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Rumors say Pixel 9 series switching to ultrasonic fingerprint scanner

The Google Pixel 9 should be quicker to unlock as the brand plans to adopt the same ultrasonic fingerprint scanner as the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Google Pixel 9 scanner - a Google Pixel 8 in front of a purple PT background

Under-display fingerprint scanners are an undeniably convenient solution to phone unlocking, but not all fingerprint scanners are created equal. Until now, Google’s Pixel devices have relied on optical fingerprint scanning technology, while flagships from other manufacturers have adopted ultrasonic scanning tech, but the Google pixel 9 scanners may take that approach.

According to an exclusive report from Android Authority, an unnamed source told the outlet that the Pixel 9, Pixel 9 Pro, and Pixel 9 Pro XL will adopt Qualcomm’s 3D Sonic Gen 2 fingerprint scanner, the same unit found on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.

So, what’s the big deal? Well, Google’s fingerprint scanning has been less than impressive for a while now, it’s slower and more finicky than the fingerprint scanner found on other flagship devices. If there’s moisture or dirt involved, then you can expect a failed scan, something that’s much less of an issue with ultrasonic scanners.

Another downside to optical scanners is that they require a bright light source to work. If you’ve ever missed the scanner when attempting to unlock your phone in the dark, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. The scan area emits an eyeball-searing light, which isn’t an issue if your thumb is covering it, but it’s very uncomfortable if you misplace your digit in a dark room.

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Ultrasonic fingerprint scanners are also capable of scanning a much larger area, so your finger position doesn’t need to be as precise. The proposed sensor isn’t the most impressive in that regard. The 3D Sonic Max that features in phones like the Iqoo 11 has a much wider scan area, but it’s still better than an optical reader.

The only upcoming Pixel device that won’t be getting the ultrasonic treatment is the next Pixel Fold. Apparently, that model will retain its side-mounted scanning location.

The next generation of Pixel devices is expected to be unveiled on August 13, and we’ll be looking out for more news in the lead-up. For now, why not check out what the current Pixel phones offer by reading our guide to the best Google Pixel phones?