Sony Xperia X Compact Hands On-2

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.

Robert Triggs
Lead Technical Writer at Android Authority, covering the latest trends in consumer electronics and hardware. In his spare moments, you'll probably find him tinkering with audio electronics and programming.
  • I was not expecting that. It is quite a miracle that that Sony handset still worked. Kudos to Sony for having only software differences that actual hardware and/or partitioning differences (baseband/modem too).

  • lu99ke

    yeah .. its easy to install stock sony roms via flashtool… and they dont void warranty…i have been using EU roms on my AU Z3 to get earlier softwsre updates … works perfectly ( you will likley have to do a fresh install so back your data up ) … if you have one in the US go forth and flash.. just use the right model number…

    • joseph carmine nero

      Exactly.I never wait for official roll outs as long as FTF comes out

  • Comediante

    Why that?
    Can you imagine if Ford announces and launches a mustang version with no turbo and then every owner opens up the hood and find out that there’s a unplugged turbo there?

    • le_lutin

      I guess a patent issue seems the most likely explanation.

    • Frank Bank

      yeah but it’s a Ford and they expect nothing more than a grand old screw up

  • noh1bvisas

    at the very least, sony should man-up and say why the fingerprint scanner isn’t activated in the US.

    • Eklavya Verma

      If it really is a patent issue, I don’t think Sony would want that kind of publicity. It’s not like people in the US are clamouring to buy a Sony phone anyway.

  • Wolf0491

    “so this is a better alternative than importing an international model”
    Unless you want to save almost $100 but to each his own

  • yomama1983

    I order mine from the UK and got a free wireless Headphones worth $150, all came up to $620 US dollars.

  • Doing all this just to get a fingerprint scanner working. Lol.

    • Ryan

      People go ape$+it about having a fingerprint reader, nuf said.

    • Richard Krajewski

      Well the added functionality for signing on to Bank and other apps with a fingerprint instead of a password is well worth it. I would not buy a phone these days that does not have fingerprint security for this very reason.