Google’s New Pixel 4 Phones Have a Massive Face Unlock Security Risk

Joanna Estrada
October 18, 2019

Not to be outdone by Apple's Face ID, Google's equipped its upcoming fourth generation of Pixel phones with facial recognition tech so that all you need is that adorable mug to access your device.

Because of that, Google believes that face unlock is not only secure enough to lock your phone - but also for financial transactions and other secure authentication features across Android.

One of the selling points of the original Pixel device is that you had unlimited original quality uploads to Google Photos, especially if you take a lot of photos on your phone. It has been confirmed that the Face Unlock feature for the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL will still work even if your eyes are closed, the BBC reports. In contrast, Apple's Face ID makes sure you're alert before your iPhone will unlock. Google encourages users to keep their phone in a safe place "like your front pocket or handbag" to reduce the likelihood of these events.

For Pixel users who value this feature, it seems to have gone to the wayside on this go around, and likely for the foreseeable future if it holds with the Pixel 4. It's not even the worst case in recent memory.

If you're anxious about it, you can always turn on "lockdown", which disables features like notifications, and any of the phone's authentication methods. However, that option is off by default, and Apple suggests leaving it this way for ensured security.

For now, there is no way to mimic its competitor's security controls - at least not in the review units. Interestingly, in leaked images of the Pixel 4 showing the Face unlock setup process there was a setting labeled "Require eyes to be open" in the menu, but that is not present in shipping Pixels.

Google's Pixel 4 will not be available on the Indian market due to critical biometric components that operate on a frequency which is not allowed for use in India, the company said to CNN Business. When Android is in lockdown mode, it can only be unlocked with the passcode.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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