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Nexus 4 actually has 4G: But only in Canada, and potentially ILLEGAL

Maple syrup-suppers dig up hidden functionality

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The Nexus 4, Google's surprisingly cheap Android flagship, has another trick up its sleeve: an LTE radio which can be activated from some hidden settings.

The handset, which retails at £239 if you can get one, isn't supposed to support 4G at all, but the Qualcomm chip inside it supports LTE and users on XDA Developers discovered a settings menu from which one can request an LTE connection and, in some circumstances, establish a connection faster than previously imagined possible.

Some have called shenanigans on the video, but more reports are piling up from Canadian Nexus owners who've managed to replicate the process, enough to prompt the chaps at AnandTech to take a careful look at what is supported.

The conclusion? The Nexus 4 can do LTE, but only has hardware to support one band (Band 4) - and even then the reception is poor as the requisite filters and amplifier aren't in place. Also, as the device isn't approved for LTE, it could be illegal too.

There are more than 40 bands approved for use with LTE, with Band 4 starting at 1710MHz for the uplink and 2110MHz for the down - with both directions occupying up to 45MHz. It's very unusual to have the uplink and downlink so far apart, 400MHz in this instance, so only operators who hold such diverse spectrum for historical reasons would be interested in using it, which includes Telus.

Here in the UK, EE does have holdings in both the uplink and downlink of Band 4, so in theory they could use LTE in Band 4, but the downlink is full of 3G while the 1710MHz uplink is being filled with LTE operating in Band 2 (which uses a downlink starting at 1805Mhz). So the Nexus 4 won't be supporting LTE in the UK any time soon.

But that doesn't entirely explain why Google isn't promoting the handset as a "4G" device. Even if it wasn't usable in the USA it would have muddied the water quite a bit... It's probable that without the amplifier and filters the LTE performance just wasn't good enough for the network operators.

Google could have put the circuits in, but then it would be under pressure to support more bands, which would then increase the cost of the handset, so it's much better to let the functionality be "discovered" to the delight of Android fans who are even now probing the Nexus 4 casing for signs of a hidden SD Card slot. ®

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