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Nexus 6 fingerprint scanner plans thwarted by Apple

Former Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside has revealed in an interview with The Telegraph that the Nexus 6 almost included a fingerprint sensor, but the plans were thwarted, indirectly, by Apple. Woodside said the “dimple” on the Nexus 6’s rear panel was originally going to house a fingerprint sensor, but Motorola’s supplier wasn’t able to deliver a suitable component in time.

“The secret behind that is it was supposed to be fingerprint recognition,” said Woodside about the Nexus 6’s Motorola logo, “and Apple bought the best supplier. So the second best supplier was the only one available to everyone else in the industry and they weren’t there yet.” Although the feature obviously never made it onto the phone, Woodside then concedes its inclusion “wouldn’t have made that big a difference.”

Related: Common problems with the Nexus 6, and how to fix them

Woodside left Motorola for Dropbox after the company was acquired by Lenovo, and says he now enjoys the freedom from the “uncontrollable market forces” which made the Nexus 6’s fingerprint sensor impossible.

A fingerprint sensor was repeatedly mentioned in rumors leading up to the Nexus 6’s launch, when the device was referred to under the Shamu codename. Although there’s no mention of it in this new interview, the fingerprint sensor issues may have been responsible for the slight delay in the phone’s initial launch, and its wide international release; particularly if plans were changed at the last minute.

Google was clearly intent on Motorola fitting a fingerprint sensor to the Nexus 6, despite Woodside’s hint it wouldn’t have been a major feature, which does suggest we’ll see a Nexus phone with one in the future. The fingerprint sensor in the iPhone and the iPad is a key component in the Apple Pay system.