Apple's awkward glitch during its iPhone X introduction wasn't the fault of its own phone but its staff, the company has claimed.

As the company was showing off the brand new handset's top feature – its facial recognition technology – software boss Craig Federighi headed over to demonstration just how "easy" it was. But, uncomfortably, the feature failed and the phone wouldn't unlock, leading Mr Federighi to use a backup phone.

The event was particularly unhelpful for Apple because many have taken it as evidence that the company's facial recognition technology isn't actually read. There have been pervasive fears that Face ID will be less reliable than the fingerprint-based Touch ID, which were foother boosted after the demonstration went wrong.

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But Apple said that the feature is working just fine, and the problem was with the handling of the phone before it was demonstrated. As with the fingerprint sensor, the biometric technology is trained not to let people try to unlock it too many times – and if too many people try, it will shut itself off, forcing people to input a passcode as a security feature.

While the demo was being set up, Apple said, a lot of people were picking the iPhone X up and putting it back down again. It thought each of those was someone trying to get into the phone, and so it shut itself down.

“People were handling the device for stage demo ahead of time,” an Apple spokesperson told Yahoo, “and didn’t realise 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. Face ID worked as it was designed to.”

Apple claims that the Face ID technology will actually authenticate instantly. It has also looked to fend off other worries, like people using photographs or masks of people's faces.

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