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Despite a spiffy design and some powerful hardware, we were disappointed that Google’s Nexus 4 smartphone didn’t include LTE 4G support. But with a simple software tweak, it looks like Canadian Nexus 4 users can enable nascent LTE capabilities.
Videos of the Nexus 4 running on Canadian carriers’ LTE networks appeared on the XDA Developers forum yesterday. Even better, turning on the Nexus 4’s LTE capabilities doesn’t take a major hack — you simply need to access the phone’s test menu by dialing *#*#4636#* and change the “Preferred Network Type” option to LTE.
How is this possible? It looks like LG, which built the Nexus 4, used a Qualcomm chipset that has support for LTE band 4, a spectrum range that Canadian carriers Rogers and Telus support. An LG spokesperson recently told TechRadar that it used the same chipset found in the LTE-equipped Optimus G, but noted that the phone couldn’t support LTE entirely without additional amplifiers and filters.
We’ve asked Google for comment on this hidden LTE functionality and will update when we hear back.
Unfortunately for Nexus 4 owners in the rest of the world, LTE band 4 (which covers AWS 1700 and 2100MHz spectrum) isn’t widely supported outside of Canada. Verizon’s LTE network and the majority of AT&T’s use entirely different spectrum bands. AT&T uses AWS spectrum for some of its LTE network, but it’s not easy to find.
The LTE hack makes the Nexus 4 an even better phone for T-Mobile subscribers, since Band 4 LTE is what that carrier will eventually rely on. For now, T-Mobile customers will be using the carrier’s HSPA+ network. But once T-Mobile starts rolling out LTE, the Nexus 4 should be able to speed up nicely.
For now, this LTE hack is exactly that. There’s nothing preventing Google from releasing an update that disables the feature. And there’s no telling what enabling LTE will do to your battery life, or if it will cause your Nexus 4 to overheat.