If you’ve been around our website for any amount of time, you know I’m a big Pixel fan. I openly and blatantly root for Google to succeed in the phone space and I’ve owned every iteration of the Pixel – except the Pixel 5 – since they began making them. For me, it has always been a combination of things that attracted me to Google’s vision for Android: a better, cleaner UI, a focus on end-user experience, and an attention to build quality. While I’d argue all these things are still generally intact with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, the laser focus on user experience has been lacking this time around.
And for a phone that is a good deal but not the absolute best Android hardware you can get these days, the UX issues feel more problematic than ever before. The constant bugs since launch have really stolen from the overall enthusiasm I once held for Pixel devices, and chief among those complaints for me has been the terrible performance of the fingerprint scanner.
When previous iterations of the Pixel phone all had near-instant biometric options on the back or via face unlock, it’s a nagging issue to take such a massive leap backwards in this area. While we’ve waited for software fixes and rolled our collective eyes at lame explanations for the fingerprint scanner being so slow on the Pixel 6, other companies have simply gone and done it better.
The Samsung Galaxy S22’s fingerprint scanner is perfect
When Samsung opted to skip the optical under-display fingerprint scanner in its Galaxy S10 phones, the results weren’t great either. They announced the world’s first ultrasonic sensor and when placed side-by-side with the existing optical sensors (like what we see on most in-display fingerprint scanners), there was really no upside. Both were slow and somewhat inaccurate at the time. This was in 2019.
Fast forward to the latest version of this tech, and things couldn’t be more different. With the Galaxy S10, S20, and S21 in the rear-view mirror, Samsung is now on it’s 4th iteration of the ultrasonic fingerprint scanner and I have to tell you: it is nearly flawless. It brings to mind the experience of rear-mounted, capacitive fingerprint scanners from older phones (like the Pixel, Pixel 2, and Pixel 3) that worked so well. While I still don’t condone the removal of these simple solutions to biometric security, the replacement of them with Samsung’s latest in-display sensor is totally fine with me because it works so well.
What takes nearly a full second or more on the Pixel 6 is replaced with literally a tap on the Galaxy S22+. Gone are the mis-reads, long-presses, and flat out misfires I’ve experienced countless times on my Pixel 6. Instead, with a simple tap I’m logged in and running on the Galaxy S22+. To me, this is where under-display biometric scanning needed to be before everyone simply abandoned the basic capacitive reader on the back, side, or home button on our phones.
Logging into your phone quickly and securely is something you’ll do thousands and thousands of times during the time you own a phone. What may seem like a slight aggravation in this department will quickly turn to a massive headache when it never gets any better or any faster. Optical fingerprint scanners are just not that great, and the Pixel 6 version of this tech is about as bad as we’ve seen. It’s a small thing, sure, but it’s a frequently needed small thing, and that’s what makes it a big deal. I don’t know that it will get fixed on the Pixel 6 series, but Samsung is showing us that fingerprint scanners under the screen can be fast, accurate, and fun to use. Now we just need everyone else on board.