WTF? Sony latest Xperia phones still don't have fingerprint sensors -- only in the US
A bizarre deal prevents Sony from selling phones with fingerprint sensors in the United StatesBy Tim Schiesser 7 comments
The two new phones Sony announced at MWC 2017, the Xperia XZ Premium and the Xperia XZ, will reach the United States without fingerprint sensors. Or more accurately, the fingerprint sensors will be disabled in models sold in the US.
Sony has disabled the fingerprint sensor in their United States-bound phones for several generations now, and the exact reasons for this are still unclear. Every other country has access to the scanner, while buyers in the States are forced to use a software version that disables the fingerprint scanning hardware.
Android Central has investigated the issue further with Sony executives at MWC, and while Sony isn't divulging the specifics behind the lack of fingerprint scanning functionality, they did shed some light on the complicated problem.
It all essentially boils down to a deal Sony made to sell their smartphones in the United States. This deal, the specifics of which are unknown, prevents them from selling their phones with working fingerprint sensors. With phones like the Xperia XZ Premium that pack fingerprint sensor hardware, Sony had a choice: they could either not sell this phone in the States at all, or disable the sensor.
This bizarre deal seems to originate from Sony's transition from selling devices in partnership with carriers, to selling fully-unlocked handsets. Judging by the comments made by Sony Mobile's head of marketing for North America, Don Mesa, it sounds like this fingerprint sensor restriction was a penalty from leaving the carrier-backed market.
It's interesting to note that Sony does actually sell the same versions of their high-end phones in the United States, but they just disable the fingerprint scanner in software. Sony has also stated they'd prefer to sell phones in the States with fingerprint hardware enabled, and we're sure many customers would share the same feeling.
The good news is that Sony believes this deal has an expiry date. At some point in the future, they should be allowed to sell fingerprint-enabled hardware in the United States.