Here’s why Sony’s US Xperia phones don’t have fingerprint sensors

The new Sony Xperia X and all of its many spin-offs, including the recently announced Sony Xperia XZ and Sony Xperia X Compact, are missing something in the US.

We can’t quite put our finger on it… because it isn’t there. The fingerprint sensor.

During a recent conference call with Don Mesa of Sony Mobile, he stated that a “business decision” influenced the removal of the embedded fingerprint sensor in the US versions of Sony’s recent lineup of phones. That’s the same line that the company was tossing around earlier this year.

Business is a tricky thing, and the complexity of releasing devices across the globe isn’t something we’ll pretend to understand fully. But, of all of the features, why is the fingerprint sensor the one feature in particular to get the axe? It’s something that really adds to the experience and security of a phone.

Breaking into the US

Sony’s smartphone problem in the US is a tricky one. It’s already a household name, but so few phones are ever seen in the wild and there’s a lot of competition, especially in the unlocked sector, with phones like the OnePlus 3, Nextbit Robin, or Nexus 6P all available for under $500.

Mesa told TechRadar that the specific reason you won’t find any biometrics in a Sony phone this year is that “it was essentially a business decision we needed to make as we transitioned from the carrier market to the unlocked market.

Sony Xperia XZ

“In the quick transition, there were a lot of factors that surprised us in terms of areas we needed to check off to enter the unlocked market.”

“For us, we needed to leave it out.”

Maybe it’s just us, but that doesn’t really answer the question.

Is Sony the only perpetrator?

Sony isn’t the only manufacturer switching up the spec list as its devices cross the oceans. For the past few generations of its Galaxy S-series of smartphones, Samsung has been treating the global variants to its own more powerful Exynos chipset, while HTC often offers more powerful versions of its new phones to please the spec-hungry Asian markets.

The Samsung and HTC examples represent a slightly more niche spec adjustment than the blatant omission of the fingerprint sensor Sony keeps bringing out. But whatever the motivation is for these business decisions, people do care and people do notice.

At the end of the day, the consumer is going to buy the phone that offers the best value for money. In many ways, Sony’s smartphones have, and continue to, represent a good value, but the lack of a fingerprint sensor could hinder its progress in planting its flag down in the US mobile market.


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  1. Reply Emmie Lindgren September 17, 2016 at 1:01 am

    This article doesn't even come close to answering the question.

  2. Reply Prof. Destin Predovic September 17, 2016 at 1:15 am

    Sony phones have NEVER offered a good value – they have always been overpriced. If Sony expects to sell phones in the US, they better include a fingerprint sensor, NFC, and QHD display.

  3. Reply Lourdes McKenzie II September 17, 2016 at 2:31 am

    Never good value? Rubbish. So the Z series weren't good value, especially the Compact versions? Firstly, you can still activate the fingerprint sensor in the US version, but it takes a bit of tinkering and potentially void your warranty. While the X series are so far very flawed, the biggest improvement is their displays. Improved blacks compared to older models, whites too, the colour accuracy beats out any AMOLED device, and they're vibrant for LCD displays. The iPhone 7 Plus is 'only' 1080p, yet nobody is really harping on about that. And the XZ's a 5.2in device, 1080p and QHD look almost the same anyways, and QHD will affect performance anyways.

  4. Reply Roslyn Quitzon II September 17, 2016 at 2:37 am

    This is how bad Sony doesn't want Americans to have a fingerprint scanner on our phones. I tried ordering a an X performance on two of their European websites sites to get the international model and could not do it. When I tried to order on Sony's French site I made it all the way to the shipping address and got redirected to the US site (likely to get one of their US models without the fingerprint scanner) when I put in my American address. I tried the UK and Australian sites and they both have drop down menues that only let you select from cities/regions native to those countries to ship to. Go figure, it's like Sony is alergic to American dollars. And the most iritating thing is Sony won't even give us a discount on their overpriced handicapped phones sold here in the US in stores like Best Buy and Target.

  5. Reply Francis Schumm September 17, 2016 at 6:16 am

    Maybe try Amazon. Sony has no control over that site, especially resellers.

  6. Reply Camylle O'Keefe I September 17, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    A better "business decision" would be getting CARRIER SUPPORT. The weird thing is that the hardware for the fingerprint sensor is actually in the US version, according to some reports, which go on to say that the fingerprint sensor has been disabled by software. If true, then an economic explanation seems less likely, because if Sony were trying to cut corners, then why not just leave the fingerprint sensor hardware out?

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