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Don’t worry, the Pixel 7 fingerprint scanner is totally fine

The Pixel 6 in-display reader was a bust at launch, but the Pixel 7 is just fine.
By
October 12, 2022

When Google launched the Pixel 6 series in 2021, it was the most exciting Pixel launch in years. For the first time, Google was launching flagship phones with genuinely flagship-level hardware. However, one of those features was of a not-so-flagship tier: the fingerprint scanner. Within days after the full launch of the phones, word hit the internet that the in-display reader was slow, inaccurate, and generally unreliable.

Over the past year, Google has issued plenty of software updates that addressed this problem. Today, the Pixel 6’s scanner is actually not that bad. It’s not the best out there — not by a long shot — but it’s not as frustrating as it was on launch day.

With this all in mind, you might be wondering how the Google Pixel 7 fingerprint scanner stacks up. Over the past week, I’ve been using a Google Pixel 7 Pro as my daily driver. I’ve been able to compare it to a whole slew of other phones, including the Google Pixel 6.

I can now say, without any hesitation, that the Pixel 7 Pro’s fingerprint scanner is fine. In fact, I think it’s great. Google has clearly fixed the problems of the Pixel 6!

Faster and more accurate

google pixel 6 vs google pixel 7 in hand
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Anecdotally, my experience with the Pixel 7 Pro’s fingerprint scanner has been great. It unlocks pretty much every time and I haven’t seen it be noticeably slower than the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s, which has been my daily driver for the past year. Other team members at Android Authority who have been using a Pixel 7 phone report the same thing: the fingerprint sensor has given them no issues at all.

Compared to the Pixel 6, the Pixel 7 Pro unlocked faster every single time.

If that anecdotal evidence isn’t enough, though, my colleague Ryan McLeod and I performed a bunch of tests on the Google Pixel 7 fingerprint scanner. We kept it simple: we placed the Pixel 7 Pro on a table next to a Pixel 6 and tried unlocking both phones at the same time with a slow-motion video camera pointing at them. I unlocked the Pixel 7 Pro with one hand and the Pixel 6 with the other to avoid any disparity between two people trying to get in sync. The intention was to roll back the slow-mo footage and see if the Pixel 7 Pro unlocked faster.

However, we didn’t even need to roll it back in slow-motion to see what was happening. Each time we did the test, the Pixel 7 Pro was visibly faster by the naked eye. We did the test over a dozen times to ensure that we weren’t just getting flukes, but it didn’t matter. The Pixel 7 Pro was on its home screen before the Pixel 6 every time. Check out the video at the top of this article to see this in action.

See also: The best phones with in-display fingerprint scanners

Now, to be clear, it’s not like the Google Pixel 7 fingerprint scanner is seconds faster than the Pixel 6. The Pixel 7 Pro won every bout, but the Pixel 6 was right behind it. In other words, Google really has made the Pixel 6 scanner quicker through software updates over the past year.

Also, do note that we never faced a problem with the Pixel 7 Pro unlocking and the Pixel 6 rejecting the read. Both phones unlocked every time, so accuracy is up on the Pixel 6 as well.

Overall, though, the Pixel 7 Pro is definitively better on Day One than the Pixel 6 after a year of fixes, so whatever hardware problems Google faced on its 2021 phones have not carried over to the Pixel 7 series.

Google Pixel 7 fingerprint scanner: Not an issue anymore

Google Pixel 7 display outdoors
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

We know there were a lot of folks out there who skipped the Pixel 6 series specifically because of the fingerprint scanner. In fact, we even heard from several Android Authority readers at the time that they bought a Pixel 6 and then returned it specifically because the scanner was so poor. Thankfully, potential buyers don’t need to worry about that this time around. It’s far from the best in-display fingerprint reader we’ve ever seen, but it’s perfectly serviceable.

Also, keep in mind that the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro come with Face Unlock. This is not a true biometric scan like we saw with the Pixel 4 series; it will unlock your phone but it won’t work as a way to approve contactless payments, for example. However, it does exist as a secondary way to unlock your phone, so even if you’re not thrilled with the Google Pixel 7 fingerprint scanner, you have an easy alternative.

If you need to return the Pixel 7, it probably wouldn't be due to the fingerprint scanner.

Finally, there’s every reason to believe that Google will improve the scanner over time. If the Pixel 6 is any indication, Google’s future software tweaks could make the scanner faster and more accurate.

While there may be other reasons you might want to pick up a different phone instead of the Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 Pro, the fingerprint reader shouldn’t be one of them.

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