Nexus 4

Google has edited the online help manual for the Nexus 4, removing references to USB support for mice and keyboards. Previously mentioning USB and that you might need an adapter to connect these peripherals, now it simply states

You can connect a keyboard, mouse, or even a joystick or other input device to your phone via Bluetooth and use it just as you would with a PC. USB is not supported for connecting such devices

Taken at face value this isn't that big of a deal, but any effect it may have on USB OTG (On The Go) could get a bit more worrisome. Many were counting on support for USB flash drives to supplement the 8 or 16GB of internal storage, and if the Nexus 4 can't properly power USB OTG devices that can't happen.

We're not going to say USB OTG support for the Nexus 4 is dead just yet. It's a complicated affair, needing the correct hardware and software to properly function. If this is just a software issue and is a temporary "adjustment" there is no worries, but if the hardware can't properly support USB gadgets or provide the right voltage, we're likely to be out of luck. We've reached out to Google, and hopefully someone gets back to us Monday. We'll let you know whatever we find out.

Source: Nexus 4 online help

 
There are 42 comments

BlackEco says:

Technicaly, the Nexus 4 hardware is almost the same as the Optimus G.
Optimus G supports OTG, so there is a lot of chances that the Nexus 4 has the hardware capabilities to do OTG :)

DSaif says:

Maybe little changed to keep the price down

icebike says:

Maybe they dropped host mode from the OS.

I think the same way, but need to know more from Google. Since it's the weekend we'll probably have to wait until Monday to get an answer.

dhomas says:

Though the hardware is very similar to the Optimus G, it is not quite identical. The Optimus G uses MHL to output video via HDMI, whereas the Nexus 4 uses Slimport (DisplayPort). Both MHL and Slimport use the micro-USB port as an outlet. This seems to indicate that the hardware on the the Optimus G and the Nexus 4 are indeed different (unless MHL and Slimport use the same hardware but interact differently in the software?).

In any case, I'm pretty disappointed that OTG is not supported as I was looking forward to having this functionality so I could try out the remote DSLR controller. When I ordered my Nexus 4, the OTG functionality was still part of the spec sheet, too...

johnny99 says:

If this is a software issue, try StickMount (free Android app). I had to use that to get USB flash drives and memory card readers to work with my Nexus 7 and Galaxy Nexus.

someguy01234 says:

Its not going to work unless the kernel support OTG as well.

crxssi says:

And also requires rooting on top of that. How friendly.

Krishaun27 says:

The Nexus 4 is a piece of junk, you get what you pay for....

someguy01234 says:

Thanks for the remarkable insight.

. . . all this coming from a /Troll who doesn't even own one much less have even used one.

moosc says:

Have u noticed the amount of Nexus4 on ebay and swappa it is sky rocketing. Also get a bt hard drive there amazing

Thanks. I just checked it out. The funniest thing I saw (or the saddest depending on how you look at it) is the Nexus 4 bumper located in Canada. It currently has 38 bids on it and is up to $98.87!!!! SMH

Joon8483 says:

Im amazed by the fact that you actually read the online manuals. I call that dedication

piizzadude says:

Tell me again how the barebones N4 is better than the full featured S3?

Yeah, your argument is becoming more and more invalid....

return_0 says:

Show me your logic. I wouldn't call an ugly, cartoonish skin "full featured" compared to stock Android.

It's not made by Samsung, and runs Android?

That's all the answer I need. When the next critical security bug comes around, and you don't get patched, you'll understand.

50 Million SGS2's still waiting to use the Internet safely. Been 7 months now, and it's a one line fix in the code. Even HTC has patched it.

#neveragain again.

return_0 says:

+9001 I used to be a Samsung fan (like I was an Apple fan before then, shudder) but I've moved on. Don't get me wrong, I still like Samsung products, but Nexus is now the phone/tablet line to beat.

Once again, you've come to save the day, Jerry.

piizzadude says:

That cartoonish skin your talking about...I ha..oh wait I do remember it. Only saw it for the ten seconds it took to put a launcher on there.

Though it is a flavor of android, I am pretty sure that it is still android that the SGS3 is using for the OS. Did they switch to WebOS when I wasnt looking?

Not gonna argue with you on the patches, I know it is pitiful and shameful. I am also not gonna argue with you about updates.

Pound for pound I can do more and get more out of my SGS3 than the S4.

Show me something that I can't and I will show you something you cannot do with the N4 and we will see will run out of things first...

Gator352 says:

Jerry,

Getting malicious code on your phone specifically from the internet is like hitting the lotto powerball twice in a row. The ones that do though, download crap form the play store without reading first or they side load apps from torrents which is by the way....stupid at best. Use your phone responsibly like you would any PC and your good to go.

But the way Google is trending us to use cloud services by removing SD card slots and giving us abysmal internal memory configurations is assinine. Now they remove external USB options?? I know BT will can and will do the same thing in most situations but by removing the option to close the system further is insane.

I am in no way defending Samsung and I know I don't have to buy the Nexus line of products, but by stripping features that made android compelling will sooner or later have a trickle-down effect to other manufacturers, further closing androids open source code making android no better than the guarded wall antics of Winmo and iOS.

Samsung refuses to apply a critical security patch to most of their phones, only addressing their two newest models. Spin that however you like, but until they change the way they do business I'll recommend every Android user stay away from Samsung products. There is nothing to download, the bug is in their own code.

Nexus products aren't for you? No problem. Just don't buy a Samsung product if you care about security.

Gator352 says:

See, I thought this security patch was taken care of via "4.1.1" update for the S3. If not, maybe in 4.1.2? Or is the S3 covered already.

But I agree, critical patches should be top priority for any...ANY manufacturer that has placed phones on the market. Including Samsung.

Jerry, I like the nexus line. I actually like the N4...but I'm on Sprint so you know the deal. But internal memory is critical for me. I like things local and not in the cloud as much as possible as I live in Florida. Hurricane Sandy proved that losing cell service and NOT being able to access critical information from the cloud at times on cell phones would and could be disasterous. So my initial claims of Google restricting the amount of memory a phone has and slowly diminishing thier capabilities stands.

crxssi says:

The answer I need is more *choice*. A decent Nexus for the carrier of my choice. And a choice in the amount of local storage, because in that regard, the Nexus 4 is woefully inadequate.

Taz89 says:

ugly is a matter of opinion, also feature vs feature the s3 does more than the n4...sure some may be seen as gimmicks but hey its still something the n4 cant do ie direct call,smart stay,better camera,better video file support like mkv,divx hd etc i could go on and on...but hey this is android its all about choices right if someone wants stock they can,if someone wants sense they can etc but whether you like it or not skinned version of android come with more features out of the box

Darth Duane says:

I don't think my Droid DNA officially supports USB OTG either but i have used several flash drives, a keyboard, and a mouse just fine. They probably just don't want to have to support the millions of different hardware variations out there so they don't officially support it.

Shadowriver says:

What are you talking about? Those are standard USB devices and if they follow standard Android thru Linux should support it out of the bat, if they don't work it's device manufacture problem to not follow standard not host device (some do that to deliver more features then standard allows).

crxssi says:

None of the current Nexus devices support mounting USB storage devices out of the box.
None of the current Nexus devices support being mounted with USB mass storage mode ever.

Shadowriver says:

Did you read what i was responding too?

"They probably just don't want to have to support the millions of different hardware variations out there so they don't officially support it."

thezymo says:

It looks to be a hardware failure and not software one. Take a look at the this failure-report from a google engineer :

"mako: remove usb.host feature

Bug 7297692

Mako cannot supply 5V."

https://android.googlesource.com/device/lge/mako/+show/f608db225c5ead1c2...

It looks like LG has constructed the N4 wrong, so that peripheries such as mice, keyboard and usb sticks aren't powered.

piizzadude says:

I figured that it had to be a hardware thing...that sucks

DforDesign says:

DAMN! If I knew it I would think twice before getting it:/ HUGE step backwards for me:/

Maybe it can be rised to 5V somehow... come on. Gimme some hope...

thezymo says:

I doubt that average Joe is able to do the soldering which is needed to power the usb port. Beside that usb host mode has to be added to the kernel. Maybe future production units of the Nexus 4 will support OTG. But that as a N4 owner would really pi** me off! Those of you who want to keep their N4 and are looking for alternatives to expand their storage I recommend wifi drives or the cloudftp (now known as "iusbport") which turns any usb drive into a wifi drive. This is not the cheapest solution but the best if you want to keep your N4 and expand storage (except you have an unlimited data plan and don't live in "no serve areas")

someguy01234 says:

If this is the case then one can still do it the traditional way, which is to use a Y cable to power the connected peripheral externally, something like this: http://i3.minus.com/jbyyJmiubNol6B.jpg Although it won't be portable and pretty cumbersome.

As for soldering an extra wire to the microUSB cable to provide additional power, that can be risky. Some repair service actually does this when the microUSB become bad. Also its very hard to do by hand because each soldering point on the microUSB port is so small that you need to put it under a magnifier to even make sure you don't accidentally solder two solder points together and mess up the entire thing.

This news is very positive for me because I was looking for an excuse to buy a new phone, but I sold my S3 to get back to the Galaxy Nexus, now I'll stay with it a little longer.

This reminded me of the case with the original Galaxy Tab P1000.
It was stated that it will support USB Host, even some pics leaked of such accessories. But after some times, it fades away since the hardware didn't support it. Many has tried over at XDA with no luck.
Perhaps Google just did a blunder like Samsung did before?
Software wise, it is just the same as Galaxy Nexus, and it indeed support it. (While accessing USB Flash Disk needs root, not for connecting Mouse or Keyboard).
Damn it..

djkinetic says:

I believe the initial documentation when the phone was marketed at launch indicated that the nexus 4 did indeed support USB-OTG, but many have been saying that it's not just a software issue and is a hardware issue...if this is the case and Google knew this before the product launch...then this could be construed as a case of false advertising...and I'm sure there will be more then a few consumers that will be looking for some type of legal recourse...personally I would love OTG but since it looks like OTG support isnt coming or isnt possible, I just went ahead and ordered a WiFi drive.

Saiga says:

I am pretty upset with this situation. I am one of the many people that bought a 8gb Nexus 4 simply because of Google's claims that connecting devices via USB was an option. The Nexus 7 is the same way. It doesn't support flash drives out of the box, but because the hardware is there it is possible.

I brought up the missing USB OTG last week. I provided screen shots of the site before any changes were made and I explained that I need more than 8gb of storage, but purchased the 8gb model because of Google advertising the feature. I asked to exchange my device for a 16gb model, even said i would happily pay the $50 difference. But the Google play support person told me I was past the 15 day return period and said they can't exchange the phone for me.

Basically, i am stuck with 8gb of storage just because I was dumb enough to believe what Google said about their own device, on their own website. I can't believe it is allowed for them to do this.

OverByter says:

Make sure that you keep that screen shot describing usb otg support and file a complaint online with the BBB.

cooperaaaron says:

I have retired my T Mobile Comet and bought a Nexus 4... Tell me, what have I been missing since using the Comet for 2+ years ? I don't need the USB storage, as I have had to deal with limited storage (yes the Comet has a memory card slot, and I bought a fast 16 GB card to use...but I only used 1.5 gb of that!) and limited memory... So, I got the 8GB version and I am happy! It's all about choices, and I choose to have the best phone for me, with the upgrades and not being tied into a carrier that may or may not upgrade my phone... My long dark nightmare is over...I don't need the 16GB version at all....

OverByter says:

I don't believe that it's a permanent issue, same thing on my Evo , you need kernel and rom support along with a powered usb cable that costs $5 on ebay.

benjdm says:

So....what did Google say?

Krishaun27 says:

.