The Google Pixel 6a might fix the Pixel 6’s most annoying flaw

If you have a Google Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro, aside from the numerous bugs – which have mostly been fixed – you might be more annoyed by the fingerprint sensor, which many users have found deeply unreliable. But the Google Pixel 6a may not have this problem.

Indeed, the new phone has a different fingerprint sensor from the main Pixel 6 models. This was confirmed by Rick Osterloh (Senior Vice President of Devices and Services at Google) in a conversation with Android Central to Google IO 2022.

However, there is no guarantee that the Pixel 6a’s new sensor will be better. Osterloh didn’t shed light on the reason for the change, or discuss the performance of the new sensor.

Still, we can really only think of two likely reasons. One is that it’s a response to complaints about the Google Pixel 6’s sensor, suggesting that the Pixel 6a will indeed be better. The other is that it’s a cost-cutting measure (given the Google Pixel 6a is a cheaper phone) – which could mean it’s even worse.

So we can’t be sure of anything at the moment. If better, it would put Google in the odd position of offering better technology on a mid-range model than on its flagships, which could also annoy Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro owners, it will be so interesting to see how things unfold.

Google Pixel 6 held in hand with thumb pointing towards fingerprint reader

(Image credit: TechRadar/John McCann)

Analysis: What’s so bad about the Pixel 6’s fingerprint sensor?

Not everyone hates the fingerprint sensor on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, but plenty of people certainly do, with Reddit threads full of complaints about it, and some users going so far as to say that is barely functional.

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In our Pixel 6 Pro review, we also noted issues with it, saying that “on some occasions we had to do multiple taps with our digit before we were able to unlock the phone”.

We didn’t find it as unusable as some Pixel owners did, but it was annoying enough to warrant an article on the Pixel 6’s fingerprint frustrations. Since then, Google has been working to improve the sensor through updates. software updates, but the complaints continue, suggesting the problem is likely hardware related.

If so, it’ll probably take a whole new sensor to fix the problem – perhaps the one we’re getting with the Pixel 6a, and almost certainly will see with the Google Pixel 7.

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