Following last month’s launch, the Google Pixel 8 and the Pixel 8 Pro are now reaching more people across the globe. The duo is well endowed with features you won’t find on any other Android phone, among them support for Class 3-level Face Unlock for payments, “the highest Android biometric standard.” However, there are several reports now indicating that the Pixel 8 Face Unlock system is not working reliably when used in low light conditions.

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Several threads have popped up on Reddit and Android Central forum with reports of Face Unlock struggling to authenticate payments or other secure apps when in poorly lit rooms. Typically, when in a dark room, the Pixel 8’s Face Unlock relies on the screen to shine light on your face so that the camera can see you properly. Once the camera sees and confirms your face, the authentication goes through. However, the Pixel 8 seems to be struggling with this process, perhaps because the screen doesn’t brighten up enough for the camera to see your face.

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The same concerns have also been highlighted by popular YouTuber Dave2D in his Pixel 8 Pro review, something that has also been echoed by another YouTuber, who did more extensive tests as seen in the video below.

The iPhone’s Face ID, for instance, doesn’t struggle to work in dark environments since it doesn’t rely on the selfie camera. It has dedicated hardware for this purpose. Having labeled it Class 3, you’d expect more from the Pixel 8 Face Unlock system, especially in low light conditions. I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to question how secure it is if it fails to log me into a secure app when my hands are wet or dirty.

The Pixel 8 still relies on an optical fingerprint sensor. Unlike the ultrasonic sensor, this one can be unreliable when dealing with dirty or wet fingers, which is where Face Unlock steps in. But unfortunately, it seems it’s only reliable in well-lit environments.

There’s a potential workaround

With Google yet to push any new updates to the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro, except for the recent Android 14 QPR1 Beta 2.2, affected users have been working around the Face Unlock issue by registering their faces when in low light conditions. This way, the phone captures your facial data in poorly-lit conditions, so it should easily detect your face when being used in similar conditions. Notably, this won’t affect performance in normal lighting.

So, if you’re experiencing this issue, be sure to remove the current facial recognition data and re-register your face, but this time when in a slightly darker room.

Hillary Keverenge
2132 Posts

Tech has been my playground for over a decade. While the Android journey began early, it truly took flight with the revolutionary Lollipop update. Since then, it's been a parade of Android devices (with a sprinkle of iOS), culminating in a mostly happy marriage with Google's smart home ecosystem. Expect insightful articles and explorations of the ever-evolving world of Android and Google products coupled with occasional rants on the Nest smart home ecosystem.

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