What our readers prefer: fingerprint scanners or Face Unlock?

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With the Pixel series, so far we’ve relied on a save 2019 capacitive fingerprint scanner, where Face Unlock has been briefly added to the mix. Since the Pixel 6 is set to include software-based Face Unlock and an in-display fingerprint scanner, we wanted to know which biometric security you prefer on your device.

So, to reiterate, as it stands, there are a few basic methods to secure your Android smartphone: PIN or pattern, capacitive fingerprint reader, built-in fingerprint reader screen or use of Face Unlock. Without going into the reasons why the method might be the “safest”, there are advantages and disadvantages to each method.

For speed, it is often determined by the technology used in each implementation. Personal preferences play a big role, but over the past 20 months, face unlock hasn’t played very well with masks. We also completely forgot to note that a PIN or pattern is required if you are using a biometric security method as a backup if / when the hardware fails to retrieve your digits or face.

The most surprising thing in our survey was that 38.6% of you prefer an in-screen fingerprint scanner and face unlock options. Since its introduction just a few years ago, the technology has grown, but the first wave of integrated scanners were sometimes quite poor. You can get on-screen scanners in several versions: optical and ultrasonic. The latter is more accurate but can be slower because an optical scanner projects a bright light on your thumb or finger and matches based on the fingerprints on your device.

Ultrasonic scanners use sound waves to bounce sound waves off the ridges of your fingerprint to determine if your finger matches a registered fingerprint. It is definitely safer but can be slower due to the technology used. The most common answer to why people seemed to prefer a built-in scanner over other options was positioning.

 Camembert showing the vote share of 9to5Google readers for capacitive fingerprint reader and face open.

Considering the volume of responses, we were really surprised that capacitive scanners got 34.8% of the vote. Especially since many people have suggested that the ability to swipe down on a rear-mounted scanner allows for impressive notification panel extension no matter what app you are using or where you are. you are in the user interface of your device. This is lost with an in-screen fingerprint scanner or when using the face unlock.

A good point made by the Don reader is that a capacitive fingerprint reader mounted on the power button makes the most sense given the ergonomics of larger devices. There’s also the added bonus of even faster unlocks when you press the button. That said, it can often be frustrating as many OEMs put the power button a little low in the chassis – or at least they do in our experience.

Face unlock came in behind the two fingerprint scanning options with 24.9% of the vote, which came as no shock. While the option is great, it doesn’t always work well with glasses, and it certainly doesn’t work with masks. That said, as Pixel 4 owners will attest – and many have – face unlocking is fast and reliable. It even works in the dark thanks to the infrared blaster.

I felt a kinship with the Roti reader which also seems to suffer from sweaty palms, and so for us, face unlock trumps any type of fingerprint scanner. One big sore point is that, as Citizen7 points out, more apps still support fingerprint scanners than face unlock. There’s also the issue of the Pixel 4 unlocking so quickly that you sometimes do it unintentionally. However, this also applies to power button scanners.

Only 1.32% and 0.4% respectively said they used a PIN / Patter or did not have any kind of security on their devices. Many respondents are excited about the possibility of having more than one unlocking method with the Pixel 6, which is expected to include an in-screen scanner and software-based face unlock. Google isn’t the first to offer more than one option as the LG G8 included a capacitive scanner and face unlock software in 2019, but we all know how LG has fared since …

Obviously, there is no such thing as a “perfect” option, but having more than one could be a way to make everyone happy. Let’s just hope that more devices will offer more secure unlocking methods in the future.

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