Sony Can't Do Fingerprint Readers In The US, Deal With It
When Sony added a fingerprint reader to the side of its premium Xperia range a couple of years ago the feature was conspicuously missing from devices bound for the US. Every Sony Xperia launched since has the same limitation.
On more than one occasion Sony has hinted that there are legal issues behind the absence of this feature and this week at MWC under probing from Android Central slipped slightly more information, suggesting the absence is related to contractual issues with one of the US carriers. Most likely Verizon.
This hasn't stopped the almost constant barrage of comments and complaints about the missing fingerprint scanner, many along the lines of "I won't buy another Sony phone until they fix this".
If it isn't plain enough already: this is out of Sony's control. Until such time as the contract framing this absence has expired there will be no active fingerprint sensors on Sony devices sold in the US.
Active? Why yes, because the fingerprint sensor is there just absent the software to enable it.
So American smartphone friends you have three options: buy a US Xperia and flash a non-US ROM to enable the sensor or import an Xperia from outside of the US. The first option demands you carefully follow the (widely available) instructions for updating you ROM, whilst the second demands that you research the LTE bands match those you require in the US. Neither is particlarly onerous, even if it is more effort than just walking into a carrier store and picking one up.
I mentioned a third option, well that's seems to be by far the most popular one unfortunately, which is to go out and buy something else. It's a shame, because it's clear that Sony has piqued customer interest with its recent devices. Until such time as Sony is free of legal encumbrances though, neither Sony nor American smartphone buyers will be free to fully benefit from the devices being produced.