We applauded the latest pure Android phone in our Google Pixel 6 review for its great camera performance, smart features, fascinating design, and low pricing. As a result, I was eager to try out Google’s newest phone.
However, there is an evident issue with the Pixel 6 right out of the box: the under-display fingerprint sensor. While it’s conveniently located in the lower centre of the screen, where one’s thumb can readily reach it, I’ve found the sensor to be unreliable so far.
My colleagues at TechRadar have also observed anomalies with the fingerprint scanner, so I’m not alone. On Reddit, there has also been talk that the scanner on the Pixel 6 isn’t ideal.
The most apparent flaw is that the Pixel 6’s fingerprint sensor is somewhat slower than comparable under-display sensors. When compared to my Oppo Find X3 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, both of which use optical under-display scanners, there’s a split-second delay between touching the scanner part of the display and the phone unlocking. And, unlike other Android phones I’ve tested, I’ve discovered that the scanner requires a harder, more direct push of a finger.
I’m not the most patient person, so a tiny delay in unlocking my phone doesn’t bother me. But, especially when going on London’s Underground, I rely heavily on phone-based contactless payments. During rush hour, the delay between a phone unlocking and an onrushing passenger might make the difference between sliding through an aisle gate and being rear-ended.
The Pixel 6 is the first Google phone to use an under-display fingerprint scanner, so there will be some kinks to work out. But, following the Google Pixel 5’s basic but oh-so-quick and sensitive rear-mounted capacitive fingerprint reader, it’s a little jarring to now have a sensor that isn’t as snappy and lags behind those found on some of the best Android phones.
A visible delay is one thing; a lack of response or dependability is quite another, and this is my biggest gripe with the Pixel 6’s fingerprint sensor.
The phone opens consistently when I use my left thumb on the scanner, but it struggles to identify the fingerprint on my right hand thumb, even scanning it repeatedly.
What’s more perplexing is that I’d expected my left thumb, which has a lump of scar tissue in it after I accidentally hacked off the front of it with a rifle, would be the culprit. It works great, albeit there is a split-second delay between scanning and unlocking the phone. My completely normal right-hand thumb, on the other hand, appears to be causing issues with the Pixel 6, to the point that I now have to input a PIN to unlock the phone.
It’s unclear whether the issue is with the hardware or the software. Though two scans of the same finger normally gets past picky scanners, I haven’t ruled out user error; perhaps I’m just better with my left hand. Regardless, I’m hoping Google makes some software changes to improve the scanner’s responsiveness.
Should these reservations deter you from purchasing the Pixel 6? No, no, and no. I’ll have to use the phone for a bit longer to form an opinion, but our review was positive, and I’m enjoying the Pixel 6 so far. And, for $599 and with a slew of excellent features, the Pixel 6 isn’t a phone that can be readily discarded because of a few small problems unless you’re a snob.that can happen if you’ve spent years of your life reviewing phones!