“Different” may not mean “better”, we’ll have to see
While many have complained about the fingerprint sensor performance in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro over the past six months, things power be different for the upcoming Pixel 6a. A change does not guarantee that all issues will be solved, but Google has confirmed that the upcoming mid-range phone, which is expected to have an in-display fingerprint sensor, will not use the same in-display sensor as the previous phones. †
The news comes courtesy of a message from Android Central, who said he confirmed the change with Google’s senior vice president of devices and services, Rick Osterloh. More specific details were not revealed.
The Pixel 6a
While fingerprint unlock issues on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro didn’t seem to affect everyone, many complained about issues, and our reviews at Android Police pointed to issues at launch. The best way to describe the performance back then was “inconsistent”, with the fingerprint sensor sometimes not working correctly, accompanied by seemingly random unlock times. Some device owners claim that later updates improved performance, and Google’s changelogs confirm that the fingerprint sensor has been modified in software over time. But even today, the fingerprint unlock performance on Google’s latest range of phones doesn’t match other high-end devices.
At one point, Google claimed that its “improved security algorithms” could be responsible for the perceived performance. A change in hardware doesn’t necessarily improve things on its own.
Earlier digging revealed that the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro use an optical sensor from Goodix, but previous attempts to confirm that with the manufacturer itself had been thwarted – agreements or other contracts may have prevented that. Other phones that have used the Goodix sensors had fantastic fingerprint unlocking performance (like OnePlus phones), which made the problems of the Pixel 6 series all the more confusing. It’s unclear if the Pixel 6a will use a different Goodix sensor (the company makes more than one) or if it will use a different brand or technology. Sensors below the display come in more than one type†
Google also has an ongoing problem with: the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro fingerprint sensor cannot be “calibrated” correctly after repair in certain cases. A bug report for the issue indicates that the problem is still unresolved, even though the nature of the problem was inconsistent.
“Different” hardware doesn’t mean “better,” but it opens the door to improvements in fingerprint unlocking performance on the Pixel 6a, which could include some huge shoes to fill as a follow-up to one of last year’s best products. The Pixel 5a is an excellent phone, and while the rear-mounted capacitive fingerprint sensor had a shallow lip that made it hard to find without a case, it was consistent, fast, and reliable. Hopefully we can say the same about the Pixel 6a.
Among other Pixel 6a hardware details for you to admireThe upcoming phone will feature a custom Tensor chipset like the Pixel 6 series, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage for a price tag of $450.
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