US consumers were rightly miffed when Sony launched its latest batch of flagship smartphones in the country sans a fingerprint scanner. Further eyebrows were raised when it transpired that the fingerprint scanning hardware is actually still physically included inside the US versions of the Xperia XZ and X Compact, but that the feature has been disabled in software.
Fortunately, there seems to be a relatively easy fix to reactivate the fingerprint scanner – install firmware from Europe. A plucky XDA user decided to bite the bullet and see what happens when installing Sony’s official UK firmware on the US handset, and it seems that the sensor works perfectly.
Baring a few local differences, such as displaying a 4G icon instead of LTE, there doesn’t appear to be any major trade-offs. North American cellular bands remain supported, so this is a better alternative than importing an international model, and updates install just fine. Not bad for a “2 minute” fix, although there are obviously no guarantees that problems might not crop up after a future update.
If you’re interested in having a go, you’ll need to grab a copy of flashtool and use the built-in Xperifirm tool to grab the UK firmware. Step by step instructions can be found here, and you can read more information about flashtool here. But be warned, installing new software onto your phone is done completely at your own risk.
Sony hasn’t stated why fingerprint scanning capabilities have been excluded from its latest US flagships, but the suspicion is that a patent issue is to blame. At least now determined Sony fans in the US can enjoy the full Xperia XZ and X Compact experience, if they’re willing to put in a little work.