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How to use face unlock (trusted face) on the Google Pixel 2

Smart lock efforts
Smart lock efforts (Image credit: Android Central)

Much was made of the OnePlus 5T's Face Unlock, but it's hardly the only Android phone to have a great face-unlocking feature. Google's own Pixel 2 actually has a great face unlock feature available as part of Smart Lock. And even though the fingerprint sensor is more secure and often faster, some of us want to have other options for unlocking. Whether you're wearing gloves or have your phone in positions that are awkward to reach behind the phone, it may actually make sense in some cases to unlock with your face rather than your finger.

Here's how you can set up and use face unlock to unlock your Pixel 2 with just a glance, and a couple ways to make sure you don't compromise your phone's security in the process.

  1. Head into your phone's Settings, scroll down and tap Security & location.
  2. Tap on Smart Lock underneath the Device security subheading.
  3. Confirm your current screen lock, then tap on Trusted face.
  4. It's helpful to be in a well-lit environment when you first train it, preferably during the day.
  5. This is particularly important if you wear glasses or regularly change your hairstyle, but can be useful even if you just face a different way or use different lighting for the extra scan.

You can come back and use "Improve face matching" at any time, but for now, you're finished!

To use face unlock, simply turn on your Pixel 2 to its lock screen. You'll notice, centered at the bottom of the screen, an icon with the silhouette of a head and shoulders, that means it's actively looking for a face. If the phone has already recognized you, the face will turn into a padlock that has been unlocked. Just swipe up on the lock screen, and you're in!

If you haven't unlocked your phone in a four-hour period, only your PIN, pattern, password or fingerprint will work. (The same goes for restarting your phone, minus fingerprint.) Additionally, by tapping the face icon or padlock on the lock screen will manually lock the phone, so that it can then only be unlocked by your PIN, pattern, password or fingerprint and not your face or other Smart Lock methods.

Stay unlocked, but stay safe!

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

15 Comments
  • How secure is Google's Face Unlock compared to One Plus'?
  • Same tech and just as vulnerable
  • So so much faster on the Oneplus and seems to work at better angels.
    Seems harder to fool than trusted voice not had my phone open for anyone else, but my face could be more unique than most! ....
  • And it's perfect for the Pixel 2 XL, since your itty bitty hands can't reach the rear fingerprint sensor. Slow news day, I guess.
  • Will this drain battery since front camera will be always be on technically?
  • I don't notice any difference.
  • its not on unless you have woken the screen and gone to the lock screen. But Trusted Face is still pretty crappy.
  • Do not use face unlock!!! It's the same garbage tech from years ago that can be fooled with a photo of you. You want the infrared LED that the S8 uses or go with an iPhone. Avoid face unlock.
  • A bit harsh. I suppose if you leave you phone on the bus with a nice picture of yourself it could be an issue.
    All my important apps are locked but I suppose they could play a few games...
  • This is not the same thing. As the article states, it will require a pin or fingerprint if you haven't unlocked with your face in a 4 hour period. If someone steals your phone, they better get a picture of you pretty quick lol. This is only to be convenient in certain situations.
  • I know Apple's is more secure and now advanced but Android has had this feature for so long and it's gotten so much quicker and more transparent yet nobody even talks about it..... It's like another forgotten Android feature that Apple now invented.... And I'm aware everyone borrows from everyone or builds off what has come before
  • This is ridiculously fast! I have the original Pixel and it's instantaneous! Definitely faster than any other. If you don't own a Pixel, then don't chime in, because it's just lip flapping otherwise.
  • Hasn't Android had face unlock since the Galaxy Nexus? I thought this was baked into Android as a standard function. All Google has done was move it to the smart Lock section. Apple finally does face unlock and now everyone thinks Apple is an innovator.
  • My company's Exchange settings disabled this feature so I have no idea how it works. =\
  • Its fast. But it will unlock your phone even if your eyes are closed. Thats not the case with one plus 5T. It checks if the person has his/her eyes open.