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Pixel 8a has secure Face Unlock, just like Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro

This is an exceptional feature for a $500 phone.

Published onMay 7, 2024

  • The Google Pixel 8a’s Face Unlock has the same Class 3 biometric security as the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.
  • This means using Face Unlock on the Pixel 8a is just as secure as using a fingerprint scanner.
  • This now makes the Pixel 8a one of only three phones in the US that can do this (and also makes it the cheapest).

When it comes to unlocking your phone, things have been fairly consistent: mainline iPhone users use Face ID with no option for a fingerprint scan, while Android users use fingerprint scans with only an insecure option for Face Unlock. The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro were the first flagship phones in the United States that supported both. Now, the Pixel 8a joins the exclusive club.

The Pixel 8a, announced today, features many of the same specs and features as the Pixel 8. Consequently, it makes sense that Class 3 Face Unlock would be supported, but Google didn’t mention it in any of its promotional materials — not even the exhaustive official specs sheet. It was only when we asked that Google confirmed support, which is strange considering how unique of a feature this is.

Regardless, you’ll be able to use either your fingerprint or your face to do ultra-secure smartphone things like access banking apps, prepare for contactless payments, etc. This is possible thanks to onboard AI, which uses the data gleaned from the selfie camera to create a secure mapping of your face, one that can’t be easily spoofed. In our experience, using Face Unlock on the Pixel 8 series has been great — it’s fast and convenient. We can only imagine the experience on the Pixel 8a will be similar, but we’ll let you know when we publish our full review.

In case you’re saying, “Hey, the Pixel 4 series had secure Face Unlock,” that is true. However, those phones skipped fingerprint sensors. Also, they had multiple front sensors for the 3D mapping, which is why they had such chunky top bezels. This is also why iPhones need to have a big ol’ Dynamic Island on the front instead of a tiny solitary lens, like the Pixel 8 series.

The Pixel 8a is available to pre-order now for $499 and will be available in stores on May 14.

Google Pixel 8a
Google Pixel 8a
AA Editor's Choice
Google Pixel 8a
Rich OLED display • Tons of Tensor G3-powered features • Pixel-pedigree cameras
MSRP: $499.00
Best possible Pixel experience for the price.
With the Pixel 8a, Google put all of its focus on value. A 6.1-inch display is backed by the Tensor G3 chip and decent specifications, a 64MP main camera is backed by most of Google's latest AI-powered features, and a 7-year update promise will keep this moderately priced phone ticking for years to come.
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