Face Unlock on Pixel 7: The problem of lack of security

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Google is offering a smartphone with Face Unlock for the first time since the Pixel 4. However, the focus is a pure software feature, the hardware cannot provide any security. This is a big disadvantage, compared to the iPhone smartphone for example.

Seems practical at first: skip the lock screen

Since Google itself classifies the new Face Unlock as rather insecure, some functions cannot be used. For example, if Face Unlock is set so that you can bypass the lock screen directly, there are two disadvantages for the user to notice.

Pixel 7 Face Unlock Settings

Face unlock also comes with some downsides

If this option is enabled, you won’t be able to use anything through the lock screen. Not a media player, not app notifications. The advantage, of course, is that once your face is recognized, you’ll immediately land on the home screen.

Pixel 7 lock screen bypass

Google Pay requires a finger sensor

Another disadvantage is that if the device is only face unlocked, you won’t have access to Google Pay. The phone is then unlocked, but the security clearance is not sufficient for services like Google Pay. Contactless payments are thus not possible.

Of course, it’s good that Google has done the right classification when it comes to security. But in daily life it can be a problem. So I always use a combination of both unlocking methods and always put my finger on the finger sensor immediately.

Low ambient light delays Face Unlock

Last but not least, Face Unlock only works through the conventional front camera with a dependency on light. Because there are no lasers or other sensors, for example, the front camera for Pixel Face Unlock always needs a bit more light than Apple’s solution. In my experience, this hasn’t been a real problem so far.

Does not immediately fall for photos and closes itself after failed attempts

After all, the system is not that easy to outwit with a photo. In several attempts at selfies via PC or smartphone, the Pixel 7 didn’t even fall for my attempts. After a few failed attempts, Face Unlock will be disabled to stay safe until you authenticate yourself with a PIN or fingerprint sensor.

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