Last weekend, two reports emerged from India about the Pixel 6a’s under-display fingerprint sensor (UDFPS) that allows anyone to unlock. This includes people who have not previously registered their fingerprints.
Just today, after the Pixel 6a was launched in 13 countries, there are – so far – six additional reports of this happening. They range from being able to unlock with a different finger that isn’t registered to being able to unlock 6a for someone else. Someone said that the problem did not occur again after removing and re-adding all the saved fingerprints.
The majority of buyers don’t seem to have this issue with the Pixel 6a. We thoroughly tested four Pixel 6a units and were unable to reproduce the issue. This indicates that only some phones are affected and indicates a hardware issue, as Google changed the 6a sensor.
The fact that this happens when actual units are shipped to customers is concerning. However, the software (or hardware) between the review units and the retail units does not appear to be different. Google on Thursday released an update that brings the Pixel 6a to the June security patch, starting in April. However, manual install designs are only available in Japan and Verizon. As of Saturday, we’re still waiting for the global update and a release for AT&T and T-Mobile phones.
It’s not clear if this update will fix the problem, or if there is a deeper hardware issue on the affected phones. This could be a case of a bad set of fingerprint sensors. If this is already the case, replacements will need to be sent. Hopefully, Google can proactively identify the affected devices and start the process automatically. Meanwhile, the software error may lead to an easier solution for all parties involved.
Regarding the short-term solution, those with this problem can disable fingerprint unlock (Settings app > Security > Fingerprint unlock > Delete) and use a PIN or password unlock. From what we can gather today, this problem does not appear out of the blue and either you have it or you don’t.
9to5Google I reached out to Google for comment today, but had not received a response prior to publication.
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