Google to fix Pixel 4 Face Unlock Issue

A Major Privacy Issue in Google Pixel 4


Google PIXEL and PIXEL XL are the android smartphones that are developed, designed and marketed by Google. Its manufacturer is HTC. The PIXEL series launched its first phone in 2017 and then one of the phone PIXEL 4 in its series was launched in 2019.

Specifications of Google Pixel 4:

Google Pixel 4 has Snapdragon 855 CPU with a 6GB RAM with the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system of Android 10. It has a new feature of Motion sense which enables us to use gesture control. It has a top camera with additional photography features. It also has 5G technology.

Google Pixel 4 Design and Camera

Fatal Face unlock security flaw of Google Pixel 4:

The Google Pixel 4’s face unlock isn’t as secure as people thought. People were made aware of this issue by Chris Fox from BBC news. The flaw is that the phone can be unlocked even if the person’s eyes are closed. The biometric system gives access to the phone either the person is awake or unconscious. It didn’t try to verify either someone is alive or dead. Cyber-security experts are concerned about this issue.

Associated Risks:

This issue of Pixel 4 face unlock is for obvious a privacy concern. All someone can do is to hold your phone upon your face even if you are sleeping and can unlock it. Thus, having access to it and could interfere with your privacy. Attackers or authorities can gain access to a person’s device without having their permission. Thus, anyone can get access to your private data and can even make payments.

The Pixel 4 Face unlock works in association with the phone’s radar-based Soli chip. When a Pixel user starts to reach for his phone, then this movement is detected by the Soli chip thus leading to the thorning on of face unlock.  In this way, the user can, just in a single motion, pick the phone up off of the desk and have it unlocked with his face.

Furthermore, Google has got rid of the fingerprint scanner on the Pixel 4 which means that there is no alternative biometric security option. You could go with a PIN or pattern, but for the persons who check their phones frequently, those unlocking methods are less convenient.

Google’s Response:

Google responded to this flaw by having a statement from Pixel product manager Sherry Lin, who says that there are only two facial recognition systems that meet the definition of being super secure for the verification of payments. Those two comprise of  Google’s Face Unlock and Apple’s Face ID.

So, according to Google, Pixel 4 face unlock meets the security requirements as a strong biometric and it can be used for payments and in bank apps for app authentication too. Google further adds that its Pixel 4 face unlock app is resilient via other means like with masks. And a person can temporarily disable face unlock by using lockdown mode that will then require a Pin/ pattern/ password temporarily.

Google claimed that they don’t have anything further to announce but the can make this Pixel 4 face unlock feature to get better with time with software updates.


Interestingly, evidence was seen that google at some point working on requiring attention at some point with Pixel 4 face unlock. A source familiar with Google’s plans ahead of launch tells us that this was intentional.

So, even if Google Pixel 4 isn’t well secure with its biometric sensors, this still doesn’t see to be the worst security flaw. And, Google still has the time to fix the issue before it faces consumers. Google is still working to improve the feature. And, in some earlier leaks, a settings option is shown that requires open eyes for Pixel 4 Face Unlock, so it may be a feature update that can roll out sooner than later.

Masab Farooque
Masab Farooque is a Tech Geek, Writer, and Founder at The Panther Tech. He is also a lead game developer at 10StaticStudios. When he is not writing, he is mostly playing video games