Nexus 4 can handle LTE after all, but only in Canada

By on November 23, 2012, 9:29 AM

Google’s latest Nexus 4 smartphone is a great deal at only $300 or $350 for the 8GB or 16GB model, unlocked, and without the nuisance of a contract. But even though its specs are about on par with today's top performing phones, it falls short in one critical aspect: no official support for LTE networks. The key word here is ‘official’, as new videos have popped up showing the phone can actually handle some form of LTE.

As it happens the Nexus 4, developed by LG, is closely based on the company’s Optimus G handset using the same Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset with a built in LTE radio. But in order for the capability to work properly it must be combined with other essential hardware, such as a signal amplifier and filter, which the Nexus 4 lacks. Google left this feature out in order to have complete control of the software with no carrier intervention -- there's no access to LTE networks without working with each carrier in one way or another.

But it turns out LTE Band 4 (1700MHz and 2100MHz) could be supported with the hardware already are onboard the Nexus 4. The folks at TekGadg were able to hit speeds of up to 16Mbps on the Telus LTE network, which happens to use this frequency along with Rogers and Bell in Canada, and all it took was changing a setting in a test menu accessed with simple short-code on the phone’s dialer.

According to the video, all you need to do is dial in *#*#4636#*#*. This will bring up a menu with the phone’s settings where you can switch the default WCDMA preferred mode to to one that supports LTE.

The bad news is outside of Canada pretty much no one else is using these bands for LTE. AT&T is licensed to operate on Band 4, but for now they’ve only deployed LTE on Band 17 (700MHz) -- same as Verizon. There’s a glimmer of hope for T-Mobile customers, however, as the company plans to launch LTE on Band 4 next year.

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