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Pixel 9 will fix something that has been driving Pixel users crazy

Published Jul 5th, 2024 6:32PM EDT
Software on the Google Pixel 8a
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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One of the first questions people asked when that pink Pixel 9 unit made its way online had to do with the fingerprint sensor. Has Google switched to an ultrasonic reader, or is it sticking with the same optical fingerprint sensors that have been driving many Pixel users nuts for a while now? The person who leaked photos and images of the device didn’t immediately answer, promising to offer additional details in the coming days.

Since then, Google apparently bricked the Pixel 9, locking down any secrets that the software might be hiding. However, the leaker said on X they could “99%” confirm that the Pixel 9 phones would get the upgrade fans have been asking for. He was replying to questions about a report that said the Pixel 9 will feature ultrasonic sensors instead of the old optical ones.

That’s a great upgrade that many Pixel users should appreciate. Optical sensors haven’t been that fast or reliable in previous Pixel generations. This year, those issues will hopefully be things of the past.

A person familiar with Google’s decision to upgrade the fingerprint sensor in the Pixel 9 series leaked the information to Android Authority. We’re looking at the Qualcomm 3D Sonic Gen 2 (QFS4008) unit inside the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Ultrasonic readers can be faster and more reliable when unlocking a phone because they don’t have to shine a light to illuminate the user’s fingerprint. They also work better with wet and dirty fingers than optical ones.

When a fingerprint sensor doesn’t work, you’ll need to input the screen passcode. This isn’t just more annoying for the overall experience but also a potential security issue. Anyone looking at your screen might see the password. The same issue impacts your ability to quickly log into apps using the fingerprint sensor.

As a longtime iPhone user, I’ll say that I’ve been taking Face ID authentication for granted for years. It’s the fastest way to unlock a smartphone, and I wouldn’t want Touch ID back. Google won’t bring 3D face unlock to the Pixel back anytime soon. That said, the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor should be a great upgrade for the Pixel 9 series.

However, not all Pixel 9 phones will get it. If you’ve been following the Pixel 9 rumors, you already know which device can’t have one. That’s the next-gen Google foldable handset, the Pixel 9 Pro Fold. No foldable device comes with an in-display fingerprint sensor, so it’s unlikely Pixel’s new Fold might pull off that trick.

The non-foldable models should all get the same Qualcomm sensor. That’s the Pixel 9, Pixel 9 Pro, and Pixel 9 Pro XL.

Google will probably confirm this rumor soon, as the company has scheduled its Pixel 9 launch event for August 13th.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.