Google's strategy with the Pixel 4 leading up to its release has been one of the most fascinating things I've ever seen in this industry. In June, the company shared an official render of the phone months before its expected release. Then, on July 29, Google shared a teaser video confirming what'll likely be the Pixel 4's biggest selling point — Motion Sense.
Motion Sense is the product of Google's Soli chip that was revealed in 2015, allowing for sophisticated face unlock and air gestures thanks to an impressive combination of sensors above the Pixel 4's display.
As exciting as Motion Sense is, however, it does appear to be killing off two features of the Pixel 3 — the fingerprint sensor and wide-angle selfie camera.
In all of the renders we've seen of the Pixel 4, there's been no sight of a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor like we've had on the Pixel, Pixel 2, and Pixel 3. Furthermore, we haven't heard any rumors regarding an in-display sensor like we've seen on the Galaxy S10 and OnePlus 7 Pro.
Instead, Google appears to be going the iPhone X route the way Apple did in 2018 — removing the fingerprint sensor and going all-in on facial recognition. Apple was met with plenty of uproar when it pulled this move, but once people actually started using Face ID and realized it worked as advertised, those roaring complaints mostly faded away.
Google appears to be putting just as much effort into the Pixel 4's face unlock system, using a combination of the front-facing camera, dot projector, flood illuminator, and two IR cameras to detect a user's face and unlock the phone. Furthermore, the Pixel 4 will be the first Android phone to tap into the Biometric API introduced in Android Pie. This means you'll be able to use the Pixel 4's face unlock to log into banking apps, authenticate mobile payments, etc.
If the Pixel 4's face unlock works as advertised, I don't think many people will miss the fingerprint sensor.
We reached out to Google for comment if our take on the missing fingerprint sensor was accurate, but the company simply said that it had "no comment" to provide at this time. Take that as you will.
However, that dedication to face unlock didn't just kill the fingerprint sensor — the Pixel 3's excellent wide-angle selfie camera also appears to be going the way of the dodo.
In the render of the Pixel 4 highlighting all of the various components above the display, we see just one camera instead of two. While it is likely that Google will go the route of the Pixel 3a and have a wide-ish selfie shooter that can use software to crop down to a more traditional field of view, we're still using one camera instead of two.
Even so, I'm not really put-off by these omissions. Instead, I'm quite excited to see how Motion Sense performs in daily use. Face ID is one of my favorite parts about using an iPhone these days, so to have similar functionality on the Pixel 4 is immensely exciting.
We obviously have quite a bit of time to wait before we'll know for sure one way or the other, but this latest tease from Google has me a lot more excited about the Pixel 4 than I previously was. Even if it means bidding farewell to the fingerprint sensor.
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