Motorola Nexus 6 fingerprint reader plans nixed over Apple’s acquisition of AuthenTec

By April Taylor , Jan 27, 2015 09:38 AM EST

The Nexus 6 has a dimple on its back, containing the Motorola logo, but that was actually supposed to be a fingerprint sensor.

As it turns out, Motorola planned to launch its flagship Nexus 6 smartphone with a Touch ID-like fingerprint reader, but Apple killed the buzz by acquiring AuthenTec. Motorola wanted AuthenTec as the supplier for the fingerprint sensor, but had to forego such plans once Apple gobbled up the company.

This interesting tidbit of information just surfaced now, as former Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside revealed why the Nexus 6 has a dimple containing the logo on its back.

"The secret behind that is that it was supposed to be fingerprint recognition, and Apple bought the best supplier, Woodside told The Telegraph. "So the second best supplier was the only one available to everyone else in the industry and they weren't there yet."

As a reminder, Apple acquired AuthenTec back in 2012 in a deal worth $356 million. The general belief is that Apple purchased the company mainly for the intellectual property around AuthenTec's Smart Sensor components. If other companies such as Motorola nixed plans to pack fingerprint sensors into their flagships because of this acquisition, it could only be seen as a bonus for Apple.

The rumor mill buzzed incessantly ahead of the official Nexus 6 launch, and one of the main features expected from the next Google flagship smartphone was a fingerprint reader. The sensor was rumored to have a swipe-style functionality just like the Samsung Galaxy S5.

Needless to mention, the Motorola-made Nexus 6 ultimately launched without a fingerprint sensor, but at least now it's clear why. Nevertheless, Woodside said the fingerprint reader "wouldn't have made that big of a difference."

Fingerprint sensors have become a new must-have for high-end flagships ever since Apple launched its iPhone 5S with Touch ID, and more companies have joined the party since then. Swipe-style fingerprint readers, however, were not seen as the best solution. With the Galaxy S5, for instance, users have complained that the fingerprint sensor was not very effective or accurate.

Recent rumors have suggested that Samsung was planning to equip its upcoming Galaxy S6 with a Touch ID-like fingerprint reader that would be better than the one found on the Galaxy S5.

It remains unclear whether Motorola has other plans to equip future devices with a fingerprint reader.

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