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Exclusive: Google is finally adding an ultrasonic fingerprint reader to the Pixel 9

The Pixel 9 is getting one of the most eagerly awaited upgrades.
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Published onJuly 4, 2024

Google Pixels haven’t always been perfect, occasionally suffering fundamental issues that persist throughout several generations. Some of the best-known examples included the use of outdated camera sensors, lack of ultrawide cameras, no uniform bezels, and extremely slow charging speeds.

Thankfully, Google eventually addressed all of those examples. The Pixel 9 series is set to fix another long-lasting Pixel problem — the slightly slow and sometimes unreliable under-display fingerprint sensor. Thanks to a source familiar with the matter, Android Authority has learned that Google plans to use an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner in its upcoming devices.

Upgrading to ultrasonic

Google Pixel 7 Pro on screen fingerprint reader stock photo 1
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Google first switched to under-display fingerprint scanners with the Pixel 6 — before that, it has always used traditional rear-mounted sensors. Unfortunately, the switch went rather poorly — early users reported issues both with unlock speeds and the reliability of the scanning. While the subsequent OTA updates and the next generations of Pixels somewhat improved the situation, unlocking was still comparatively slow, and it remains that way to this day.

The source of these problems was the choice of fingerprint scanner used. Google opted for an optical scanner from a company called Goodix, while the competitors have been using ultrasonic scanners. Optical scanners are typically slower, less accurate, and more sensitive to any moisture or dirt you might have on your finger. There’s also the issue of usage in low-light environments — optical scanners require the screen to flash a very bright light in the place of the scanner, which means if you don’t cover the circle on the screen completely, you might get hit with a flash of blinding light.

An ultrasonic fingerprint scanner should make unlocking faster and more reliable.

With the Pixel 9, Google is finally making the switch to an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner. The specific unit used is Qualcomm’s 3D Sonic Gen 2 (QFS4008) — the same exact model as the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. The fingerprint scanners on Samsung devices have been excellent for a while now, so this is good news.

While the overall unlock experience and speed rely on more than just the hardware, an ultrasonic sensor is always going to be better than an optical sensor.

Coming soon to a Pixel near you

The new ultrasonic fingerprint scanner is coming to all the variants of the Pixel 9, except the Fold, which keeps its fingerprint scanner in the power button. Google has confirmed that the Pixel 9 series will debut on August 13, so there isn’t long left to wait.

What do you think about the upgraded fingerprint scanner in the Pixel 9? Let us know in the comments.

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