Pixel 4 Face Unlock works even if your eyes are closed

Pixel 4 home screen

We learned today that the Galaxy S10 has a security issue that allows any fingerprint to unlock Samsung’s phone when some screen protectors are used, but it turns out that the S10 isn’t the only smartphone making news for its security this week.

The Pixel 4’s Face Unlock feature works even if your eyes are closed, meaning someone could unlock your phone if you’re asleep. This was discovered by the BBC, who was able to repeat this test with several people. 

Google’s own support page for the Pixel 4’s Face Unlock feature confirms that this could happen, too. “Your phone can also be unlocked by someone else if it’s held up to your face, even if your eyes are closed,” the page says.

In a statement, Google said that “Pixel 4 Face Unlock meets the security requirements as a strong biometric.” Meanwhile, Pixel product manager Sherry Lin recently said, “They are actually only two face [authorisation] solutions that meet the bar for being super-secure. So, you know, for payments, that level – it’s ours and Apple’s.”

Google added that customers concerned about the security of their Pixel 4 can always turn on Lockdown mode to disable Face Unlock until you unlock your phone again. You can activate Lockdown mode by holding down the power button for a couple of seconds and selecting “Lockdown”.

Because Face Unlock can be used to unlock your phone if someone holds it up to your face and your eyes are closed, it may not be the most secure lock method you can use on your Pixel 4 if you’re really concerned about device security. It is convenient and fast, but you may want to opt for a PIN if you want more security. Google has said that it plans to improve Face Unlock on the Pixel 4 over time, so perhaps we’ll see the company add an option that’ll require your attention for Face Unlock to work, similar to what Apple has with Face ID.

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