Android Central

So, the LG Nexus 4 has a dormant LTE capability inside, and no it's not going to magically start working with LTE. Or is it? Kind of, is possibly the best way to describe what we're now starting to see. Seems some enterprising types up in Canada have been fiddling with things and amazingly have managed to kick LTE into gear on TELUS and Rogers by changing a setting in Android's testing menu (*#*#4636#*#* in the dialer app).

It all stems from an apparent compatibility with LTE band 4 on the 1700MHz and 2100MHz frequencies, due to the existing radio assembly supporting LTE on those bands. It looks like for some reason LG decided to leave a fully functional LTE radio on the N4, but disable it through a software setting. In Canada, LTE band 4 is supported by TELUS, Rogers and Bell. Outside of Canada, your HSPA+ Nexus 4 won't be able to pick up any LTE reception, unless you're in one of the very few markets AT&T has enabled LTE on band 4.

It's a neat trick, make no mistake, but before we all go running off to try and do this we should remember a few things. Just because it's possible, doesn't mean we'll be able to make good use of it for a number of reasons. Firstly, it's no use anywhere outside of Canada right now. Secondly, the Nexus 4 is not approved for use with LTE anywhere in the world at this moment in time, and as such it will likely be patched out in the future to avoid LG getting into hot water with the regulators. Remember, the Nexus 4 is marketed as a HSPA+ phone for a reason, and regulations have a part to play in that. Technically, it's unlawful to use LTE on these bands without regulatory approval, even if all it takes to enable it is a quick setting change. (It's also slightly baffling as to why LG would've left LTE radio software in a non-LTE phone -- presumably this is a hang-over from the Optimus G rather than something specifically designed for the N4.)

In any case, click on past the break for a walkthrough video of how it all came about. 

Source: XDA Developers via Android Central Forums

 

Reader comments

Setting change lets Nexus 4 pick up limited LTE signal in Canada

53 Comments

I thought that though the teardowns had reported that the N4's radio supported LTE it lacked an LTE modem to use it?

It lacks the appropriate antennas and amplifiers.

As Anandtech reported even before people started going "OMG LTE" because of iFixit, the LTE Band 4 is theoretically possible due to the fact it can use the same antenna and amplifier used for GSM.

What wasn't expected was that it would actually work out of the box, but strangely enough it does.

Need to find an engineer to frankenstein the LG optimus lte (for the parts) and the N4 together, probably cost $1000 just for the two phones and a little scratch for the engineer, then find some high school/ college kid to pay $100 to activate it over at verizon. I'd risk getting banned from vzw for this.

LTE is a GSM-based technology, but I thought there wasn't an amplifier in the Nexus 4 to power the LTE chip set in it.

Still, I like to hope there's enough of a hacker culture at Google to bury a gem like this for us to find.

Which EE told you it didn't have an antenna or an amplifier?
And from what University did that person get their degree?

Just because some guy has as spud tool doesn't make them competent to make pronouncements about the inner workings of radio chips.

The specs of the chip state that it handle HSPA and LTE on specific bands. Since the frequencies are in the same range, the existing amp and antenna will work.

And there are s lot cheaper HSPA chipsets that LG could have chosen. LG can push this phone through Canadian Certification with zero effort. They run their own in house certification lab. It's merely paper work for them.

Apple also didn't mention some LTE bands in the IPHONE 5. Some speculate that this suggests they know about the future plans of AT&T's frequency reassignment, due to be announced by mid 2013 which will change some HSPA bands to LTE.

http://gigaom.com/mobile/whats-att-planning-hidden-specs-unearthed-in-th...

LTE is a GSM-based technology, but I thought there wasn't an amplifier in the Nexus 4 to power the LTE chip set in it.

Still, I like to hope there's enough of a hacker culture at Google to bury a gem like this for us to find.

Right, and there's only amplification for Band IV (and no other LTE frequency). Again, its just an accident purely because they needed amplification for 1700/2100MHz (AWS) frequencies for UMTS. This "just works" because of that.

Bloggers make "Accidents" like this. RF engineers don't make such blunders.

AT&T is currently launching LTE over its 700 MHz network, BUT it has stated it will launch LTE in the Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) frequencies.

Its quite likely that AWS band is being agreed upon as the LTE roaming band among the carriers. Positioning a phone to operate there would be far from an accident.

Stop pretending you know something about radio engineering Andrew, you are just digging a deeper hole.

It really is just a coincidence. The hardware required to run UMTS on 1700/2100MHz AWS in the phone is just being re-used for LTE Band IV with the left-over LTE chip that's there from the Optimus G. There's no stand-alone LTE amp and antenna to operate on anything more than the overlapping frequencies required for pentaband HSPA+. That's why this still isn't, and never was, an LTE phone.

Again, if they intended for this to be used on LTE, they would have run it through the FCC the first time as an LTE device. Not to mention if they're going to make it support LTE, its going to be for more than just 1 band. It's a waste of time and money if they dont. This really is just an "accident". 

Less of a buried gem, more of an accident.  The next radio update will probably patch this out, though because it's a Nexus you could always flash the old one back.

Well if it is to be patched out due to regulations, it wouldn't surprise me if Google could request that the carriers block all Nexus 4 phones from connecting to LTE.

Its just as likely to be patched in and certified as it is to be patched out. It would cost less and open new markets.

Its really not, considering that there's added cost and time involved in running it back through the FCC.

Not to mention that this doesn't pass for LTE support. There's a lot of work involved in making it work with both LTE and HSPA with a single antenna. They'd have to construct a way to switch back and forth between using them both, similar to what the iPhone 5 does, and that's much more work than is going to be put into this given the extremely limited circumstances that it can be used in.

If it was that easy, they would've done it out of the box. This isn't some conspiracy, Google never intended LTE to be accessed on the handset, and they won't in the future either. Again, this is an accident.

It costs virtually NOTHING to re-certify a device for an additional frequency. Its done all the time. LG has their own test and certification agency in-house.

The phone cal already hand off between LTE/HSPA. Its done, its in the can, and its being used in other LG phones.

The conspiracy here is a bunch of bloggers with no technical or engineering background covering their collective asses and trying to speak for Google, and LG when they can't even read a Radio Spec sheet.

So I guess the one who wrote the blog about the N4 not having LTE is wrong. I don't remember who it was. But who ever did, before you write a book about something, please check your info. Seriously. It's a shame that a trusted blog site like androidcentral posts something and affirms it with so many arguments and end up being WRONG.

Watch out, they're deleting comments critical of this issue. They've also edited the original article to appear less definitive. This comment itself has been deleted once.

If that's true then ive just lost a lot of respect for this site. This is my go to Android site, and their podcast is phenomenal. But if they arent accountable for mistakes then I'll start going elsewhere. I was planning on buying a ton of stuff from their store for xmas gifts this year too but that wont be happening now if youre right. Gonna go check the original article now. Hope youre wrong.

You can compare the original in the google cache. Specifically they've altered the second paragraph which contained the phrase "hacking skills" and totally removed the line "ALL of those things are wrong", which leaves the last sentence as an open possibility for hacking LTE support.

Well that's disappointing. I saw they added an update to the original which I'm completely fine with. But changing the text of the original to avoid embarrassment seems wrong to me.

Yes. The correct way to do things is to leave the article unchanged but contain new information in the update. That would be completely fine.

Actually, folks, there's a nice update at the top of that article. Not sure why everyone's ignoring it.

That said, I've tweaked the update so that it's more clear, and I've reverted the headline -- that certainly shouldn't have changed. We don't usually update our timestamps when stories are updated either. That's not new.

There's some support for LTE Band 4 in the Nexus 4. And that goes against our original post, which we've updated. We'll also be revisiting our procedure for updating posts.

There's no conspiracy here. Anyone who thinks otherwise is invited to work with me for a week anytime they want, or I'll pass along my work number if you want to talk.

"I saw they added an update to the original which I'm completely fine with."

Not sure how I was ignoring it. That said I appreciate the update Phil. I certainly didn't think it was some grand conspiracy. I found it more disheartening than anything. These are complex devices and everyone makes mistakes. No shame in admitting a small goof. It was changing the original and deleting comments I didn't like. I give this site the benefit of the doubt 99.9% of the time because you guys consistently nail it. Heck, the only reason I use Google+ is to follow you and Jerry. I think a simple "Hey turns out some of this post was wrong" makes the site better and more worthy of respect, not the other way around.

If it wasn't posted on reddit, would you have put that nice header that says you've updated the article? You can't claim journalistic integrity if you can freely change your story at any time and not bother to say "hey, we're wrong about this so we've updated this article." In fact, you don't even need to update it. You could have written about the new development, link back to your old article and say you were wrong about it.

The reason everyone's ignoring it is probably because they saw it before you've put that update on top of the article. Hopefully this doesn't happen again.

Let me Google that for you: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=bgr

Sorry, I just had to do that. Always wanted to do this once in my life, even if you were being sarcastic and pretending BGR doesn't exist due to their rep XD.

WOW. Ok, so you make a statement about a hardware device based on the best info you had. People were upset.

Now, you find you were incorrect (in a way), and own up to it... and people are upset that you were wrong.

I assume people would also be upset if you had denied being wrong.

Last I checked, all the writers at AC are in fact HUMAN. They, like you and I, will make mistakes. It happens. Relax, people!!!!

It's not that they were wrong, its the derisive put downs that some AC staff used in the prior post and in the forums to anyone who posted a different opinion based on doing some actual research rather than simply parroting other blogs.

The previous article's tone was conclusive and now it doesn't sound the same. They stealth edited the previous article and if they haven't been caught, we probably wouldn't have known that they've edited it at all. We're upset because it's not something they should have done in the first place. They could have just said that "hey, see this previous article ? Looks like we're wrong as proven by a handful of members from XDA yadda yadda". This post doesn't even address how arrogant that previous post was written.

As I now understand it, although the N4 can get an LTE signal under some circumstances, because the radio is unamplified, it's really not all that useful. And whoever said they'll patch this out is probably right. I don't believe the N4 was approved for LTE use by the FCC. It's pretty standard to leave unused or deactivated components in phones. It makes producing phones cheaper. But this is just odd because it wasn't deactivated enough here.

AnandTech indicates that the Nexus 4 has the appropriate power amplifiers for the Band 4 (and others if I'm reading it right).

What I'm wondering, is what the signal strength is like.

I see that it has two bars but the speed looks good to me, at least. I'm wondering if its just a fair reception area, or if the overall signal is weaker than another LTE phone.

Would someone please post a step by step on how to activate this setting? I'm a total Android Noob (this N4 is my first Android device)on Rogers in Canada, but would like to give it a try if not too complicated. Thx.

Cool. But now I wonder if maybe you guys could be wrong again and the GSM/LTE band might become the LTE standard :-)

Alex also said there was no LTE antenna I guess they were wrong on that. I guess this just proves you cant listen to glorified end users. If you want correct information ask the devs, not the "end users" who write for AC (besides Jerry he seems to be the only one that REALLY knows anything)

There isn't an LTE antenna. This "hack" uses the existing UMTS antenna because 1700/2100 AWS is the same frequency block as LTE Band IV. That's why this only works on that 1 band, and no others.

That's what I thought: that T-Mobile will be using LTE Band 4 and is moving 1900Mhz to DC-HSPA+ for that very reason. If this is the case then all Google would have to do is a recertification to enable LTE with their most loyal hardware partner. I guess we will see sometime next year.

Maybe japans influence? The base of nexus4, optimus G, was introduced firstly (or almost) in japan, here the lte baseband is 2100mhz and some 1700mhz. Nexus4 will be lauched by ntt docomo, who uses lte at 2100mhz. It makes sense, because from this year there is no more models available without lte and docomo never steps back technologically.

Just a side note. Some over at android central deleted my comment. I can't believe you did this. I had to repost it. Wait. Did I mention you deleted my comments twice ? Hope you don't delete this one.

My personal opinion, you should of simply added an update and not even tweak a single word in the original post. Anyways, I think I'm going to start reading elsewhere as well. Because since I got my Gnex I started reading android central...sad.