Nexus 4

Well, would you look at that. Someone went and dissected their Nexus 4

But that's not just any someone. That's Rod Whitby of webOS Internals fame who's taken apart his Nexus 4, with the intent of swapping out the Qi wireless charging for the tried and true, old-school (and now defunct) Palm Touchstone. (As we showed last year, the Nexus 4 and Touchstone are not compatible.)  "Qi charging (or at least the physical implementation of it on current devices) is inferior to Palm Touchstone charging," Whitby wrote recently on Google+.

Nexus 4 wireless charging became a bit of a thing this week when webOS Nation editor -- and like many of us here a multi-platform tinkerer -- expressed his loathing for the Nexus 4's official wireless charging orb. So Whitby, as any good Android hacker should appreciate, is doing something about it. And he's no stranger to this sort of mod, having performed it on the Galaxy Nexus as well as on the Nexus 7.

Will this one be successful? It's going to be a tight fit, Whitby writes. But if anyone can do it, it's him. 

Source: +Rod Whitby


Reader comments

What mutant surgery is this Nexus 4 about to undergo?


Unless you separate the digitizer from the LCD, lint/dust inside the casing is as irrelevant as the dust in your laptop. Just zap it with some compressed air, and its fine.

If you think dust and lint doesn't get inside your smartphone anyway, you must not have ever opened one up after it's been travelling in your pocket for a year. Look inside the earphone jack and USB socket for a start ...

-- Rod

Ewwwww!!! Gross! I always thought that was probable. Oh well...Just got to keep it clean as best and safely as we can. LOL.

Would be allot easier and save the warranty if he just changed the charging pad. There are some real top quality versions to choose from. Dumb, dumb, dumb. WebOS isn't coming back.

What does this have to do with webOS outside of using old wireless charging parts? Stop trolling and go read the article. He is simply trying to improve on a design that Google has not perfected yet. By the way, Rod is one of the most respected webOS contributors. Calling him dumb is pretty stupid on your part.

Dumb would be spending over $300 to replace the 5 touchstones in my house, car and office with Qi chargers. Dumb would also be needing to have two different chargers in all those places for the Palm Pre2, HP Pre 3, Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 7, HP TouchPad, HP TouchPad Go, HP TouchPad 4G devices that also all wirelessly charge on the Palm Touchstone.

You may like to consider that someone else's circumstances may be different from yours before making such statements. What this world needs is more people who can see things from another's point of view, rather than assuming that everyone else's environment, wants and needs should somehow always match their own.

BTW, I have not yet seen a Qi charger that can hold a phone vertical in a car, with nothing underneath the bottom edge of the phone, like the Palm Touchstone can ...

-- Rod

Dumb would be spending over $300 on 5 touchstones when 5 regular standard usb chargers are less than $30. please don't tell me your not that coordinated to put a plug in a phone.

Touchstones are very cheap. I just found some on Amazon for $9 each. I've seen them cheaper before as well...

Wireless charging is way better than having to plug in a cable. There's no questioning that.

Is wireless charging slower? I saw one of those universal charging pads for phones, mp3 players, flashlights, or anything with rechargeable batteries. But you need an adapter for what you are charging , was going to get one but not compatible with my Galaxy Nexus.

Dumb is tearing apart every new device you get because you won't let go of a dead OS but whatever. To each his own. I love seeing hardware mods like this, you don't happen to have any pictures of the N4 after you're finished do you?

This isn't about an OS, it's about quality wireless charging. If it were about webOS the story would include something about him hacking webOS onto all of his android devices.

Really wondering what a wireless charging modification has to do with OS choice, considering most of the devices I have modified to work on the Palm Touchstone (a piece of hardware, not software) actually run Android. It's quite interesting how some folks don't seem to be able to differentiate between hardware and software, or perhaps feign ignorance to push another agenda.

Pictures of the modification as it progresses can be found at the source link (my G+ thread). Since I don't own a time machine, it's currently non-trivial to post finished pictures of something that is still in progress.

-- Rod

This is quite interesting to me. I have a Nexus 4 and a Touchstone that will potentially never see use again. With some patience and a decent tutorial, I would be willing to give it a whirl.

I used to enjoy doing these types of things. These days, I would just paid the $300 to replace or add to the chargers.

Rod, if you could do this to add... say to 32GB of storage...I would send you my N4 and pay you!

Unfortunately, BGA rework is not one of my hardware skills, nor do I have access to the required equipment.

-- Rod

I applaud the effort, but again I scratch my head. My orb has been wonderful ever since it was released, a little cleaning of the pad goes a long way (and care). I have always been impressed by the fast and easy charge of it, looking to purchase a few more. Don't be scared of "THE ORB"

Yes, but you can only use the orb on a desk or table. With the Touchstone, you can use it pretty much anywhere (like in a car) since the magnets hold on to the phone much better.

Also, you don't need to worry about cleaning a Touchstone. It'll work the same every time you go to use it.

Why can't someone just make a series of phone cases that have the charging coil and connect to the regular phone port?

Like many I still have my touchstones on my car dash, by my nightstand and by my computer.

No, Palm seems to have considered that.

Relatively sure the phone itself doesn't house magnets. The strong magnets are in the base with magnetic (not magnetized) slugs in the back plate.

At the very least I can say if the ones in the phone *are* magnetized, they've extremely weak compared to the TouchStone (the charger) magnets. Probing the back of the phone with a paper clip (or what have you), I can't feel or see any magnetic pull.

Phone is always in one pocket, wallet is always in another. Problem solved.

You may also want to watch the Mythbusters episode which covers this.

-- Rod

Brilliant stuff, Rod. Curious to see how this effects the performance of the digital compass.

Pretty sure the four little plugs in the phone plate are magnetic (but not permanently magnetized) metal with the work being done by strong magnets in the base. Not positive, though. Regardless, the slugs can still pick up a residual magnetization that have the potential to throw off the internal compass depending on its sensitivity and the strength of the residual. Compass wasn't a concern with webOS of yore.

At any rate, the motivation is sound. Sticky-bottom charger and magnetic mounting are great on the TouchStones. The combination "just works," including nice auto-positioning due to the magnet placement. Without looking, you can feel by the gentle pull where the phone wants (and needs) to go.

The distortions caused by fixed magnets added to the device remain constant and in a fixed location relative to the compass for all heading orientations, and add a constant magnitude field component along each axis of the sensor output. This appears as a shift in the origin of the circle equal to the disturbance in the X and Y (and perhaps Z) axis.

Compensation for local fixed magnetic distortion is usually done by rotating the compass in a circle and measure enough points on the circle to determine this offset (i.e. taking the smartphone through it's compass calibration procedure). Once found, the (X,Y) offset is stored in memory and subtracted from every reading. The net result eliminates the disturbance from the heading calculation.

It is true that some sensitivity is lost due to the potential for clipping of the sensor output, but I find I charge the phone at least two orders of magnitude more often than I use the compass.

-- Rod

Ah, savvy. And as an afterthought, the Pre 3 has a compass. As you say, I use it so infrequently I hadn't thought of it. So yes, probably can be calibrated away as needed.

Regardless, I did see another TS mod thread stating the bits in the back plate don't have any significant permanent magnetization anyway. That lines up with what I see. Curious if you can confirm as well. They were modding theirs with magnets to double up the gripping strength for an in-car unit. Clever, though then one would be carrying around a magnetic phone.

I don't understand, taking a fully functioning device, with a fully functioning charging system with multivendor options for charging, then do surgery to use a failure system? This guy needs a life.

This lack of understanding of the challenge and subsequent reward of modifying something to suit one's particular environment (rather than accepting an inferior solution for a specific set of circumstances) does seem to be widespread these days.

I wonder if those making comments such as these have actually ever felt the satisfaction of creating something new, rather than just commenting from the sidelines.

-- Rod

I could see if this was to add a function, not to downgrade to some similar technology that couldn't survive the market.
If is was something like a new rom for the N4, or something that improved actual use performance, my post would be quite different. And there is no doubt he has that ablity. I do think the state about needing a life went to far, and in that I will admit I'm wrong.

Note that for my specific circumstance (5 touchstones already placed in my house, car and office, and numerous other family devices which charge on them without issue), this is needed to bring the functionality and usability of the Nexus 4 up to par with my other devices. Unfortunately it was the company, not the technology, which failed the Palm Touchstone.

No offence taken at the get a life comment. Cheers.

-- Rod

Thanks for accepting my appology, didn't even know it was you who did it. And really like my N4 too.

Thanks for the exploration work Rod. Most of the people here didn't come from the Palm Pre, so they have no idea what you have contributed to the open source community. Actually if it hadn't been for your efforts I think WebOS wouldn't have the cult following it has today. I'm not only amazed at your ability to tackle the "what-ifs", but your willingness to share the experience with no strings attached. I think that is why I always get amazed when people critize someone when they are willing to share their work. It is very medievil.

I have 'Plenty' of extra Palm products. Charging stone, assorted palm phones... some brand new & rarely used, all in excellent shape. Shout if you want extra parts.

Blah, forget wireless charging. I'll stick with a removable battery and a spare charging dock. Just swap and go as needed. Phone itself is never ever stuck on a charger! :)

Start making cash right now... Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $9000 a month. I've started this job and i've never been happier and now i am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here