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This is why Sony phones in the U.S. don't have fingerprint sensors

This article was previously published in February 2017, but in light of Sony once again releasing phones in the U.S. with no fingerprint sensor, we thought we'd resurface it as a resource for those trying to understand what's going on.

Another year, another Sony phone launching in the U.S. without a fingerprint sensor — despite the exact same model packing the biometric authentication process everywhere else in the world. With the announcement of the Xperia XZ Premium and XZs, Sony once again has a couple of enticing phones. And even though it seems to have made good strides in terms of cameras and a few other pain points, this one issue still plagues it. For whatever reason, Sony cannot bring a phone to the U.S. with a functioning fingerprint sensor.

The question of why this is the case has been a constant bugbear for us as we speak with Sony representatives time after time, and at MWC 2017 we got perhaps the most candid explanation of what's going on.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium

Speaking with Don Mesa, who is Head of Marketing, North America for Sony Mobile U.S., we started to get a more concrete picture of what's going on here. When asked about the exclusion of fingerprint authentication on the Xperia XZ Premium specifically, Mesa explained, "There are a lot of external and internal factors that contribute to us making a conscious decision not to include [fingerprint]."

For now, in order for Sony to sell phones in the U.S. it cannot include fingerprint sensors.

The "external" portion of that statement is the interesting part, and something that wasn't previously disclosed. For the past couple of years, Sony's stance on not including fingerprint sensors in the U.S. was that it didn't see demand for them and there was a business decision made to not include the feature. This external factor, it seems, is something to do with deals it has made (or terminated) in the U.S. specifically. When asked further about those factors Mesa continued, "[...] that was very much about us consciously deciding that we want to continue our business here [in the U.S.], and [that's] one of the conditions for us to be able to do business."

So here's the meat of the issue: based on some deal previously made relating specifically to the U.S., in order for Sony to sell phones in the country it cannot ship them with functioning fingerprint sensors. Taking the lesser of two evils, Sony chose to continue to sell phones with the fingerprint sensor disabled instead of give up on the U.S. entirely — and this seems to be the case still, as Sony has continued to sell a wide range of unlocked phones here. So despite this bizarre limitation against using fingerprint sensors, Sony still sees the U.S. as an important market and wants to keep selling its top-end devices here.

When pressed for specifics, Mesa acknowledged the rub with U.S. carriers in Sony's transition from selling carrier-backed phones to going entirely unlocked, eventually leading to this fingerprint situation in some way. Events like the launched-then-canceled Xperia Z4V and various one-off carrier devices that never sold well seem to point to Sony having troubles dealing with the U.S. operators. It wouldn't be surprising if a deal (or deals) gone bad led to some fingerprint exclusivity problems as a penalty of such a fallout. Of course the real rub here is the specifics of such deals are not — and may never be — disclosed.

So what can we take away from this? Well, the first part is that Sony confirms it is indeed consciously shipping its phones to the U.S. with fingerprint sensors ... and that at the same time it is explicitly disabling them in software. Sony Mobile U.S. is, for the first time, also confirming that without these outside factors influencing these decisions, it would prefer to be shipping phones in the U.S. with fingerprint sensors enabled. That in no way completely lets Sony off the hook here, though — it takes two to tango, and Sony itself was obviously involved in whatever mechanism led to this odd limitation surrounding fingerprint sensors. Someone signed off on this, and it's been a constant thorn in the side of the company since.

And no matter the mechanism of how this all came to be, it isn't much solace for those of us in the U.S. who are big fans of Sony design and hardware but will continue to refuse to buy its phones until they have such a basic feature. U.S. customers deserve a fingerprint sensor just as much as anyone else in the world buying a Sony phone. And Sony itself seems to think this is a short-term limitation that, when lifted, will comfortably be put in the rear-view mirror as it continues to sell unlocked phones in the country.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

193 Comments
  • At least we know more about the decision. It's still not good. I'd like to know what really happened. Hopefully it's something that we in the US won't have to live with for long. Also, it doesn't explain the crazy expensive price these phones are going for, fingerprint sensor or not.
  • Sony = greedy that explains price... don't buy Sony
  • So the Americans can consume "Designed in California" products
  • Was the Pixel designed in California?
  • Ummm, yes. In Mountain View, CA.
  • Well, that's the party line. I suspect there's more HTC in the design than Google let on.
  • I remember reading an article where the Pixel was originally supposed to be designed together with Huawei but the deal went sour at the last minute (only a few months before launch) so they had to basically grab HTC and make a phone at the last minute. At least that's what I remember reading.
  • That doesn't sound last minute, not even last month!
  • If you knew anything about the development times for a new phone, then you'd know it was very last minute.
  • If you knew anything about the development time for a new phone, you'd know that there's no such thing as "last minute" in that department. They need lead times of months, not minutes.
  • Umm...last minute doesn't mean literally last minute, simply extremely late. I take it English isn't your mother tongue then? No problem then.
  • In English, "last minute" is called a 'figure of speech' and is not to be taken literally.
  • Typically it takes at least 6 months to design a phone, source parts, build a supply chain, and ramp up manufacturing and assembly.
  • Oh yeah the branding ordeal. Huawei wanted their name on the Pixel.
  • Why is this getting downvoted? He's correct. Apple is greedy too.
  • Everybody who sells anything is greedy, don't buy anything. (Sarcasm)
  • So I'm still lost on why exactly they can't sell phones with a fingerprint sensor in America but I guess that will never be fully disclosed for whatever reason. I wonder if Sony did something illegal in the past when it came to their phones being sold in America and a way around it was to agree to never use a fingerprint sensor or something else totally weird. I'm just taking a guess but it seems extremely odd that whatever happened in the past was so bad that none of their phones can use this feature when every other company doesn't have that problem when it comes to selling phones in America...
  • I don't think Sony did anything illegal. And the context here is that Sony seems to believe this is a limited time issue — otherwise it probably wouldn't continue to sell phones in the U.S.
  • us gov wants it to be easy for them to hack into our phones illegal if they want..
    fingerprint makes it harder to hack into
  • That has nothing to do with this. You can always simply encrypt your phone. That's more important than using fingerprint vs. not.
  • US law enforcement can have you unlock via fingerprint but not via password/pin/pattern.
  • Only if they have a warrant. They can't force you to unlock it without one.
  • Actually it has nothing to do with a warrant, warrant makes it legal. They can physically force you to unlock your device with your fingertip, whereas they can't physically force you (outside of torture) to unlock your phone via a PIN. One is physical, you could be passed out and they can unlock the phone just by using your hand, the other requires mental cooperation to unlock the device. No problem if you're doing nothing illegal. I'm pretty sure they can figure out other ways to get inside your phone too regardless of the security settings.
  • Yup. They can make got unlock with fingerprint but not if it's a pin number only.
  • Fingerprint sensors do not make your phone harder to "hack into," and actually make it easier for you to be legally compelled to unlock your phone for law enforcement.
  • Cant unlock it, Officer.
    Must be a Sony. Have a nice day.
  • Having a fingerprint sensor really, really, really, really, really does not make it more difficult for a government agency to "hack" into your phone. Especially illegally, the opposite is true. Really.
  • Fingerprint sensors are more about convenience than security, so no, it ain't that.
  • Fingerprints actually make it easier, consideringredients many federal courts have upheld that the police can force you to use your Fingerprint to uNick you phone. But can't force you to give your password.
  • They CAN sell them in the U.S. but don't want to because HP owns the rights to the side Power button with fingerprint sensor in it technology, so Sony has to pay licensing fees just to use it. Since they don't sell a ton of their phones in the U.S. anymore, they choose not to enable it just to save money. That's the REAL reason. That's just one of many reasons why I decided to go back to HTC. They actually care about their U.S. customers.
  • Not a fan of Sony phones but was always curious as to why they couldn't. If that's the reason than that makes a lot of sense why. Thanks for the info.
  • I'd be more inclined to think that there was some sort of patent infringement going on, Either a law suit, or the beginning of one and there was a settlement reached. Part of the settlement being that they couldn't use fingerprint sensors. That's only guesswork of course. Or a business agreement reached with a similar result "we'll let you use our RAM but you're not allowed to use fingerprint sensors", or "We'll use your cameras in our devices but you have to use our fingerprint sensors (or not use any)".
  • Ohh that makes sense. I see.
  • It's weird because the Nextbit Robin also had a side-mounted sensor.
  • It's not the fact that it's side-mounted. If it were that easy, Sony would likely design around it.
  • So it's everything to do with licensing deals and patents?
  • Seems to be something more in that realm, from what I can tell.
  • Which sucks because having a side mounted sensor is life changing.
  • But WHY???
  • Yep not buying until fingerprint is enabled on US firmware.
  • So Purchase an international version. they are on amazon at regular price generally within about a week of release.
  • Or do the more complicated thing and flash international ROM onto the US phone; it's what I did to my US Xperia X Compact. It works quite well!
  • I have a lot of questions . . .
  • shoot.
  • Is it carriers or hardware manufacturers enforcing this limitation? Or a combination?
  • This we don't know. Particularly, we don't know how many parties are involved. It seems more tied to carriers, tho, TBH.
  • The carriers have too much clout in the U.S.
  • Agreed a hundred times over.
  • This puzzles me. If the current phones that are be no sold by Sony in the US aren't on carriers and are unlocked, how would carrier deals even effect the decision to include/exclude fingerprint sensors even be a factor?
  • Why would this be carrier based. Carriers sell many phones with Fingerprint sensors.
    So I don't see how they could be singling our Sony, or what reason they would have to do so..
  • I would think that would be a condition if Sony wanted to sell devices through the carrier rather than unlocked though.
  • Unless it's being forced on Sony in order to be able to sell phones on the carriers in the future. The catch 22 in that case would be that by the time Sony could sell phones through the carrier again Sony's brand image is irevicallbly damaged by that point. Heck it already is to am extent.
  • I personally think it has something to do with Apple. Maybe sony has licensed the patent but not able to use it in the US fur so many years.... Just a thought.
  • So if it's a system limitation, can custom ROMs unlock this functionality?
  • Has always been the case. The sensor is there, it's just disabled in firmware. Sony acknowledges that it's as simple as flashing firmware from a European version of the phone and the sensor will work. Of course, it would never provide those files itself.
  • Ah, man.
  • I believe so, yes.
  • You can use UK firmware..
  • With a little ingenuity and tweaking you can literally hack and convert your phone camera into a fingerprint scanner
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yWFBie7Lcs
  • Those bezels too though ........Good lord
  • I also don't like huge bezels but for some reason I find it nice on Sony's devices, maybe because the corners aren't rounded.
  • Andrew - can someone in the U.S. but an international Sony phone with the FP Sensor enabled & have most if not all bands work on AT&T or T-Mobile?
  • I think you can buy the US phone and just flash the international software, as least for some Sony models in the past. Confirm on XDA before trying that of course
  • Good deal, thanks.
  • You would have to check the specific radio bands of the specific model you're trying to buy. There are way too many versions for me to say "yes" to that question as a whole. But as others will note, you can also buy a "U.S." model and flash European firmware to enable fingerprint ... though there are always grey areas and caveats there too.
  • I definitely will. Good to know.
  • So, Sony wanted to sell unlocked phones, a carrier (Verizon?) didn't want the extra competition from unlocked devices, a disagreement ensued, with the final agreement being that Sony would basically gimp their phones for a certain number of years so they couldn't compete as well against the carrier's phones. Something along those lines?
  • The carrier was probably T-Mobile
  • As a former employee, I'd wager it was AT&T. T-Mobile seemed to love their contract, people were swapping carriers to get a Sony device. But this is all speculation, the fact of the matter is , we'll never really know what actually happened.
  • Not sure of the exact mechanics, but yeah something like that seems probable. Could have easily involved multiple parties and multiple concessions/agreements.
  • My guess is that there was some fine print that said that if they didn't sell x number of units for some carrier then their'd be some clause that Sony wanted out of and this is how they got out of it. Interesting thing to me is that it's the whole US. If it were carrier based then I would expect it to target CDMA (V or S) or GSM (A or T) instead of the whole country. Either way it sounds like an end date exists in the future and Sony is prepped to roll out an update enabling all these Sensors... Sure wish we knew when though....
  • the "why" is meaningless. Its the "when" that matters. As in, "when" will Sony start shipping phones that arent crippled? Until then, Sony just doesn't exist.
  • Sony won't say when. Otherwise people would just wait for that time before buying the phones. Or possibly can't say when due to contractual obligations
  • I don't see why 'muricans complain. At least the hardware is there and you just need to replace the software... Whilst the likes of LG, also with bullsh*t excuses, actively deprivea customers from hardware on a region-basis.
  • I think it's still a totally valid complaint to expect a working fingerprint sensor out of the box. "All you have to do is ..." answers aren't good enough.
  • Exactly
  • I'm not disputing that. I'm just saying considering that they could be a bunch of elitist arseh*les like LG and just not ship a fingerprint sensors AT ALL with some bullsh*t excuse, at least they *do* ship the sensor to the US and people who REALLY want a fingerprint reader (I personally still don't care about it) and a Sony device can at least solve the problem themselves. Much harder to fix the lack of hardware altogether.
  • Why should we void our warranty for a fingerprint sensor when everyone else around the world doesn't have to?
  • Flashing official firmware doesn't void your warranty, though.
  • It's not an official firmware if the firmware is from another phone or region. It still could void your warranty...
  • Just flash the original firmware for warranty purposes, then. It takes ~3 minutes to do it.
  • It IS official firmware, even if it's from another region.
    From another PHONE, that's a different story. And that will likely brick your phone if you're stupid enough to try to flash firmware into the XZ from, say, the X Performance.
    However, the XZS and XZP are NOT american exclusives. They'll be available worldwide. If you flash the software from country, you're not voiding your warranty. Hell, you can flash the Canadian software for example. Same region, different country. And like Hieu said, if you have to take it to assistance and you're scares Sony will refuse it on that ground, flash the US firmware back to it. Though it's pointless. They do it for you anyway.
  • the only thing could void your warranty is if you unlock bootloader and you should know, every firmware on xperifirm is official, unofficial is custom-rom
  • "Bugbear"?
  • http://www.dictionary.com/browse/bugbear Second definition.
  • I still really don't get it at all.
  • Fyi, tmobile is now doing 3 lines unlimited for $100
    Tmo ftw
  • Actually, that deal is only for T-Mobiles current US customers with a ton of attached fine print so it's not FTW.
  • It still doesn't answer the question :
    Why can't they sell phones with fingerprint sensor?
  • "Of course the real rub here is the specifics of such deals are not — and may never be — disclosed."
  • I am rather frustrated by that. Because either it's The government stepping in and saying "No" or it's the carriers who refuse to support it. Either way, it feels like a dirty underhanded way to do business - to which Sony is basically the victim of.
  • Or it has to do with a patent dispute between manufacturers. To me, government forcing it doesn't seem likely.
  • Yeah I don't see the FCC or FTC putting those kind of limitations on a company. It's a carrier issue. They were most likely under contract when they decided to go unlocked.
  • Sounds like sony is a "victim" of their own poor negotiation skills. They literally are the ONLY company that has this issue.
  • Actually, Motorola mysteriously excluded fingerprint sensors from its entire lineup in 2015 when it decided to sell unlocked non-carrier specific devices... Coincidence?
  • the sensor is there, the software is disabled.. it's just need your knowledge to enabled it
  • So they sell unlocked here in the US yet some sort of carrier deal is preventing them from including the sensor? Is there a carrier you can use their phone on that you otherwise couldn't? Like, can you use their phones on Sprint or Verizon even though they are CDMA? Seems weird to me. There must be oter parts to this deal. Like maybe some other part of Sony is in on the deal like the Playstation part of the company or something. If a business agreement like this leaked and made the other company look bad I wonder what would happen?
  • Then don't sell your phones here (US) until your "limited time" problem is resolved.
  • The problem there is that it's probably better for Sony's brand to keep selling phones and creating products that are somewhat interesting but just missing fingerprint than to drop entirely from the market and have people forget Sony is in the U.S.
  • I can completely follow that line of reasoning. For me, though, I'm not going to buy their phone here in the US and then have my warranty invalidated by flashing it to have the FPS functionality it should have out of the box. It's already been an ongoing issue for at least a couple of years, hopefully they can resolve it sooner rather than later, going forward.
  • The rub is that when that mystical date comes, all Sony devices that have the hardware, which is most of them, will automagically get an update enabling the sensor.
  • All? Unlikely.
  • Flashing a Sony Firmware from a different country (.ie. UK) does not void warranty becasue you are using a Sony provided firmware. You dont need to unlock bootloader or Root the phone to do this.
    http://www.xperiablog.net/2016/03/12/install-xperia-marshmallow-using-fl...
  • 'Here's Why..' Fails to actually say why, Clickbait headline, how disappointing. #Fakenews
  • What, can you read? People assumed it was a conscious decision by Sony to not include fingerprint without this info. Now it is clear this is not something Sony is voluntarily omitting in the US....they have to omit that feature or they can't sell ANY phones in the US. And Android Central didn't fail to provide the exact details, but instead, Sony themselves cannot say or I'm sure...face further penalties for doing so. #Fakecomment
  • It would be really interesting to know what company made Sony sign a contract to not sell phones with fingerprints in US. I am guessing it's got to be Verizon based off the Z4V being canceled. My theory is Sony backed out of the contract to sell a Z4v on Verizon because they either lost money on the Z3v. They lost money on the Z3v because Verizon made Sony manufacture a completely different variant of the Z3 with lots of plastic. Sony likely realised it was costing them wayyy too much money to design a entirely different phone with different materials for just for 1 US carrier, so they backed out of the contract. Anytime you back out of an existing contract there is stipulations (consequences) of canceling it. Backing out of the contract likely kicked in the consequences of breaking a existing contract, which was none of their phones in US could have finger print sensors for 3-5 years, and they could not sell any phones on any other US carriers for 3-5 years. That's my theory and based off events of the past, based off Verizon's bully history, and based off this article that theory seems to be highly plausible. If that theory is the case it's sad and 1 of many reasons I will never be a Verizon customer. It makes me want to buy a Sony phone to support them further. Good for them on not giving up on the US market despite the hurdles, but bad on them signing such contract with who ever it was.
  • So reading between the lines here, this is what my guess as to what's happened: 1. Sony sought out a major US carrier to carry one of its phones.
    2. The carrier agrees but adds a stipulation ot the Sony/Carrier X contract which reads something like: Carrier X will carry Sony's phone in its carrier stores for an x number of months. In exchange for his Sony agrees not to sell an identical unlocked phone in the US. Any unlocked phone would need to be differentiated from the Carrier X phone by 1 or more of the following 1., 2, 3, etc, 27 NO FINGERPRINT SCANNER This explains a lot about phone manufacturer/carrier relationships. For a long time I have suspected a similar contract between Verizon and Motorola. For a long time people puzzled over why the Moto X had such small batteries. I think the Droid contract required it to be so.
  • Exactly! You got the right idea of how it works!
  • But Sony is not selling on any carrier for couple of years now. It's probably more that they aren't willing to pay someone some licensing fee or something like that?
  • But just think about it, not including the FPS clearly causes much more damage than the gain from not paying the licensing fee. Also, Sony doesn't seem to be that kind of a company which openly commits patent infringement all over the world.
  • Yeah... A couple years exactly ever since they backed out of their Z4v. That's not a coincidence. Backing out of that contract likely put a cancellation clause of the contract that prevents them from selling on any US carrier for X number of years. Probably 3-5 years.
  • Hopefully this is not an indefinite restriction and it ends soon. In which case perhaps they can activate these sensors eventually.
  • There's no way it's indefinite. If it was Sony likely wouldn't still be selling in the US at all. Plus with ANY contract there has to be some sort of end date. We know the end date of this US fingerprint and carrier restriction was for at least 2 years, because it's been over 2 years since the Z3v was released. If I had to guess it was probably for 3 to 5 years. Which would mean we won't see Sony phones with fingerprint sensors in US for at least 1 to 3 more years.
  • Instead of needing to get a foreign rom, they should have a setting "This phone was purchased in USA". When unchecked the fingerprint sensor is enabled. They could even put some disclaimer about it being bad to lie.
  • You don't really understand contract law, do you?
  • No sorry, contract law degree not required for android central comments.. Please explain how disabling something in software is different between a checkbox and a rom.
  • Basically Sony said external factors with someone else is preventing from allowing them to provide fingerprint sensors in the US. Therefore that essentially means they have a contract with someone (probably Verizon) that they agreed to not sell ANY phone to ANY one in the US for a certain number of years. Allowing it to be enabled in their stock US phone software would be a breach of their contract with whoever it is. Then whoever that company is (probably Verizon) could sue Sony for breaking the contract. See my comment above for my detailed theory as to probably what happened. TLDR Verizon is a bully and probably forced Sony into this.
  • Thank you all for schooling me in hypothetical contract law. My original post was somewhat in jest - should have included a /s. Just trying to say that it is a silly situation to have hardware with missing software on an unlocked phone. For the people in the know who buy unlocked phones, the end result will be the same as a "USA checkbox" in settings.
  • Silly? Yes definitely. But the point as I mentioned is for that company to hurt Sony. Whoever that company is... They succeeded because people are refusing to buy Sony phones until there's a finger print sensor. Therefore hurting Sony mobile sales. Business Bullying at its best!
  • Sony (and their their legal department - I'm sure they have corporate lawyers that work directly for them) should have read the contract & objected to any questionable terms or clauses *before* signing.
  • All I know is that I'll never purchase a Sony phone in the US that doesn't have a functioning fingerprint sensor.
  • you're definitely not alone there.
  • You and everyone who says this clearly does not realize you are letting Verizon win. If supposedly some company (probably Verizon) bullied Sony into this contract for breaking their Z4v contract, you should be giving sympathy to Sony and boycotting Verizon. Not the reverse. Because whatever company did this (probably Verizon) did this to hurt Sony on purpose by making people in the US want Sony phones less by making it against contract sell fingerprint sensors. Retinella If you still don't get it then you probably never will honestly.
  • I don't care who's to blame here. I want the convenience of unlocking my phone using a fingerprint scanner. If a phone doesn't have a functioning fingerprint scanner, I will never purchase it. End of story.
  • Understandable... Just saying don't blame Sony. It doesn't seem to be fully their fault.
  • Apparently Sony went into the agreement with their eyes wide open. How is it Verizon's fault that Sony made a stupid mistake?
  • How can carriers enforce a hardware limitation? I could see restricting radio bands or whatnot but what kind of idiotic deal did Sony make with carriers that would limit what hardware features they put in? I'm not sure if this helps or reduces my opinion on Sony's exclusion of this feature.
  • It's called a contract. If Sony willingly signed a contract with certain hardware limitations in it, that is enforceable. Sony was stupid, basically.
  • I think sony licensed the patent from Apple and sony isn't allowed to use it in the US fur so many years....
  • This limitation doesn't bother me, since I import phones most of the time. However, it's really not good for the overall look of the company. Like the article said, most will just end up skipping on Sony phones because of this. Hopefully the issue gets resolved sooner than later, it's annoying as a fan of Sony's phones. Sent from my Sony Xperia X Compact
  • In other words, Sony made some really stupid business deals in the past and is now paying the price.
  • DOA!
  • So can they sell it with the fingerprint scanner disabled and then enable it via a software update?
  • They are selling it with the fingerprint sensors disabled. They could enable it with software, but won't until whatever deal they made with the devil expires. You can install a European ROM and the sensor will work. I don't know what the differences between them are. And we won't until the phones are actually released. NOTE: Not All Models have FingerPrint Sensors, so make sure that your's does before you buy the US version.
  • The models Sony sells in the US HAVE a fingerprint scanner. It's just not enabled in the software.
    Flash the firmware from an European country (Britain, for example) and the fingerprint reader becomes operational.
  • Tldr Please summarise why they would be forced NOT to include it. I don't understand how this punishment benefits any punisher.
  • Because a company wants to punish Sony for whatever deal went bad. That's how this works — there has to be a penalty.
  • I'm going to be honest. If blu can afford to sell phones here in the US with fingerprint scanners then Sony can most definitely find a way to include them if their heart was really in it. Charging the prices that Sony does for their high end phones whole excluding the fingerprint sensor here just insane. Sony isn't living in the real world when it comes to the US market. They want to keep the profit margins at the same levels as past devices (aka Z2, Z3, etc.) but have to strip features and build to accomplish this. What good are keeping your profit margins high if you can't move devices in the majority of markets due to very intense competition?
  • I do agree most flagship Sony phones are usually about $50 too high at release. Not way over priced, but just a lil bit over.
  • I'm thinking more in terms of features included at that price range such as fingerprint scanner, water resistance and a camera app that doesn't fight you. Most flagships are ahead of Sony at this point. Seriously doubt Sony is going to be able to catch up at this point with almost no momentum in their brand (at least in the US).
  • What are you talking about?! All their current flagships are water proof. In fact they were the FIRST major cell phone manufacture to do a water proof phone. It was the Z3 which was over 4 years ago. All their flagships since have been water proof. So they are literally the father of water proofing phones. Lastly I can't think of any standard flagship feature they don't offer except for a finger print sensor. So I have no idea what you mean by catch up. Only thing I wish is that they had themes for their software.
  • "U.S. customers deserve a fingerprint sensor just as much as anyone else in the world buying a Sony phone." Obviously not, since US customers are voters and thus the basis of a system, where such a ridiculous limitation is actually possible...
  • what
  • So many people in this thread are hilarious. They clearly don't understand business or legal business contracts. "Well.. Sony should just do it!" Okay watch Sony get sued for it then. Lol.
  • Really? And how do you know that's the case? Sony didn't explain why in the real sense of the term so anything said by anyone here is hypothetical at best. No need to understand law for hypothetical situations like this....
  • It's not hypothetical. The Sony marketing lady literally said it was an external factor preventing them from putting a fingerprint sensor, despite them wanting to provide put 1 on their phones. The only "external factor" that can do that for multiple generations of phones and not affect other manufactures is a legal contract they have with some company that does not allow fingerprint sensors. The only hypothetical is assuming the contract is with Verizon. However its highly like it's with Verizon since Sony backed out of Z4v basically last minute. That's exactly when this all started right after that. Sony stopped selling on carriers ever since that year, and other manufactures started fingerprint sensors that same year (2015) and Sony never did. The timeline matches up exactly.
  • Man, do you have nothing better to do than troll this article and bash on Verizon who you've never even been a customer with? I don't know if you're just to broke and upset Verizon costs to much for you or if you are just trying to make up excuses for Sony but nowhere did Sony call out Verizon and furthermore Sony clearly stated that their decision was based off of internal factors, did you read that? Internal factors as well as external. So what ever lightbulb clicked on in your head telling you that you have to troll the comments and bash on everyone who didn't get your hair brained idea that Verizon is out to get Sony, click it off buddy. Go home and get some rest. There is no big bad carrier out to get Sony, Sony screwed themselves and whoever they were in bed with by signing on the dotted line and then pulling out leaving someone else on the hook for a lot.
  • Im not trolling anyone here. Just voicing the obvious about Verizon. Okay... So if you're so sure that's not it I would love to hear what you think this external factor is? Especially since you seem to think a canceled contract clause is impossible. Also FYI I work at 1 of the biggest tech companies in the world. A bigger company than Verizon. Clearly I can afford Verizon if I want it. Verizon has the best coverage, but that doesn't mean they are a good company. This is a company that even had thousands of their employees go on strike for several weeks. Even a lot of their own employees hate Verizon. Lol! I don't know where you been but pretty much everyone who reads tech news know s Verizon is a big bully in the industry. Also in case you missed it even the EDITOR of this article agrees it's a cancelled contract with another company that Somy signed thats preventing the fingerprint sensors. So you're in the minority if you think that's not possible. It's definitely not a far stretch for anyone to assume that contract is with Verizon.
  • No fingerprint and a bezel that is unrivaled. Sony is KIA.
  • So here's my theory. They were under contract to provide a phone with a fingerprint sensor exclusively to "X" carrier. Sony decided to go unlocked but are still under contract to provide said phone with a sensor to X carrier. So until that contract expires, they can't sell a phone with a FP sensor.
  • Why wouldn't the Sony phones on that carrier have the FPS enabled, if that's the case? I'm not saying you're wrong, but it would be nice to know if there is a carrier that has Sony phones with a working FPS.
  • Some of us have been thinking it may have to do with this U.S. patent about a fingerprint scanner and power button: https://www.google.com/patents/US20120019356 filed by two people who were at HP at the time (2009). It certainly would seem to cover what Sony is doing, but if it is as simple as that and they can't reach some agreement with HP about using it, why not just say so?
  • The NextBit Robin has the same fingerprint scanner + power button combo. Given that they were a startup that launched their first phone on Kickstarter, I doubt HP is the main culprit. If it was directly related to HP's patent, that would be the end of that discussion, but Sony still remains a bit secretive about it so there's likely something else they're not able to disclose for legal reasons.
  • Ah the Nextbit Robin, forgot about that guy. Good point!
  • It can't POSSIBLY be a Patent problem. I mean, Nextbit Robin has had a fingerprint sensor on the side for a YEAR or so, and they haven't been sued to oblivion. What then must Sony be facing here...?
  • Exactly.. it's not a patent. It's a contract that says they can't have any fingerprint sensors in the US.
  • That's nuts that Sony would agree to a contract like that. Either somehow they were in a really weak position with Verizon or just didn't really care about the US market because that essentially kills Sony's mind share here.
  • I smell horse ....it - and Germany - Sony -D.T- H.T - keep up people this is a joke ' agreement ' to sell in the divided states laughing loudly hahahaha
  • That's just moronic. I wouldn't touch one of their phones with no FPS no matter how good it is. They shouldn't even be selling in the US in my opinion.
  • Will always go with Sony no matter what. They are the only company that is sensitive to those of us that don't have fingerprints. It's a tough life we live, but at least Sony is there to give us a safe space to use our phones in without the constant reminder of our disability.
  • Use a 'Head Print' (unless that's been worn smooth too). Bonerus is if anyone asks you can just say you're unlocking your Phone, for a bigger boner Law Enforcement can't force you to unlock your Phone. Beat that! 😁
  • tl;dr
    Verizon wanted to steal your fringerprint data and give it to the NSA but Sony said no.
    ;p
  • Ha! +1
  • Sony should give up trying to make anything except the PlayStation...It's like watching a monkey EFF a football with everything else.
  • How is this not illegal? Fair trade etc?
  • If Sony signed agreement with Someone to not provide it... It's completely legal. Obviously Sony is regretting it now.
  • What a bullshit article. Clickbait Headline:
    "This is why Sony phones in the U.S. don't have fingerprint sensors" Article Content: "It's a secret ".
  • So the reason for such lack is "something external" (and internal) that is unknown, most likely will remain that way and might have something to do with carriers.
    That's THE WHY!?!???
  • I actually don't want a fingerprint sensor. I would never use it because of the legal ramifications. Jerry has discussed these problems on past podcasts. I'll stick with patterns, PINs, and passwords, thanks. Proudly typed on my Sony Xperia X Compact
  • The nice thing about having a working fingerprint sensor is this...what if you DIE and nobody else knows your password, pin, or pattern???? Well, if "they" really need to get into your phone all they need to do is push one of your cold, dead, fingers onto the reader and Voila!
  • Actually, believe it or not that doesn't work. Unless it's immediately after death and before embalming the fingerprints will not be readable by scanner. My family ran into this when someone passed away and we could not get into their Iphone.
  • Who is going to buy a high-end smartphone wihtout a fingerprint sensor? I can't believe these will sell at all given all the competition that has them. I would love to get the XZ Premium for Daydream (2K per eye!) but I'm not buying a phone without a fingerprint sensor, period. I can't believe anyone else is going to either (knowingly).
  • I could care less about biometric locks...and would NEVER use them! You can refuse to unlock your phone for "law enforcement" under 5th Amendment protections, but those protections do NOT extend to biometrics!
  • Yeah you can literally enable the Fingerprint Sensor. I bought mines last week and did it and it works flawlessly!
  • P.S. guys...you can re-enable the disabled fingerprint sensor by rooting your phone. It's pretty damn easy to do!
  • I don't think you even need to root, I thought you could just flash the international firmware
  • You can, root not required.
  • Sony could probably circumvent their Verizon agreement using the soon-to-be-released Experia XZ-Premium's Snapdragon 835 processor which contains "biometric technology security" for various applications, including mobile payments, enterprise access, personal data protection as well as secure fingerprint recognition.
  • My understanding is that Apple holds a patent for a fingerprint reader in the power button and Sony does not want to get into legal issues in the USA about this.
  • Umm...my LG G6 has it's sensor on the rear power button. Far as I know, Apple isn't going after them.
  • Is that actually the power button?, or like so many other phones, the 'unlock/activate' button.
  • Is actually the power button. My dad has one. It's extremely convenient.
  • Then why doesn't Apple have their fingerprint sensor IN the power button?
  • The Nextbit Robin also has a power button finger print sensor. Located on the side of the phone no less. For what it's worth maybe they were just able to pay the company who owns this specific patent a licensing fee and for whatever reason said company is just refusing to allow Sony to license it in the US... or maybe Nextbit (Razor) are the ones that actually own that patent and they are the ones refusing to let Sony use it.
  • Just root the damn phone and enable the fingerprint sensor if u need to use a Sony phone badly.
  • Flashing a Sony Firmware from a different country (.ie. UK) does not void warranty becasue you are using a Sony provided firmware. You dont need to unlock bootloader or Root the phone to do this.
    http://www.xperiablog.net/2016/03/12/install-xperia-marshmallow-using-fl...
  • This is big government control here going on. Chances are something happened between at&t and Sony. I don't know if any one realizes it or not but Sony is maybe the only brand to refuse to lock mobile hotpot on it's phones. In other words their phones don't handshake with the providers to see if you have the option. You can just flip the switch on and your good. This is the way data should be and I think Sony disagrees with the US's stance on requiring you to pay extra or be limited. Sony went unlocked in the US and as part of this agreement they couldn't have working finger print scanners or the fcc just won't approve their phones with them. If this isn't the case something surely is. Sony has been a reputable company for years making quality products and something is definitively being hidden. I tend to lean toward government/ at&t cover up.
  • On another note the Mate 9, and Honor 8 require a car charger not offered in the us with no reasonable explanation while the charger is offered in any other country. Could the government be picking a item on these brands to make sure there is something to hold them back?
  • I don't understand where big government comes in. You mentioned AT&T and Sony.
  • I strongly belive it has more to do with a North American device manufacturer threatening to sue over some patent(s) than anything carrier specific, unless for some reason the patent is held by a carrier, wich is unlikely.
  • Oh. This is just a repost of an old article.
    It's frustrating because it doesn't actually answer why.
    If there is some patent on a fingerprint sensor on a side power button, well, Sony loves their bezels. They could put one at the bottom of the phone. Bend you design language a little bit so you can sell a few more phones guys. If it's not a patent issue, why would a phone company make such punitive demand? I cant see the reason/
  • Am I the only one around here who doesn't care about fingerprint sensors? I don't trust anyone with that kind of information. You can change your password easily, but fingerprints are permanent, barring surgery or something. Additionally, apart from a worrying court case I read about a little while back, the gov't can compel you to give your fingerprints in the U.S., but not your password (for 5th Amendment reasons, IIRC). To me, not having a fingerprint sensor is a feature, not a bug. Proudly typed with one hand on my perfectly sized Sony Xperia X Compact Edit: I just found my similar comment from 6 months ago. Some things for change, lol
  • You wouldn't even want the option? How it's a feature to not have the option? It's not like if it was there it would require you to use it, it'd be the same. And using a finger print scanner isn't going to increase the likelihood of your finger print being stolen. It's not like there's a special flag in you if you use a finger print scanner that will draw finger print thieves to you.