The Pixel 6 Pro could still get face unlock — but there's a big caveat

Google Pixel 6 Pro Lock Screen
Google Pixel 6 Pro Lock Screen (Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • New evidence points to face unlock support coming to the Google Pixel 6 Pro.
  • The security feature could arrive as part of the Android 12L update or a Pixel feature drop.
  • However, the smaller Pixel 6 might not get face unlock.

Google introduced the Pixel 6 series in October with only an in-display fingerprint sensor for security, skipping the much-anticipated face unlock system. However, according to a new rumor, the feature will still be available in a future update for the Google Pixel 6 Pro.

According to 9to5Google, a few strings in the source code of Android 12L's beta version indicate that the Pixel 6 Pro will get support for face unlock after all. This code is linked to settings that let you choose between face recognition and fingerprint scanning.

However, the regular Pixel 6 isn't likely to receive the feature. 9to5Google says the same code change wasn't found on a base Pixel 6 running Android 12L.

It would be a bit of a bummer if the face unlock capability will be exclusive to the Pro version and owners of the smaller model will have to make do only with the fingerprint scanner, which wasn't particularly impressive during the device's initial months.

Face unlock was dropped with the launch of the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G. However, prior to the Pixel 6's release, a leak claimed that the feature would return with Google's best Android phones. That obviously did not occur for some reason.

Another caveat found in the code is that the feature is labeled as "experimental," which could mean one of two things: face unlock may take some time to arrive on the Pixel 6 Pro, or it may never arrive at all.

At any rate, the smaller Pixel 6 is unlikely to receive the same treatment when the feature becomes available, if at all. According to rumors, face unlock support will be included in the Android 12L update or a future Pixel feature drop.

Google Pixel 6 Pro Cloudy White Render

Google Pixel 6 Pro

Pixel Drop features are frequently restricted to the most recent Pixel generations. The Pixel 6 Pro is your best bet if you want the best software experience Google has to offer. It's an amazing phone with 12GB of RAM, a 6.7-inch 1440p LTPO OLED display, amazing cameras, and a solid battery life.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.

  • I for one am happy to hear it won't be coming to my Pixel 6.
  • What benefit would you gain by not having an additional option added that will be disabled by default and would not impact your experience with the phone in any way should you choose not to activate it? I get it if you mean you won't use it, but, in the grand scheme of things, not having that option enabled on the 6 while the 6 Pro gets it would only have one potential impact on you at such time as you might (if you would) choose to sell it - further devaluation of the 6 compared to the 6 Pro as it would be 'one more thing' that the 6 lacks in comparison.
  • This is the dumbest nonsense comment I've seen in a while. You may not like face on lock with a normal rgb camera. I'm inclined to agree. But to be thankful not even to have the choice is idiocy.
  • 'let you choose between face recognition and fingerprint scanning'. That an either or option? Why not both with a default preference.
  • Probably as secure as OPTICAL finger print reader which can be fooled by a good scan and photo. For security, capacity or ultrasonic; with capactive the best.
    Hopefully, the Pixel 7 will have a capacitive reader on the power button, secure facial unlock or at least ultrasonic.
    And hopefully, the will dump Samsung modems and opt for Qualcomm. (Interesting fact, ONLY ONE company has used a Exynos modem (5123) in the USA...GOOGLE....Google Pixel 6 series...WHY.)
  • Has there ever been a good face lock experience from a phone without an IR dot projector or IR sensor? I think you're both limited in how effectively it can be used in the dark and how secure it can be, with the purely optical in the visible spectrum version more prone to being fooled by an image of the person printed out or even on a screen.
  • I'd rather stick with the current gimmicky fingerprint scanner.
  • The one thing I miss from my 4XL. Looking forward to getting the feature.
  • I honestly don't care. People complain how fingerprint sensors can be spoofed. Face unlock is a magnitude worse. Stop promoting a crap unlock scheme. And in before...well fingerprint sensors can be spoofed. Yeah but you need a good copy of that fingerprint not what you see in the movies with talcum powder and scotch tape. Getting a face picture of a target from Facebook or a Google search is far easier. Even with IR it can still be spoofed.