Why Nexus 6 Ditched Fingerprint Sensor?

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Why Nexus 6 Ditched Fingerprint Sensor?
Photo by Domenic K.

The recess in the back panel that houses Motorola logo was originally meant for the fingerprint sensor

Months before Nexus 6 was unveiled last year, there were intense rumors that Google’s Motorola-made device would sport a fingerprint scanner. Turns out, Motorola did intend to add a fingerprint sensor in the Nexus 6. But Apple ruined the company’s plan, reveals former Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside. In an interview with Matt Warman of The Telegraph, Woodside said that Motorola had to scrap the plan after Apple acquired its would-be supplier AuthenTec.

Apple bought the best supplier

The recess in the back panel of Nexus 6 was originally meant for the fingerprint sensor, but it now houses Motorola’s logo. Woodside said Apple bought the “best supplier,” and the second-best supplier “weren’t there yet.” Apple acquired AuthenTec for $356 million in July 2012. Other major sensor suppliers such as Validity required users to swipe their fingers across the sensor. Samsung used the swipe-style fingerprint scanner in the Galaxy S5, but many users found it cumbersome.

In December 2014, Ars Technica learned that the internal prototypes of Nexus 6 included a fingerprint sensor. Motorola was planning to buy or license the sensor, but the company nixed the plan after Apple’s purchase. Ars Technica’s investigation revealed that the feature was removed from the Nexus 6 prototypes late in the development cycle. Meanwhile, Apple’s iPhone 5S was the first smartphone with a fingerprint scanner. Its TouchID style scanner garnered rave reviews.

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It wouldn’t have made a big different for Nexus 6

However, Woodside believes that a fingerprint scanner “wouldn’t have made that big a difference” for the device. Woodside became the CEO of Motorola when Google acquired it. But he left Motorola to when the search engine giant sold it to Lenovo last year. He currently serves as the chief operating officer at the cloud-storage company Dropbox.

Nexus 6 sports a 5.96-inch Quad HD display, 3GB RAM, 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor with Adreno 420 graphics processor, a 3220mAh battery, and Android Lollipop. The phablet is facing stiff competition from Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4.

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