The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro have excellent in-screen fingerprint sensors — but what about face unlock? Here’s why the feature might be available later on.
Rumors leading up to the Pixel 6 suggested it would have face unlock, but did those claims hold true with the final release? Google‘s had an interesting relationship with biometric authentication on its Pixel smartphones. For almost every model, the company’s stuck with a standard fingerprint sensor on the back. Google toyed with an advanced face unlock system on the Pixel 4, but quickly abandoned it a year later with the Pixel 5. The Pixel 4’s face unlock was widely regarded as the best implementation ever on an Android phone, making its absence on the Pixel 5 pretty disappointing.
With the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, Google went all-out to craft the most impressive Pixels it’s ever made. They’re equipped with gorgeous displays, outstanding performance, long battery life, and some of the most awe-inspiring cameras available on a smartphone right now. There’s no doubt these are two well-rounded handsets, but is face unlock part of the equation?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. Whether someone buys the Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro, neither smartphone has a face unlock option. Instead, they rely on an in-screen fingerprint sensor. The fingerprint sensors are very good. They’re easy to set up, are accurate, and can be accessed without waking the screen if the always-on display is enabled.
What Happened To The Pixel 6’s Face Unlock
For anyone who followed Pixel 6 rumors leading up to the full release, this might come as a surprise. Leaked marketing materials for the Pixel 6 Pro clearly showed a face unlock option in the Settings app. That same promotional image is also used for the Pixel 6 Pro listing on Carphone Warehouse (a popular UK-based phone retailer), suggesting it’s an official photo from Google’s marketing team. Additionally, 9to5Google discovered an interesting tidbit in the Play Store. On the app page for Security Hub — the new security page that debuted on the Pixel 6 — a ‘Face & Fingerprint Unlock’ option is clearly available. The actual app just shows ‘Fingerprint Unlock’ for this button, but the Play Store tells a different story.
So, what in the world is going on? Given the above evidence, it seems pretty obvious Google was working on face unlock for the Pixel 6 but chose not to ship it. The company could have decided to scrap the feature altogether, or it may get added later on with a future software update. That part of the equation remains unclear. What’s certain, though, is that face unlock was at one point part of the Pixel 6 experience.
If face unlock does get added to the Pixel 6 down the road, don’t expect it to compete with Face ID on the newest iPhones. Neither the Pixel 6 nor Pixel 6 Pro have special hardware for face unlock as the Pixel 4 did. If anything, it’ll just use the front-facing camera and likely be limited to bypassing the lock screen. We’re hopeful face unlock will come to the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro eventually, but until now, this is a fingerprint-only device.
Next: Google Pixel 6 Pro Review
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