[Update: Jan. 22] Pixel 6 & Pixel 6 Pro fingerprint sensor is a mess - should Google add face unlock?

New updates are being added at the bottom of this story…

Original story (published on November 02, 2021) follows:

The Google Pixel 6 series was launched recently. Now, early adopters are discovering several points where these phones should soon improve with some updates.

One of the aspects that is bothering the buyers is the unlocking system. According to many reports, the on-screen fingerprint sensor allegedly does not work well, being slow and inaccurate.

The other aspect that even many did not expect is the absence of face unlock. For some reason, Google has decided to discard this feature from the Pixel 6 series.

Fingerprint sensor on Google Pixel 6 series is not working well

Something to note is that, after several generations of Pixel phones, the Pixel 6 are the first made by the company to integrate a fingerprint scanner on the screen.

Therefore, it is possible that the cause of the problems could be Google’s lack of experience in implementing this type of unlocking system (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

Google-Pixel-6-fingerprint-sensor-is-a-mess-users-request-face-unlock-1
Source

It’s not just mine it’s every YouTube reviewers complaint also. And anyone who owns the pixel 6 or the pro. The fingerprint reader is bad. Doesn’t respond quickly sometimes takes 3 presses to unlock
Source

In addition to the problems mentioned above, there are some users who report that the fingerprint reader on their Pixel 6 is completely ‘broken’:

Also, my wife’s regular Pixel 6 FP Scanner doesn’t work at all. Setup works fine but then she tries to use it and nothing. I set up with my fingerprint too and nothing. Thought it was the screen protector but it’s not.
Source

The lack of face unlock feature on Pixel 6 series is also a problem

The lack of facial unlocking in the Google Pixel 6 is one of the decisions that users are liking the least (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). Also, this becomes more annoying when the main unlocking system does not work properly.

Some users report that the lack of a face unlock system would have even caused the cancellation of their Google Pixel 6 order:

Google-Pixel-fingerprint-sensor-is-a-mess-users-request-face-unlock-
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fingerprint sensor not that responsive…no face unlock…heating up so quick….since weight on top …not comfortable to handle ….why no one talking about this in reviews …..I just returned my pixel 6 ….trusted all these reviewers but they don’t highlight these points
Source

So, there are many reports of users requesting Google to add a facial unlocking system, as an alternative to the troublesome fingerprint unlocking, without having to use a pattern or PIN.

Google-Pixel-6-fingerprint-sensor-is-a-mess-users-request-face-unlock
Source

Having said all the above, do you think Google should add facial unlocking to the Pixel 6 soon? Let us know what you think by voting in the poll or sharing your thoughts in the comments section below.

Note: The poll results shall be updated after a week.

Update 1 (November 08)

IST 10:21 am: Google has since come out to report why users of the Pixel 6 devices are facing slow fingerprint authentication issues.

The company explains that 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.

google explains slow fingerprint scanner pixel 6
Source

Update 2 (November 09)

IST 11:07 am: New reports suggest that the Pixel 6 fingerprint scanner might be insecure. This, as some Google Pixel 6 units can apparently be unlocked with other people’s fingerprints.

IST 11:21 am: It is coming to light that there are issues setting up the fingerprint sensor. These users report that the registered fingerprint gets undone after their phone runs out of battery.

Others note that factory resetting seems to help resolve this issue.

IST 12:40 pm: The poll results are out and evidently, many of (89.9%) you agree that Google should add the Face Unlock feature. 7% of you don’t really care and 3% feel otherwise.

Update 3 (November 10)

IST 05:14 pm: The Pixel 6 fingerprint enrollment issue after your phone unexpectedly shuts down has been marked ‘Assigned’ in the official issue tracker. Thus, it’s highly likely users may get a fix for it sooner rather than later.

Update 4 (November 12)

IST 10:52 am: Google may be looking to bring the Face unlock option to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro via a future update as there’s evidence within a commit published back in July that specifically mentions ‘face unlock’ and Google’s Tensor SoC’s ‘gs101’ internal name.

Update 5 (November 17)

IST 11:57 am: Google has recently pushed out a mid-cycle update to the Pixel 6 devices and according to reports from users on the socials, this update seems to improve the fingerprint performance.

Pixel 6. In the short time since I’ve installed so far, my fingerprint reader (with screen protector) is working great. It infuriated me before, working only sometimes. 100% success so far. We’ll see if it keeps up.
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P6P here, I’ve also noticed an improvement in the fingerprint scanner. At first I thought maybe wishful thinking but it is definitely better. I noticed a couple new wallpapers in Curated Culture, not sure if those came with the update but I think so.
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We shall continue to monitor user-reports and feedback on this and report back as and when we learn more.

IST 02:57 pm: Google has reportedly released a mid-November update for Pixel 6 and 6 Pro phones which brings performance improvements in the fingerprint scanner. More on that here.

Update 6 (December 07)

IST 12:15 pm: The December 2021 update is rolling out to a bunch of Pixel devices with the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro set to get updated next week.

The changelog now notes a few changes to the biometrics and below is the snippet.

Biometrics

– General improvements for fingerprint sensor stability & performance.
– Additional fixes for issues preventing enrollment of new fingerprints in certain conditions.
– General improvements for face unlock stability & performance.

Update 7 (December 14)

IST 06:46 pm: December update is now rolling out for Pixel 6 and 6 Pro and now users likely won’t face any issues related to the fingerprint sensor after updating.

Update 8 (December 15)

IST 04:46 pm: According to some evidence found by folks over at 9to5Google in the latest Android 12L beta, Google may add a face unlock option on Pixel 6 Pro in a future update.

However, the face unlock support will be limited to Pixel 6 Pro and there is no indication if the base variant will get it or not.

Update 9 (January 15)

IST 11:04 am: Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are now finally getting the January 2022 patch and it also includes fixes from the previous December 2021 update that mentions a bunch of improvements for the fingerprint sensor.

Biometrics

– General improvements for fingerprint sensor stability & performance.
– Additional fixes for issues preventing enrollment of new fingerprints in certain conditions.
– General improvements for face unlock stability & performance.

Update 10 (January 17)

IST 01:30 pm: It seems that the January update addressed the fingerprint sensor issues for some.

Regarding the @Google #Pixel 6 #January update..
1. Fingerprint scanner does seem more reliable. It’s still shitty, it just works more consistently. (Source)

My #Pixel6 works flawlessly and smooth after the Jan update! My fingerprint scanner as of now works Everytime! Thank you (Source)

Pixel 6 Pro January update has improved the fingerprint sensor and made the UI a bit snappier. But Bluetooth is still broken, the phone still gets warm from basic usage, and the battery is meh. (Source)

Unfortunately, it does not appear to have done the trick for some other users.

Pixel 6 fingerprint sensor software is utter junk, even with the very latest January update. Have gone back to pin unlock for now. @Google, please fix properly or add face unlock. (Source)

Update 11 (January 18)

IST 06:12 pm: Google has listed screen protectors that are certified to work with the fingerprint sensor.

Screen protectors from brands like Case-Mate, OtterBox, Panzerglass, and Tech21 are Google recommended for a seamless fingerprint experience.

Update 12 (January 21)

IST 10:35 am: MKBHD when asked for his experience after January 2022 update said that while the lag is better now, the fingerprint scanner is still slow.

Moderately, yes. I had a system UI crash yesterday, which is still not great, and the fingerprint reader is still slow (I don’t think that can be fixed) but overall the lag is dramatically better, which is a good sign for now (Source)

Update 22 (January 22)

10:27 am (IST): The fingerprint scanner of the Pixel 6 lineup hasn’t been that good right from when it was launched.

And while the first update improved the fingerprint experience a bit, a new report suggests that the January update seemingly made it annoying yet again. The fingerprint scanner has problems with screen protectors and wet or greasy fingers.

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Jean Leon

A tech enthusiast since ever. I like to always be up to date on the latest news in the industry and write about it.