We're mere hours away from the grand unveiling of the Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, but the leaks are unlikely to dry up until the launch event is underway (follow along with our Pixel 7 launch live blog to learn about everything as it happens). The latest information to emerge on the flagship phones covers details of the face unlock and eSIM features.
This comes from Android expert Mishaal Rahman (via Android Police), who has been digging into the code in the Google Play Console – that's the platform used by developers to manage the availability of their apps on Android.
Google has been doing some groundwork for the arrival of the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro – codenamed Panther and Cheetah respectively – and that means some of the features of the new phones are now referenced in the Google Play Console database.
Oh, and also, both Pixel 7s declare support for 'android.hardware.biometrics.face', meaning they support secure face unlock! pic.twitter.com/vjGdkWgvj9September 29, 2022
Based on the code now in place, full face unlock will be coming to the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. The feature was left off the Pixel 5 and Pixel 6 phones having been one of the selling points of the Google Pixel 4 and Google Pixel 4 XL.
Google originally described the dropping of face unlock as a "good trade-off" in terms of the overall feature set offered by the Pixels, but there has been consistent chatter around the idea of it coming back for the Pixel 7 – and even being retroactively rolled out to the Pixel 6 phones as well.
The other tidbit revealed here is that the phones look set to support dual eSIM setups, rather than one physical SIM and one eSIM. Whether or not that means the Pixel 7 handsets will come without SIM trays – at least in some regions – remains to be seen. The launch event is scheduled for Thursday, October 6.
Analysis: the Pixels could get their Face ID back
It's not certain that the code spotted in the Google Play Console will equate to full, secure face unlock on the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro – but it's certainly looking more likely. It seems that at least some form of facial recognition feature will be offered.
Apple has of course gone all in with Face ID on its recent iPhones, except for the budget iPhone SE. As a phone unlock method it's fast, it's convenient, and it's secure, and Google should have really added it back to the Pixel line before now.
The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL included special radar sensor technology that could map a face incredibly quickly from a wide variety of angles. Face unlock worked so well on those phones that it was almost as if the lock screen wasn't there.
Having the same friction-free unlock experience would be a definite plus for the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro – and considering that several of the specs are expected to match their Pixel 6 predecessors, it seems that the new phones could use a few upgrades to show off.
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Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.