[Update: June 17] 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-
Source

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.
Source

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.
Source

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.

Update 23 (January 24)

11:30 am (IST): The fingerprint scanner issue is still haunting the Pixel 6 users and the latest January 2022 patch has made it even worse.

Getting frustrated with the fingerprint option, users are now demanding (1, 2, 3) face ID. However, the Pixel 6 lacks the necessary hardware for face unlock, so it can’t be added just with a software update.

Update 24 (January 25)

04:20 pm (IST): Google is expected to release the February 2022 update for Pixel 6 phones on February 07. And we expect it to bring some improvements for fingerprint scanner.

Update 25 (January 26)

04:05 pm (IST): A Google employee has escalated the slow fingerprint scanner issue of Pixel 4a for further investigation.

So, Google might be looking into the issue and hopefully, the company may also fix the Pixel 6 fingerprint scanner.

Update 26 (January 27)

01:33 pm (IST): Some users who replaced their Pixel 6 have also reported issues with the fingerprint scanner and some even note that the issue is lot more serious.

Others have reported that the January 2022 update has improved the experience and made it a bit more reliable. But still, there are improvements that need to be done.

Update 27 (January 28)

01:27 pm (IST): The Fingerprint Enrollment Failure thread on the Google issue tracker is filled with reports with over 400 comments and the status still shows ‘Assigned’. This means Google is still investigating the issue.

Update 27 (January 29)

01:40 pm (IST): As if the ongoing fingerprint issues aren’t enough, users have begun reporting a new one that prevents the fingerprint dialog from appearing whenever a notification arrives.

For instance, when users try to log in to a banking app or any app that requires authentication and a notification arrives while at it, the fingerprint scanning dialog goes away.

Update 28 (February 10)

01:52 pm (IST): Google added a new fingerprint animation on Pixel 6 with Android 12L Beta 3. However, it remains to be seen if this new animation improves the performance of the fingerprint or not.

Update 29 (February 17)

11:02 am (IST): With Pixel 6, Google released a fingerprint calibration tool to calibrate the sensor at the time of device repair.

However, some users are now reporting that this tool is not working for them when trying to repair the screen or fingerprint sensor. It shows an error message that says ‘couldn’t find the unique calibration software for this device’.

Update 30 (February 21)

06:31 pm (IST): The issue with the fingerprint calibration tool is marked as accepted on the Google Issue Tracker which indicates that the devs are investigating it.

Update 31 (February 22)

01:28 pm (IST): The March 2022 patch for Pixel 6 will reportedly arrive on March 07. This update should include some improvements for the fingerprint sensor, however, nothing can be said as of now.

Update 32 (February 24)

10:15 am (IST): Google is taking feedback from Pixel users for the Android 12L Beta 3. So, those having issues with the fingerprint sensor on Pixel 6 can share their feedback directly to Google through this survey.

Update 33 (February 26)

05:15 pm (IST): Google Issue Tracker now shows status as ‘Accepted’ for the issue where fingerprint scanner dialog does not appear when a notification arrives. This means that the team at Google is looking into it.

Update 34 (March 08)

10:33 am (IST): Google Pixel phones are now receiving Android 12L with various bug fixes and new features. This update also carries some improvements for the fingerprint sensor.

However, it’s currently available on other supported Pixel phones, while Pixel 6 and 6 Pro will get this update in the coming days.

Update 35 (March 22)

10:14 am (IST): The latest March 2022 update that carries improvements for the fingerprint sensor is now available for Pixel 6 and 6 Pro phones.

Update 36 (March 29)

09:53 am (IST): According to XDA Developers, Google may still add a face unlock feature to the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro devices. The evidence for face unlock was found in Android 12 QPR3 beta 1.1.

Update 37 (April 11)

10:34 am (IST): A new Pixel 6 Pro owner found a reference to the Face Unlock feature while setting up the device. This hints that Google may add a Face Unlock option on Pixel 6. More on that here.

Update 38 (April 23)

10:29 am (IST): Google had a plan to launch the Pixel 6 Pro with face unlock but the feature was pulled at the last moment.
However, a fresh report now suggests the company may still bring face unlock to the Pixel 6 Pro with the next major quarterly Android update. But unfortunately, the standard Pixel 6 won’t get it.

Update 39 (April 27)

12:14 pm (IST): Face unlock setting has been added on Pixel 6 Pro with Android 13 beta 1. However, it’s not working yet and users can’t set it up.

Pixel-6-Face-unlock-setting
(Source)

Update 40 (May 17)

05:58 pm (IST): Some users running Android 13 beta 2 are now reporting (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) that the fingerprint sensor on Pixel is not recognizing their finger after it switches from normal display to AOD screen.

However, some users have managed to find workarounds that may help you resolve this issue. You can check them below.

Workaround 1:

Faster, yes, when it works. Having major issues with the lock screen being unresponsive unless I tap the power button first (Source)

Workaround 2:

Yes. I To solve, I flip my P6P screen down for a second & when I flip it back, it recognizes my fingerprint. (Source)

Update 41 (June 7)

10:28 am (IST): The latest June 2022 update for Pixel 6 fixes an issue where the fingerprint scanner is taking longer than expected to unlock the device.

Update 42 (June 8)

06:15 pm (IST): Many Pixel 6 users are now reporting (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) that the fingerprint sensor is not working for them after June 2022 update.

Unfortunately, the support team has not yet acknowledged this issue. However, we will keep tabs on the latest developments and inform you as and when anything noteworthy comes to our notice.

Update 43 (June 13)

05:15 pm (IST): One of the affected users now claims that support is asking them to factory reset the device in order to fix the fingerprint sensor issue.

Happened to me on my P6 Pro too. Same with one of the guys from work. Oddly other apps that use fingerprint to unlock work fine. It’s just the lock screen that’s bugging out. Support told me to factory reset, but that’s a massive hassle. There’s a fair bit of noise about it at the moment so I might just wait until next month’s update to see if it fixes it. (Source)

Update 44 (June 15)

12:13 pm (IST): A user has shared a potential workaround to fix the fingerprint issue on Pixel 6. You can check it out below.

Moreover, the user has also recommended that you should place your finger a bit higher than the placement indicated by the UI. Here’s how.

Workaround:

Pixel-6-fingerprint-workaround
(Source)

Update 45 (June 16)

12:37 pm (IST): Some user reports on Twitter (1, 2, 3) now suggest that the Android 13 beta has fixed the fingerprint issues on Pixel 6. Moreover, we can expect a definitive fix for the same in the stable version.

Update 46 (June 17)

05:13 pm (IST): Google is reportedly working to add Nearby Unlock feature in Android 13 that will let you unlock your phone using smartwatch. You’ll just need to keep you watch unlocked and close to your smartphone. More on that here.

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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.