Google Explains How to Fix Your Pixel 6 Fingerprint Reader

A person holding the Google Pixel 6.
Google

As Pixel 6 orders slowly make their way to customers, reports of “faulty” or unresponsive fingerprint readers are becoming incredibly common. We offered three easy solutions to this problem shortly after the Pixel 6 launch, but now, Google is offering some official tips to get your Pixel 6 fingerprint sensor working.

Update, 11/17/21: Google is now pushing an update to “improve” the Pixel 6 fingerprint reader. I suggest updating your device before taking the steps listed in this article, as the update may solve your Pixel 6 problems.

Google’s Explains Why Its Fingerprint Sensor Is Wonky

We weren’t too surprised when people started complaining about the Pixel 6 fingerprint sensor. Yeah, most in-display fingerprint readers are pretty responsive, but they rarely have the speed and accuracy of dedicated fingerprint sensors or buttons. Plus, the optical sensor that Google uses can have trouble with screen protectors, dry fingers, and other minor obstacles.

But “enhanced security algorithms” are actually the cause of Pixel 6 users’ fingerprint woes, according to Google. The company hasn’t explained how its “security algorithms” work, but it claims that the Pixel 6 may scan fingerprints slower than other phones.

The Solution: Firmly Press It

A fingerprint reader scanning a finger.
idea Ink Design/Shutterstock.com

If you’ve re-registered your fingerprints with the Pixel 6 and are still having trouble unlocking the device, Google suggests pressing your finger firmly against the optical sensor and holding it in place. It’s probably a simpler solution that you were hoping for, but hey, I guess you need to accommodate those slow “security algorithms.”

Notably, Google says that the Pixel 6 fingerprint sensor may have trouble in direct light. This makes sense, given that the optical sensor is basically just a camera that looks at your finger. If you’re having trouble using the Pixel 6 fingerprint reader in a bright environment (outdoors or near a window), try to press on it firmly until it unlocks.

I think that this solution sounds a bit funny, but it’s reasonable. I suggest pressing your thumb firmly against the Pixel 6 when you re-register your fingerprint, and for improved accuracy, registering the same fingerprint twice. (Keep in mind that you can only register 5 fingerprints at a time.)

Use Certified Screen Protectors

Pixel 6 Google Photos Magic Eraser tool
Justin Duino

When Review Geek staff had trouble with the Pixel 6 fingerprint sensor, removing our cheap screen protectors instantly solved the problem. It seems that some screen protectors just screw up the optical fingerprint sensor—and now, Google is suggesting some “certified” screen protectors to get things working properly.

Here are the screen protector brands suggested by Google:

By the way, carriers often stick screen protectors on devices without telling customers. These screen protectors are usually pretty cheap—they’re not useless, but you know, they ain’t great. If you’re having trouble with the Pixel 6 fingerprint sensor, double check that you aren’t unknowingly using a cheap screen protector.

PanzerGlass Pixel 6 Screen Protector

Grab a certified Pixel 6 screen protector from PanzerGlass.

PanzerGlass Pixel 6 Pro Screen Protector

Got a Pixel 6 Pro? Here’s a Google-certified screen protector from PanzerGlass.

Other Official Tips

Pixel 6 Pro in Cloudy White
Google

Still having trouble? Google offers a few more solutions to your fingerprint reader woes. We’ll list these solutions in quick bulleted form, since they’re (maybe) not as useful as the steps listed above.

  • Moisturize: Optical fingerprint sensors don’t work great with dry fingers. As it gets cold out, you probably need to use a bit of moisturizer.
  • Always-On Display: You can unlock your phone a bit faster when always-on display is enabled. Go to Settings, open “Display,” go to “Lock Screen,” and toggle “Always Show Time and Info.” (You can also use “Tap to Check Phone” or “Lift to Check Phone.”)
  • Update Your Phone: Update to the latest version of Android, which may contain software improvements for the fingerprint sensor.

If you’re still having trouble with your Pixel 6 fingerprint sensor after following all of these steps, open the Google Support page, scroll down, and click the “Contact Us” button.

Source: Google

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is a writer for Review Geek and its sister site, How-To Geek. Like a jack-of-all-trades, he handles the writing and image editing for a mess of tech news articles, daily deals, product reviews, and complicated explainers. Read Full Bio »

The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support Review Geek.