Return of Fingerprint Reader to Pixel 4a and Pixel 5 lineup is a relief to many


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Pixel 4’s infamous decision to swap out the fingerprint reader with a face scanner ended up giving more trouble than it’s worth. With several users ranting on social media about how defunct the face scanner was, Google saw fit to bring the popular biometric scanner back. Pixel 4a/5 fingerprint reader decides to make an improved comeback.

It is a welcome move from Google with users having more than a smooth experience with fingerprint reader than with face scanner. The fingerprint scanner has found to work every time with no lag, no drag up the home screen like iOS. Just touch the back and boom, home screen appears.

Why was the Fingerprint Reader feature missed in Google Pixel phones?

The Pixel 4 had earned its share of ire from numerous users. Most commented on how laggy or unresponsive the face scanner was. Some had issues with the inhibited ease of access which is more of an annoyance. Others had difficulties unlocking apps that previously made use of the fingerprint reader.

Many complaint about several apps not requiring the use of the face unlock feature. It appeared to be a step backward from the fingerprint reader that unlocked every app in a jiffy. Also, a face scanner needed to position the phone at the right distance. It was because the phone failed to recognize when held close (even at arm’s length) or with a mask on. The notification shade shortcut has been removed too and there aren’t any viable options on Playstore.

On the whole, face scan fares poorly when compared to the Pixel 2XL in ease of use. But, there are plenty of people out there who’ve gotten used to the face unlock ecosystem. In such a case the Pixel 4 isn’t really a bad option, it suffers a few niggles that might’ve become issues owing to our fingerprinting habit.

I only miss it when paying through NFC and forgetting to uniform my phone first. Couldn’t happen with fingerprint because I turn on screen with my thumb. But lighting the device to terminal doesn’t unlock the p4.

Also the screen turns on way more frequently due to motion sense and it sometimes unlocks if I just look at the phone to see if the screen is on. But it’s not a big deal. Totally used to the face unlock now.


The only backside of using a fingerprint scanner is its ineffectiveness when fingers are wet or slimy. The reality is that both the scans have their own pros and cons. Neither of them is perfect.

For every example of face unlock failing, there’s an equivalent case of fingerprint failing. Again, neither are fool proof. With either method, there are scenarios that you truly take for granted until you no longer have them. You need to use them for some time then lose to realize their effectiveness. Maybe the best way out is having both a fingerprint scanner and face reader.

In the meantime, Android 12 finally adds native support for under-display fingerprint scanners and Pixel 6 might get one. But users want the best of all the worlds. They want a face scanner, an in-screen, and on the rear. Sounds overkill in a sense, and not realistic until the tech becomes the extreme standard, but cool nonetheless.

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Achyuth Nambiar
Achyuth Nambiar
Being a tech enthusiast and someone who loves to read, I try to combine the two into my latest attempt... blogging. A gaming PC though a Far Cry (pun intended) remains a distant dream.


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