Oh... so that's why Sony disables its fingerprint scanners in the USA

Oh... so that's why Sony disables its fingerprint scanners in the USA
Sony has had fingerprint scanners embedded into the power buttons of its smartphones since the Xperia Z5 family, released a year and a half ago. And since then, it has released its phones in the US with the fingerprint scanners disabled — even the new XZs and XZ Premium fall under that rule. A baffling decision, which angered even the Sony-faithful. However, despite the users' disgruntlement being loud and clear, the company just wouldn't back down on its decision. Why?

Seeing that everyone in this market is vying for the attention of every single customer, we did believe that Sony isn't ignorant of customer wishes and current trends in smartphones. No, something behind the curtains is amiss, and there are legal reasons for Sony not revealing its true motives.

Sony Mobile US' head of marketing for North America, Don Mesa, spoke with Android Central on the issue, and finally shed some light on it. Basically, at some point in recent years, Sony Mobile did a deal with an undisclosed US carrier, and apparently, the contract had a weird clause or two in it. Now, it is unknown whether this deal is still ongoing or if it was terminated, but in any case, Sony is currently legally barred from selling smartphones with functioning fingerprint scanners in the USA.

Naturally, the company had a choice — either disable the biometric sensor, or don't sell your flagships in the US at all. It picked the lesser evil.

However, since one isn't exactly allowed to discuss and disclose details about such major deals, Sony obviously can't come out and say “Sorry guys, X made us do it”, and its image suffers. How long will this limitation last? As of right now, we have no idea.

There you have it. Are you mad at Sony a little less now, or are you too busy thinking “Who would sign such a contract?!”?

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27 Comments

1. Bankz

Posts: 2531; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Who would be so dumb to sign such a contract in the first place? sounds like what a company like htc would have done tbh..

2. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Who would do something like that? Someone still doing unhealthy competition practices.

10. sgodsell

Posts: 7198; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

You can still enable the fingerprint reader later. All you have to do update the ROM.

11. sgodsell

Posts: 7198; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

There is nothing stopping someone from updating the software later to enable the scanner to work. The fingerprint reader is fully functional. It's just disabled through the software.

12. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

My Guess... AT&T back when Apple had some serious locks in them. Anti competitive behavior at it's worst.

22. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

My guess is AT&T as well.

25. bossman

Posts: 264; Member since: Jan 27, 2016

It was probably T-Mobile because it was only carrier who sold the Sony phones.

9. hansip87

Posts: 226; Member since: Nov 10, 2015

Sometimes you have estimates that worth the risk, sometimes the risk is what happens. It's a gamble for money.. always.

13. libra89

Posts: 2271; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

When you're trying to get into a market, you do what you can to get in.

24. Highside

Posts: 197; Member since: Jan 31, 2017

Another example of wireless companies screwing the consumer.

27. yorcharturo

Posts: 10; Member since: May 23, 2013

you obviously never deal with big retailers, they know you need them and they will make you suffer for that, that is why there are laws against monopolies so the big companies have competition that keeps them as much as possible inside fair policies.

3. Atrixboyyy

Posts: 595; Member since: Nov 03, 2011

They were only really selling devices on T-Mobile so I wonder...

4. mixedfish

Posts: 1551; Member since: Nov 17, 2013

I would guess it was T-Mobile. Because they tried to release the Z4V with Verizon that was supposed to have a finger print sensor, but just cancelled it.

5. Amir123a

Posts: 125; Member since: Aug 27, 2016

Bet some people got fired for this unbelievable stupid deal making.

6. tyger11

Posts: 290; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

Fingerprint "security" is the worst idea in the history of security. Non-revocable credentials are the opposite of secure. If you lose your phone, your fingerprints are ON it, and are easily lifted and duplicated. Then they have access to your phone, your email, and 2FA authentication method (whether email, SMS, or something like Google Authenticator). Don't be dumb - just say NO to using fingerprint scanners, people.

8. juandante

Posts: 679; Member since: Apr 23, 2013

indeed, there was a repport claiming that once your finger print is copied, you don't just change it you loose is all your life. again a stupid idea from Apple, they didn't invent it but they truly brought this stupid trend.

14. rinzimpulse

Posts: 12; Member since: Jan 16, 2017

well, my device do have it & i'm too lazy to use/setup it, so i don't use it at all :3

19. sissy246

Posts: 7070; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

And you think the average person on the street that finds your phone knows how to lift finger prints and make copies so they can get in your phone.

20. Leo_MC

Posts: 7203; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I'm giving you my iPhone 7 and 10.000 euro if you can get the fingerprint out. If you don't succeed, you pay me 20.000 euro. It's a deal or you're just talking bulls**t?

7. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

The hardware is there, so just flash a global ftf file and it works again.

15. zenun12

Posts: 205; Member since: Oct 31, 2016

I guess Sony can always go to iris scanning...My inference is that the benefits of the deal outweighed the cons of it.

16. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1318; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

Let me guess, it was most likely Verizon that thought of this. Why must US carriers insist on meddling with phone specs?

17. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

I already can sense some lawsuits are coming against that undisclosed carrier...

18. tokuzumi

Posts: 1865; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

That's a weird contract. Not sure I buy that 100%, but looks like Sony got screwed on that deal.

21. hansip87

Posts: 226; Member since: Nov 10, 2015

After i read from gsmarena, Sony offers fingerprint as an exclusive feature for that carrier.. but alas, none came up and Sony is still bound with such contract. can't imagine it will be there for more than 5 years tops.

23. dmitrilp_

Posts: 330; Member since: Sep 12, 2016

I don't buy Sony phones, so i don't care. Only products i get from Sony are home entertainment products.

26. mail2me98

Posts: 18; Member since: Feb 24, 2013

time to find out the carrier and boycott it...lol (joking)

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