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Google says unreliable Pixel 6 fingerprint unlock is a feature, not a bug

Google says the Pixel 6's "enhanced security algorithms" are to blame for a subpar fingerprint unlock experience.
By
November 8, 2021
The Google Pixel 6 in Sorta Seafoam color in hand showing the lock screen and display
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Google has given a reason for the lackluster performance of the Pixel 6’s fingerprint scanner.
  • The in-display fingerprint sensors are slower to unlock and less reliable than sensors on rival phones.
  • Google says this is due to the Pixel 6’s scanner offering “enhanced” security algorithms.

The Pixel 6 series of phones have been out for a couple of weeks now, but one of the complaints we had with both phones was that the in-display fingerprint sensor was simply unreliable. Both of our reviewers noted that it was slower to unlock than rival phones and that it required tapping your finger twice at times.

Now, Google has responded to user complaints regarding fingerprint authentication. Oddly enough, the Made By Google Twitter account essentially said it was slower and less reliable for security reasons:

The Pixel 6 fingerprint sensor utilizes enhanced security algorithms. In some instances, these added protections can take longer to verify or require more direct contact with the sensor.

It’s a rather interesting reason for an iffy in-display fingerprint sensor experience, but we can’t say for sure whether Google’s solution does indeed have improved security over rival smartphones. But what we can say is that many phones with in-display sensors (be they optical or ultrasonic sensors) seem to offer a much faster, more reliable unlocking experience.

There’s no word on whether Google will address the Pixel 6 fingerprint issues with a software update, but it definitely seems like something for the company to focus on. Then again, between this, the phones randomly calling contacts, and minor screen flickering issues, Google has plenty of work to do.