Pixel 9 and 9 Pro rumored to use ultrasonic fingerprint sensor

Ever since the Pixel 6 adopted an under-display fingerprint sensor, people have complained that unlock performance is a step back from the Pixel Imprint days. Performance has improved over the years, but now the Pixel 9 series is rumored to adopt an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor.

According Android AuthorityThe Pixel 9 and 9 Pro will have an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, specifically the Qualcomm 3D Sonic Gen 2. (The Pixel 9 Pro Fold will stick with its side-mounted sensor built into the power button.) The inaudible sound waves “read the valleys and ridges of a finger” and create a “reproduction of the scanned fingerprint.” It’s used in Samsung’s Galaxy S24 Ultra.

This component (QFS4008) was introduced in early 2021 with an 8 x 8 mm footprint. The first-generation scanner had a 4 x 9 mm footprint, with 77% more surface area allowing for easier finger placement and capturing (1.7 times) more biometric data. It is also said to be “faster compared to previous solutions when fingers are wet.”

For comparison, optical fingerprint sensors work by shining a bright light and basically taking a picture. Google’s first implementation with the Pixel 6 was a pain, especially with screen protectors. The company responded to complaints with a new sensor on the 6a. One notable change there, which persists through to the 8a, is how it went from being able to register five fingers to just four.

It’s surprising that Google has waited this long to make the change. Thankfully, with the Pixel 8, we have universal face unlock that has worked pretty well. Of course, the camera-only implementation means it may never work in low-light conditions, so other reliable forms of unlocking are required.

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