan a second time.
- Tap Done.
You can unlock iPhone XS without Face ID by using the passcode you picked when you first set up your device.
Open iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max with Apple Watch
You can use a paired Apple Watch to unlock your iPhone XS by doing the following:
- On your iPhone, go to Settings
- Tap Face ID & Passcode.
- Scroll down, then below Unlock with Apple Watch turn on Apple Watch.
To unlock your iPhone XS, your Apple Watch must have a passcode, be unlocked and on your wrist, and be close to your iPhone.
If you forgot your Screen Time passcode
The Restrictions or Screen Time Passcode was created by Apple to allow parents or employers to block certain functions and features and to limit device usage.
But what if you’re the parent or administrator and you forget the iPhone XS Screen Time passcode?
Don’t panic, the Restrictions passcode can be reset as follows:
- On your device, tap Settings.
- Tap Screen Time.
- Choose Change Screen Time Passcode.
- In the pop-up window tap Change Screen Time Passcode again.
- Tap Forgot Passcode.
- You will be asked for your Apple ID and Password. If you don’t know them, see How to recover and change my Apple ID and password.
- Enter a new passcode, and verify it.
For other Screen Time reset techniques, see How to change Screen Time passcode.
Unlocking the passcode on other iPhone models
If you want to remove the passcode on a different iPhone model see:
- Unlock iPhone 13 passcode.
- How to unlock iPhone 12 without the passcode.
- Unlock forgotten iPhone 11 passcode.
- Unlock iPhone SE passcode if you forgot it.
- Passcode unlocking iPhone XR.
- How to unlock iPhone 8 without the passcode.
- iPhone X unlocking.
- How to unlock iPhone 7 without the passcode.
- How to unlock iPhone 6 without the passcode.
Related unlock guides
Beyond the passcode lock, Apple also uses Activation Lock and the carrier lock to restrict and secure their products.
Find out more about these other iPhone unlocking methods: