The Google Pixel 6a fingerprint scanner allows some unregistered users to unlock the phone

midian182

Posts: 8,152   +97
Staff member
In brief: Google's Pixel 6a phone doesn't arrive until later this week, and many of the early reviews are positive, but it seems that some who got their hands on the budget handset early have discovered a worrying problem: the in-display sensor is unlocking the device for random people, rather than restricting access to those who registered their fingerprints.

The Pixel 6a, which has been available to pre-order since July 21, launches on July 28. Many early reviews have praised the phone, but several YouTubers have found what could be a massive problem with the under-display fingerprint sensor letting unregistered people unlock the phone. Check out the video below from the 1:14 mark to see this weird behavior taking place.

Not everyone who touches the Pixel 6a's sensor can unlock the phone. Geekyranjit notes that his wife and daughter can't access it, but he's able to by using his unregistered left thumb.

If this is a problem on Google Pixel 6a phones, it would likely put many security-conscious people off buying one. This is familiar territory for Google; the fingerprint scanner in the Pixel 6 proved problematic due to how slowly it unlocked the handset, which the company said was the result of enhanced security algorithms. An update was pushed out to address the issue, and Google decided to swap out the sensor in the Pixel 6a. While the cheaper model is definitely faster, the change appears to have resulted in an even worse problem.

Google has yet to comment on the reports, so it hasn't acknowledged this potentially dangerous security issue with the biometric security system. If it is confirmed, Google will doubtlessly hope a simple software update can fix it.

The Pixel handsets have a long-running reputation for launching with various bugs and other issues. A hairline crack in the solder connection on the audio codec in the original Pixel caused so many problems it led to a class-action lawsuit. There were also screen issues with the Pixel 2, several bugs in the Pixel 3, questionable build quality in the Pixel 5, and the Pixel 6 rejecting calls (and the aforementioned slow unlocking).

Thanks, Phandroid

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defaultluser

Posts: 477   +366
If you are interested in this phone, then you already know the fingerprint reader is worthless (same one as the big-brother)

I don't us the rear-mounted one on my P2 (so gimmie-gimmie)
 

McMurdeR

Posts: 573   +738
I don't know what they did in the software, but my Pixel 6 always recogises my fingerprints, 100% reliable. Couldn't tell you if it's the quickest out there but it's a non issue these days.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 671   +544
I don't know what they did in the software, but my Pixel 6 always recogises my fingerprints, 100% reliable. Couldn't tell you if it's the quickest out there but it's a non issue these days.
I have to say that fast does not mean it is secure. I feel it is the same when you think about doing a job fast vs doing the same job well. In this case, it is fast, but clearly compromised badly on security when you can scan another unregistered finger and it unlocks.
 

NumberSix

Posts: 154   +216
If you are interested in this phone, then you already know the fingerprint reader is worthless (same one as the big-brother)

I don't us the rear-mounted one on my P2 (so gimmie-gimmie)

And yet my Pixel 6 Pro unlocks with a near 100% accuracy with a quick thud thud.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,088   +8,126
"Will we ever see a Pixel phone launch without problems?"

Doubtful ... very doubtful ....