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Google tries to explain why the Pixel 6 fingerprint sensor is so slow

Pixel 6 fingerprint sensor

For years, we’ve been waiting for Google to make a statement with its flagship smartphone lineup. The Pixel series has often felt more like an afterthought than a real challenger to Samsung’s Android throne. That finally changed this year with the arrival of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Not only are these the most powerful phones that Google has ever made, but they also look distinctly modern. The new Pixel is an impressive achievement, but a few key issues are holding it back.

Ever since launch, some Pixel 6 owners have been complaining about a slow fingerprint sensor. One disgruntled customer took to Twitter over the weekend to complain. The user would hold their finger to the scanner 6 or 7 times, and then eventually would be forced to input their PIN anyway. Google’s official Twitter account actually responded, and explained why this might happen (via Engadget):

Google says “enhanced security algorithms” may affect the speed of the sensor as it unlocks a Pixel 6. Explanations aside, Google’s response seems to indicate that there isn’t a fix in the works for the Pixel 6’s slow fingerprint sensor. It’s a feature, not a bug. Instead, Google redirected the user to a page on its support site. Here are some of the tips Google provides on that page:

  • Get the latest Android update. Learn how to check & update your Android version.
  • Make sure you press & hold your finger firmly on the sensor until your phone unlocks.
  • Ensure your display is clean and without dirt or smudges.
  • Check that you’re using the same finger you used when you enrolled in Fingerprint Unlock. You can add up to 5 fingerprints, follow the steps to set up a fingerprint.
  • If you have excessively dry fingers, moisturize or re-enroll fingerprint.

You can certainly try these if you are also struggling to unlock your Pixel 6 with the fingerprint sensor. That said, some Redditors are convinced that Google simply did a poor job implementing the optical fingerprint sensor on the Pixel 6. One user notes that the optical sensor on the OnePlus 9 feels “just as fast, if not faster” than the ultrasonic scanner on the Galaxy S21. Other users pointed out that there isn’t exactly a rash of worrying reports about the security of competing fingerprint sensors. And yet those sensors are able to unlock their phones quickly and consistently.

In all likelihood, this is not the end of this story. If anything can be done from a software perspective, Google will probably end up issuing a patch before too long. If not, the complaints have only begun.

Jacob started covering video games and technology in college as a hobby, but it quickly became clear to him that this was what he wanted to do for a living. He currently resides in New York writing for BGR. His previously published work can be found on TechHive, VentureBeat and Game Rant.




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