It was recently discovered by our friends over at iFixit that the newly released Nexus 4, which does not come in a LTE variant, actually contains a Qualcomm WTR1605L Seven-Band 4G LTE chip. Many of us were very disappointed to find out that the “latest and greatest” phone from Google did not have an option for 4G LTE. Although this essentially only applies to Verizon customers (and an increasing number of AT&T markets) for the moment, those of us who suffer under the heel of big red do enjoy fantastically fast connection speeds in much of the country.
Like many of you, I thought this announcement was very exciting indeed. If the hardware is there, surely its only a matter of time before someone over at AOKP or Cyanogenmod figures out how to turn it on, right? Well, it’s not quite that simple. Having a 7-band 4G LTE chip embedded in the phone doesn’t necessarily mean that the device has all the hardware it would need in order to actually connect to a 4G network. First of all, iFixit didn’t find a LTE power amplifier anywhere on the device. The power amplifier is what actually transforms electricity into radio waves, and without it our dream of an LTE Nexus 4 won’t get off the ground. There is also the problem that there doesn’t seem to be a radio capable of receiving or sending a LTE signal.
This isn’t the first time a dead LTE chip has been found in a device, and it likely won’t be the last. The Nexus 4 is based on the LG Optimus G, which does come in a LTE variant. Google and LG put a lot of work into keeping the Nexus 4 as cheap as possible, in order to sell to customers who aren’t eligible for subsidized phones (a trick that only Apple has been able to successfully execute thus far). Since the Nexus 4 shares so many components with the Optimus G, its likely that LG saved money by using components that it was already in the process of mass producing. It’s possible that this made a significant difference in the cost of producing the Nexus 4, so it makes sense that there might be some extraneous hardware floating around inside the device.
Many of us are unwilling to go back a generation in terms of connection speed. So sadly, HSPA+ speeds are probably all that Nexus 4G owners will experience. But its hard not to imagine how great a quad-core LTE Nexus phone would have been. Maybe next year…