For those lucky enough to have purchased a Nexus 4 at launch and when they are available for order, many have discovered and since used a workaround to access and activate the internal LTE radio built into each device, and mainly centered on LTE usage in Canada and select AT&T markets in the US.
As shipped from the manufacturer, in this case LG, the Nexus 4 ships with a Qualcomm multi-mode chipset with both HSPA and a technically dormant LTE radio based on the firmware being applied to the device.
However, since its release, enterprising hackers have found ways to activate the LTE radio for use in markets and on certain carriers that allowed and supported LTE access on the 1700MHz band LTE radio contained within each Nexus 4, with no real way for Google or affected carriers to block access until now.
Within the next few days, Google will begin flagging devices for OTA updates to 4.2.2, which will block LTE access by disabling the LTE radio and blocking workarounds to activate the radio through hacked firmware.The new update is already being staged for sideloading and manual flashing on devices.
The earliest reports of the new update have already confirmed that applying it will indeed disable the LTE radio and therefore access to LTE speeds on the device, leaving enthusiasts in a tough spot. As LG never officially filed the paperwork necessary to classify and certify the device for LTE usage with the FCC, the existence of the access workaround for LTE was seen as an anomaly for the device, since it was never meant to officially feature LTE support from the outset of its development.
LG’s compressed tandem development window with its own Optimus G smartphone, which is a variant of the Nexus 4 meant that LG was essentially using parts from the Optimus G in the Nexus 4 to save on development costs and time, and likely never took into account the possibility of the LTE radio ever being used in the Nexus 4 without first needing to go back and file for a Permissive Change waiver, a process which is rarely done for cellular hardware unless carriers are also involved in the process to activate new radio band and service support already in place at the carrier level.
Since the update includes important fixes for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and adds quick toggle widgets, the update is rather minor in terms of features added, but the fact that it blocks hardware-level LTE access means that any hopes of ever seeing an update to officially activate the LTE radio may not be coming anytime soon, especially after the debacle that was the Galaxy Nexus, which is still plagued by update woes owing to the increased amount of control exercised by carriers in comparison to other Nexus smartphone models.
As an example, with the release of Jelly Bean 4.2.2, the Verizon Wireless version of the Galaxy Nexus is now 4 full versions behind compared to other carrier variants and Verizon has yet to officially respond to requests for comment on continued updates for the Galaxy Nexus. With this latest update, Google is sending a signal that it wants nothing to do with LTE on the Nexus line, at least until carriers can get on the same page with Google regarding LTE access and timely device updates.