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Nexus 4 teardown reveals LTE chip, we pine for what could have been

As often happens with the biggest mobile releases, iFixit has procured a Nexus 4 and done the dirty work of tearing the whole thing apart. The biggest reveal wasn’t the device’s orderly construction or relative ease of repair, however. It was the  discovery of something no one was really expecting: an LTE chip.

Now before those of us hoping for an LTE-enabled Nexus 4 get too excited, the chip is completely useless. The phone’s hardware does not include an LTE radio, so the chip hangs around like a vestigial organ and we are left longing for what could have been.

The chip is likely a carryover from the LG Optimus G, the phone that the Nexus 4 is largely based off of. While one might ask why a company would include a component in the device that has no function and could simply add to costs, it probably stems from LG wanting to consolidate the manufacturing flow for both devices. Instead of putting together a unique  circuit board for each phone, the two can share the component.

An LTE chip could also suggest that perhaps a 4G version of the device could find its way to retail, but we’re not holding our breath just yet. Andy Rubin has been pretty explicit in explaining Google’s reasoning behind leaving LTE technology (aside from this newly discovered anomaly) out of the Nexus 4.

We wish enabling LTE on the device would be as easy as a few software commands, but with the hardware as it stands you’d need a soldering iron and a lot more technical know-how than your average bear. But we can keep the dream alive, right?

[via Gizmodo]

Continue reading on the Nexus 4 forums, see the specs, or find news and reviews.




  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alexander-Drizzy-Rojas/100000186636833 Alexander Drizzy Rojas

    People that should be complaining about lte are att people since tmo do sent have. Personally I’m good with tmos 42mbps its fast.

  • King Louie

    Such a damn shame

  • Socalnathan

    So if this shares just about everything with the Optimus G, would it be easy for developers to flash stock Android 4.2 to the Optimus?

  • Pnutt916

    When they make this phone Lte with 32gigs of storage, they will get my $. Until then I’ll wait for something better.

    • harold

      There is nothing better for pure android til the next nexus

      • Pnutt916

        Without LTE this phone is a step backwards. We shouldn’t have to give up hardware to get the latest software on a Nexus.

        • Manbo

          What does LTE offer you, really? There is no single LTE+HSPA SoC, therefore it is inefficient in regards to battery usage. Browsing the web and downloading apps is still fast on HSPA. Unless you are using a remote desktop application or VLC, the reduced ping times are not noticeable.
          The only logical point to LTE at the moment is tethered usage, but data buckets are so small it doesn’t really matter.

          Saying without LTE is a step backwards is just a bit of sensationalism on your part. Had you said offering 8GB of storage, I would tend to agree, but no LTE when it is just a smattering of coverage anywhere outside of North America, is a pretty self explanatory reason why an INTERNATIONAL device is devoid of LTE radios.

          When an economical SINGLE SoC is available with LTE embedded, then lets talk. Until then, suck it up princess.

          Hugs n kisses,
          Manbo

          • Pnutt916

            I don’t care about what an international device offers! LTE stands for Long Term (Evolution) and I would like my phones hardware to be as evolved as its software. Since that can’t happen because Android evolves at such a fast pace, then I would at least appreciate all previously available hardware upgrades to be included in a Nexus device. A Nexus phone is supposed to set the standard and with no LTE on board it missed its mark (and took a step backwards). With that said I live in the States and have LTE readily available so until they have an LTE version I’ll be looking else where to spend my $. And let’s not even get started on how disappointing the storage options are, with memory being so cheap these days.

          • bitflung

            i’m with you here, in general. but i’d also go so far as to say that LTE has only a smattering of coverage even in the USA and where there is LTE, HSPA+ generally performs on par and sometimes even better. For device longevity (more than 2 years) LTE may become an issue – but for this price staying on the top of the heap for only 2+ years seems like a perfectly reasonable situation to me. We should all just be glad it didn’t come with WiMax……!

          • http://www.phandroid.com Kevin Krause

            I just can’t agree with this. The Galaxy Nexus (LTE) is my main device but every time I have to test out a non-LTE device the load times on web content and downloads are just excruciatingly painful. Spoiled a bit by great 4G coverage in Baltimore? Probably. HSPA+ means little to me when I’m still clinging to a grandfathered-in unlimited Verizon plan (though my data usage doesn’t even warrant it, I could just as easily operate with the lowest tier of current data offerings and get by just fine).

            And in five years when LTE is prevalent they will just roll out some other standard. Unless they are actually serious when they call it LONG TERM Evolution…

          • bitflung

            being on Verizon means that you have the choice between pseudo-4G-LTE or

            2.5G-CDMA/EVDO. i know, i know, they CAL it 3G, but it’s not. it’s equivalent to EDGE on a GSM network. HSPA+ is just as ’4G’ as LTE is – and by that i mean that NEITHER OF THEM ARE ACTUALLY 4G, but they both implement a PART of the 4G spec and provide similar levels of service. In my area, T-Mobile’s HSPA+ is significantly faster and more available than LTE on any other carrier.

          • Jeff C

            Actually I saw some battery tests, and the 4G LTE didn’t effect battery that bad because it requires less time to transfer the data. Generally you hear horror stories about it due to something else because it is typically on newer phones that may have had some bugs or tasks running that were eating the battery. And new users get all excited and end up using their phone to browse/stream more because they have LTE. Not that LTE requires LESS power, but it also requires less transmitting time for a given filesize and there are other related factors as I’ve pointed out.

          • Manbo

            All our tests showed that leaving LTE enabled caused more usage throughout the day. Basing that on on a mix of phone and web usage of an average user.
            Be it higher consumption due to the multiple chips or due to poor network optimization, on the same devices, having LTE enabled caused a 10-15% decrease of battery usage time on average.
            Yes, you are correct that sync times are reduced due to the faster speed and lower ping times, but unless you have heavy data consumption or many frequent syncs with applications, the benefits are quickly over shadowed by the negatives.

        • jakep_82

          A lot of people are perfectly content with the 8-10Mbps download speeds on T-Mobile. I’m not willing to sign a contract and pay $80 a month just to get LTE. To each his own.

    • Jeff C

      Ditto

  • ArmageddonX

    This would have been my new phone but without LTE I won’t even consider it. So disappointing, =(

  • blest

    Blame big ref

  • blest

    Red*

  • dlovely

    i’m looking fwd to mine, 42Mbps is fine for me as well with tmo. blame licensing the LTE technology that would’ve added more cost to the device.

    • Pnutt916

      I would pay more for an LTE model.

  • harold

    For $350 with no contract vs $550 Or $200 with a 2yr contract.$350 is a no brainer

  • longshot1056

    Opinionated paragraph ahead skip to the for tl;dr.

    As someone on AT&T in the Philly area, I’m not too disappointed about the lack of LTE. The phone is cheap off-contract, has great specs, will work by me just going and getting a new SIM for it since my old one won’t work for it, and it has plenty of storage for me since I don’t use my mobile for gaming or music, I use my full perfect condition 32GB ZuneHD for music. Sure 2 devices versus 1, compromise. I don’t get why people make such a fuss over 1 or 2 things missing. I know I’m talking to the wrong crowd but it is called compromising, I will gladly give up expandable memory and LTE for a quad-core, vanilla Android, 720p (a little more but it is gorgeous) screen, 2GB of RAM, NFC, no carrier lock down, and timely updates. This whole I love everything about it but it is missing one spec so I won’t buy it, crap is part of the reason why I hate being part of the Android Community. I’ve been with android for years now, I don’t update nearly as often as most but one of the community none the less, and will never look back but the community has got to stop being so anal about every little last detail. Even if the “perfect” phone/device came out tomorrow and you bought it, in 6 months the next “perfect” phone/device will come out and you’ll rush to sell your old one and get the new one. Seriously just sit back, relax, and enjoy whats available and deal with the tiny details that you dislike. Mine is coming in the mail today, I will upgrade from my old HTC Aria which has served me well for the past 2 1/2 years and never look back.

    tl;dr : Life is about compromises. The pedigree of a spec list more than makes up for 2 missing features.

    • malcmilli

      that makes sense if its a small feature, but LTE is a pretty big deal for many users. Unless you are on tmobile, if you dont have LTE than your data is pretty much useless outside of checking your email. SD cards are important for media hounds as well when such a phone comes with such such little storage.

      It’s its not just users being picky, its that depending on their situation, these 2 omissions (sd card, LTE) actually cripple the device. Also, would really prefer NFC over LTE? I call BS. Or at least that is how most people feel.

      • selonmoi

        “Unless you are on tmobile…”

        Or any other carrier outside of the USA. The only major carriers in the world where 3G sucks are Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T. Sorry, Americans, that three of your four national carriers botched 3G: two were screwed by their technology choice and one just underbuilt its network.

        In the rest of the world, LTE is a nice-to-have at best, and simply not worth the battery penalty at worst. I’ll take NFC any day.

        • malcmilli

          well yeah, i was implying the US. That is something i tend to do. I don’t really care for the reason behind why 3g is slower in america, the process doesnt matter, only the end result. LG already has an LTE optimus that’s almost exactly the same internally as the nexus AND their previous nexus was LTE device. So that’s why people who like LTE or rely on it are annoyed. Tmobile’s 4g is just fine, and im glad they can use the device as well as the rest of the world. Would just be nice if they had 2 versions, LTE version and Hspa version. Even if the LTE version cost more.

          I see it quite the opposite. LTE is a must for 3/4 US carriers (that’s only what 100 million users or something like that?), and when exactly do you use NFC. Most people dont even know what it is, nor would they use it every day. They do know however, what faster internet is. I have never used it, nor do i care if my next phone even has it. Sure it’s nice to have. but yeah that’s it. The battery drain on LTE is exaggerated on current generation phones. It might not be as battery friendly as hspa+ but people have been managing to get 18-24 hours while running on LTE on the ATT One X. It’s also just not great to lack something that the iphone has. And since the last gen iphone has been criticized for not having LTE why wouldnt the nexus be criticized for not having it as well?

          • jakep_82

            The only way Google could sell an LTE version of the phone is if they offered it carrier locked. They tried this on the Galaxy Nexus and they took a lot of grief for software delays that were caused by Verizon. It’s not hard to understand why they decided to drop LTE this time around.

          • malcmilli

            sigh, you people don’t seem to understand. No one is saying they don’t understand why Google is hesitant to deal with Verizon. No one is saying a GSM nexus didnt need to be made. People are just saying “no LTE, no dice,” they will be getting something else. To some people LTE is very important. Why is THAT hard to understand? The Galaxy Nexus wasn’t the first and only CDMA nexus, so its not hard to understand users were still hopeful for there would be a CDMA variant.

          • jakep_82

            It’s hard to understand because LTE shouldn’t be important to people when you’re talking about a $300 unlocked phone. If they were charging $650 like most carrier locked phones then you can complain. Otherwise go sign a 2 year contract with Verizon and keep paying $90 a month plus tax for some other phone. I’ll stick to the $30 T-mobile plan and continue streaming HD video with my measly 8Mbps.

          • malcmilli

            That’s the thing, people aren’t asking for a 300 dollar LTE phone. I have seen numerous comments, and feel myself that “I would pay more for an LTE variant. ” I don’t understand why many people here are trying to over analyze these statements. I personally use Sprint so either way I’ll be under contract.

            People are simply saying “I wish it had LTE n I personally won’t buy another non LTE phone” why is that getting backlash.

          • jakep_82

            Read the response from Google about why the Nexus 4 doesn’t have LTE if you don’t understand the backlash. Carriers are the problem and I think Google made the right choice.

          • malcmilli

            oh my god lol i read the response from google. that has NOTHING to do with people venting. That also has nothing to do with people stating they simply wont buy another non LTE device. I’m not angry with Google, its annoying but whatever it is what it is. There are plenty of good LTE devices out there. I was just saying LTE is important to a lot of people so they arent being “childish” for not buying the nexus because it doesnt have LTE.

            Its fine if they dont want to do CDMA, i find it annoying, n i would prefer 2 month delay in updates than 6 month delay, but whatever that’s out of my hands. I simply just dont understand why people are bashing people for wanting LTE. That was the entire point of every post. People want nexus and they may or may not need LTE. Since Nexus doesnt have LTE, then they said fine they will take their money else where.

          • Pnutt916

            I agree with your whole post. I knew there were still smart Android users out there! :-) No LTE is inexcusable. I’ve been talking crap to iPhone users for the past 2 years that they have no 4g and now our so called flagship has no LTE, that’s just dumb.

          • jakep_82

            Yet somehow they sold out in a couple minutes. LTE might be inexcusable to you, but it’s worthless to hundreds of millions of people around the world.

          • Pnutt916

            So……. They did the same with the iPhone 4S. And last I checked the 5 was (upgraded) to LTE.
            Sent from my EVO 4G LTE

            —– Reply message —–

        • Manbo

          THANK YOU! Someone who actually knows how to fire up their grey matter!

          “In the rest of the world, LTE is a nice-to-have at best, and simply not worth the battery penalty at worst”

          In all seriousness, you’ve restored a bit of my faith in humanity! :D

      • RavenFox

        I stream vids just fine on At&t with my galaxy nexus but I do understand the speed you get from LTE. Bought my Mom a Galaxy 3 and my job provides me with an IPad 3 with LTE. The poster above you does make some valid points imo. Also, I do respect your choice.

      • BLADESMAN1889

        WTF ? No LTE = email checking only ? dude either you’ve had 2nd hand broken phones or you lived near a faulty transmitter –

        Or maybe your Carrier saw you coming & deliberately throttled your data speed to back you into a corner so you’d get their LTE package :–)

        • malcmilli

          I was exaggerating for other carriers (wish i was exaggerating for Sprint though). Its not that No LTE means slow speeds, its that No LTE + No Hspa42 + no Wimax, means you generally have to wait for things to load. LTE or no LTE my contract price is exactly the same. But yeah hey maybe they are throttling me and the majority of people i know on the network.

  • BLADESMAN1889

    ATM for me LTE is not high on my list as it is only running on 1 network for now here in the UK. Maybe this time next year when prices have dropped as its just not worth it £56 inc 8gig cap !

    My current phone is HSDPA but my Network is coming to the end of upgrading to HSPA+ so I WILL notice a speed increase when I get the N4 anyway. (that’s if there will be any stock left/available)

  • phinn

    Ugh, LTE, where art thou. All of your competitors have it, and have better battery life too.

  • https://plus.google.com/102862831744598656090/about Wesley

    What do you mean “what could have been”? Honestly, what could have been is a Nexus 4 with AT&T LTE, and that’s it. It still wouldn’t have worked on Sprint or Verizon even with LTE so what’s the big deal if the Nexus 4 didn’t come with LTE this time around? If AT&T and T-Mobile have expanding LTE networks by the release of the next Nexus, then we may see LTE in it.

  • Jeff C

    Why even post this article if there’s no chance the phone’s LTE can be turned on?

    Creating phones with only 8GB or 16GB memory that are capable of taking 8MP photos and 1080P video is really trying to reach a larger audience to get them hooked on a cutting-edge smart phone experience by lowering the price. Problem is if you have even a moderate size music collection, add some apps, take some HD video, and you quickly run out of space. So Google is expecting I assume for you to stream your photos and music. But then all those people that could afford the phone now, are getting soaked with data fees from the carrier.

  • gorkon

    Actually depending on the circuit it COULD be just a matter of a few commands. Most modern smartphones liberally use software defined radios. So if there’s an LTE chip then it’s distinctly possible for it to be flashed and updated so it can run LTE.