This simple hack could solve your Google Pixel 7 fingerprint reader troubles

An image of the Google Pixel 7 Pro and its fingerprint scanner
(Image credit: Future)

If you’ve been having trouble using the in-display fingerprint reader on a Google Pixel 6 or Pixel 7 series phone, you’re not alone. The phones' readers are notorious for being temperamental, and at times can refuse to acknowledge that you’re even trying to unlock the phone. Fortunately users on Reddit might have just figured out one of the causes.

In short, your Pixel’s fingerprint reader might be acting up because your hands are too dry. Which is an infuriatingly simple problem to have to deal with, but one that’s just as easy to workaround. It’s just a little bit crazy that it’s taken almost two years to figure this particular problem out.

The Reddit user in question claims to have had a long history of issues with their Pixel fingerprint scanner. That’s particularly apparent after showering, hand washing or swimming, and they’ve since discovered the problem can be mitigated by wiping their finger against the side of the nose.

Evidently the oils on the nose are enough to alleviate that dryness enough for the Pixel’s fingerprint scanner to register the attempt and unlock the phone. One commenter also notes that a bit of lotion will also do the trick, in case you find using facial oil a little too gross for regular use.

It’s also interesting that touching your face can be a solution. We’re generally told by health professionals, especially since the start of the pandemic, that we shouldn’t be doing that. And now ignoring that advice seems to be a quick solution to an on-going Pixel problem. In fact, multiple people confirmed that the trick (or something similar) works for them.

The Pixel's fingerprint scanner needs improvments

A photo of the Google Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro

(Image credit: Future)

The Pixel in-display fingerprint sensor has been causing problems ever since the launch of the Pixel 6 series back in October 2021. Various software updates have been released to try and improve performance, while the Pixel 7 seems to be a stark improvement over its predecessor.

The downside is, of course, that the Pixel 7 series still uses an optical fingerprint scanner, and these sorts of problems can remain. The fact that Pixel 7 owners have been saying the nose trick worked is evidence of that. 

For that reason we’re hoping that Google takes things a step further with the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro — ditching the optical sensor for an ultrasonic reader. These fingerprint readers are used on phones like the Samsung Galaxy S23 series, and use sound waves to generate a 3D image of a fingerprint instead of ordinary light. 

This means ultrasonic readers are more accurate, and aren’t impeded by things like dirt or other things that may interfere with a reading from an optical sensor. It’s also more secure, since would-be hackers would need a 3D replica of your fingerprint to bypass the screen lock.

It’s not clear whether such an upgrade is coming to the Pixel 8, but we don’t have too long to find out. Various details have already leaked, and we’re expecting the phone to launch sometime in the fall — following Google’s usual release schedule. Until then you can catch up on all the latest news and rumors in our Google Pixel 8 hub.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.