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Useless 4G Chip Discovered in Google Nexus 4

By - Source: iFixit | B 22 comments

Teardown reveals previously unknown feature.

Google's LG-developed Nexus 4 apparently features a previously unknown 4G chip.

Repair experts iFixit found that the recently released smartphone features a Qualcomm WTR1605L Seven-Band 4G LTE chip situated on its motherboard. It also sports a Avago ACPM-7251 Quad-Band GSM/EDGE chip for 3G support.

Although Nexus 4 owners will be delighted with their handset boasting a 4G chip, it's still missing several key components in order for users to utilize the 4G technology itself. A 4G antenna and power amplifier is not present, which leaves no way of enabling it.

The Nexus 4 is powered by a quad-core processor, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Pro, as well as 2GB of RAM. In addition to a 4.7-inch display with a 1,280 x 768 pixel resolution, the device also has a 8-megapixel rear camera, a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and supports wireless charging and NFC.

Within minutes of its availability on Google's Play Store, both the smartphone's 8GB and 16GB variants sold out.

 

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  • 20 Hide
    gamingboy , November 19, 2012 10:07 PM
    "Useless 4G Chip Discovered in Google Nexus 4"

    Best headline of the day.
  • 16 Hide
    samwelaye , November 19, 2012 10:45 PM
    mikehoncho84So is Google passing the cost of that off on the consumer? If so that's BS.


    More likely its simply cheaper to include this cheap than to exclude it as it simplifies LG's manufacturing structure since it shares similarities with the optimus G
  • 11 Hide
    juncture , November 19, 2012 10:06 PM
    This would suggest there will be a upgrade model in the future with an added antenna and amplifier.
Other Comments
  • 5 Hide
    HopelessNoob , November 19, 2012 10:05 PM
    I'm still waiting for my Nexus 4 :( 
  • 11 Hide
    juncture , November 19, 2012 10:06 PM
    This would suggest there will be a upgrade model in the future with an added antenna and amplifier.
  • 20 Hide
    gamingboy , November 19, 2012 10:07 PM
    "Useless 4G Chip Discovered in Google Nexus 4"

    Best headline of the day.
  • 16 Hide
    samwelaye , November 19, 2012 10:45 PM
    mikehoncho84So is Google passing the cost of that off on the consumer? If so that's BS.


    More likely its simply cheaper to include this cheap than to exclude it as it simplifies LG's manufacturing structure since it shares similarities with the optimus G
  • 6 Hide
    InvalidError , November 19, 2012 11:22 PM
    Even if the Nexus4 shared the same PCB as some other LG phone, the 4G chip should have been omitted at the PCB assembly stage (empty component pads) if it serves absolutely no purpose.
  • -4 Hide
    faster23rd , November 19, 2012 11:27 PM
    Hmmm. Would that mean that customers are paying for something they don't use but is present in the device? Wouldn't that mean that buyers paid more (for the chip) but got nothing? Just a thought, I may be missing something.
  • 7 Hide
    kog91 , November 19, 2012 11:29 PM
    InvalidErrorEven if the Nexus4 shared the same PCB as some other LG phone, the 4G chip should have been omitted at the PCB assembly stage (empty component pads) if it serves absolutely no purpose.



    Unless they plan on using the same assembly line to build the 4G version.

    Also, you can't just omit a part when the whole line is tooled to build a specific motherboard. It is much more cost effective to be able to produce motherboards for multiple devices on the same line, so that you don't have the down-time to retool. This in turn passes on a savings to the consumer, reducing the cost of a device.

    It is much easier to omit the antenna at the hand-assembly portion of the device build.
  • -4 Hide
    memadmax , November 19, 2012 11:46 PM
    What the F was the point of putting the chip on the board if it can't do anything????
    That is till some modders come along =D
  • 4 Hide
    kog91 , November 19, 2012 11:51 PM
    memadmaxWhat the F was the point of putting the chip on the board if it can't do anything????That is till some modders come along =D


    BGA devices (such as 4G modems) are fairly difficult to reliably (millions of units) hand solder to a board. Power amplifiers are very easy to attach. By producing a board compatible with multiple handsets, LG can use the same board over and over. In fact, they only need to have one component soldered to the motherboard to make it 4G ready. This is very cost effective, as the development cost for each motherboard design is fairly high.
  • 0 Hide
    jhansonxi , November 20, 2012 12:47 AM
    They may be utilizing some part of the chip, just not the full functionality, especially if it is a low-bin part that had a faulty 4G section that wasn't critical to this particular assembly.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 20, 2012 3:04 AM
    "They may be utilizing some part of the chip, just not the full functionality, especially if it is a low-bin part that had a faulty 4G section that wasn't critical to this particular assembly."

    -I would say that is the case. It's very easy (and cheap) to specify two different PCB loads if they want to share the PCB for different products. I can't believe it would have been loaded in error or that it would be a production cost saving.
  • 2 Hide
    kog91 , November 20, 2012 3:18 AM
    jhansonxiThey may be utilizing some part of the chip, just not the full functionality, especially if it is a low-bin part that had a faulty 4G section that wasn't critical to this particular assembly.


    Actually, now that I think about it. They could be using the boards that failed the QC for LTE operation. Kind of like AMD turning off faulty cores and selling processors in lower bins to recoup costs. Except in this case, the boards have the power amplifier removed and power traces likely cut to the LTE chip.

    As for partial functionality, not very likely:

    http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/qualcomm-work-chip-support-multiple-700-mhz-bands/2012-06-05

    The bands this chip uses aren't usable for anything other than 4G. Also, the missing power amplifier is what is used to increase the output signal to a useful signal strength.

    3G and lower data bands are being handled by the other chip mentioned, the Avago ACPM-7251.
  • 1 Hide
    kog91 , November 20, 2012 3:31 AM
    otacon72Makes it even more ridiculous why it doesn't have LTE. Releasing a smartphone without LTE is just stupid....even the iPhone has it now.


    Actually, LTE is still a pretty new technology. Aside from major population centers, there are few areas that actually see any sort of coverage. For instance, Fort Myers in Florida is said to have LTE coverage for Verizon, but most of the time you will only be able to get a 3G signal.

    See also: http://network4g.verizonwireless.com/#/coverage

    Note that the Green dots are the only areas with 4G. Verizon is also the largest LTE network in the US.

    Not to mention the fact that current LTE designs guzzle battery power. It will be another few years before LTE is operating at the same power as 3G solutions like CDMA. Many manufacturers have even tried working around this by limiting LTE usage to more data intensive activities.

    In the meantime, phones can be produced cheaper without the extra radio, and consumers can pick up very good smartphones for less than their LTE brethren. Or better yet, the cost saved on not having an LTE radio can be used to add more storage or a faster processor.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , November 20, 2012 4:29 AM
    Is the power amplifier missing or is Google waiting for LTE to be so prevalent that no power amplification is needed for the signal, at which time it will provide an update to Android to enable the chip?
  • 1 Hide
    kingnoobe , November 20, 2012 1:15 PM
    Ya you are missing something faster. Common sense.

    Did you buy the phone for 4G? No, well ok then does it matter if there is a chip in there. If you got exactly what you paid for then who cares. Even if somebody tries to say they're passing on the extra cost (which I agree with kog on, specially since I've worked on lines) it doesn't matter. You still got what you paid for.
  • -3 Hide
    allawash , November 20, 2012 1:56 PM
    Developed by LG? I'll pass.
  • 2 Hide
    masterasia , November 20, 2012 2:19 PM
    I was skeptical about the Nexus 4 being from LG. But so far after 1 full day of use. It's the best damn Android phone I've ever owned.
  • 0 Hide
    targetdrone , November 20, 2012 3:39 PM
    Google's lack of a SD card slot is all the reason I need to never buy one of their devices.
  • 0 Hide
    murzar , November 20, 2012 3:49 PM
    It is a bit pricey here in my country, yet it's a sweet deal w.r.t. to others, but just. Not as revolutionary (price-wise) like in the US.
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