Fingerprint scanners have now become the de facto biometric security system for many computing devices, especially on smartphones outside of Apple’s iPhones. They are often fast, accurate, and cheap compared to a more advanced sensor array like those used for Face ID, even those that are placed underneath the phone’s screen. These in-screen fingerprint scanners have come a long way and are almost as reliable as their optical counterparts. The Pixel 6, however, has been reported to have a rather slow or unreliable fingerprint scanner, and apparently, that’s by design, according to Google.
In-screen or under-display fingerprint scanners are relatively newer compared to the traditional optical ones on the back of smartphones or underneath the power button. That said, they have become almost as reliable as the years passed, and even Samsung’s comparatively novel ultrasonic-based technology from Qualcomm has improved since last year’s first-gen iteration. That’s why it’s a bit surprising that the Pixel 6 is reported to be having problems left and right with what should have been a basic hardware feature now.
Complaints from Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro owners have started to pile up, describing the slow and unreliable. Users report that it takes more than a few tries to actually get the phone to unlock, making the process exasperating. Unfortunately, Google’s official response doesn’t help reassure owners, especially since it thinks that this is working as intended.
According to a Google representative handling the company’s Twitter account, the Pixel 6 uses “enhanced security algorithms” to verify a fingerprint. This, in turn, may cause a delay or even misses. Google’s advised solution is to make sure your fingers are clean, properly moisturized, and pressed firmly on the sensor.
Other users theorized that Google’s use of an under-display optical sensor is to blame, but that goes against evidence of other phones that use the same technology. Google’s response confirms that it is software-based, but it doesn’t seem like the Android maker actually considers it something to be fixed. Instead, the customer representative advises the owner to get in touch with support chat to get things sorted out.
Unfortunately, this leaves Pixel 6 owners in a bit of a quandary regarding the security of their phones. Those fed up with how unreliable the fingerprint scanner is could switch to a more cumbersome PIN method. It is ironic that Google’s enhanced security algorithms could, instead, force some users to use a less secure method, at least until Google fixes the issue, presuming it even sees it as an issue to be fixed.