Android 4.2.2 update for the Nexus 4 kills its unofficial 4G LTE

The Google Nexus 4 smartphone was never really supposed to have support for 4G LTE mobile networks. But shortly after the phone started shipping last year, users noticed that it had the hardware to support LTE, and that you could even use a software trick to connect to some LTE networks (including Rogers and Telus in Canada).

But this week Google released a software update for the Nexus 4 that AnandTech reports removes that unofficial feature.

Google Nexus 4

The good news is that the Android 4.2.2 update does add features as well, including the ability to quickly toggle WiFi and Bluetooth from the quick settings panel, and Bluetooth audio fixes.

But if you’re wondering why Google would bother updating the baseband and firmware on the Nexus 4 to remove a feature, it’s because the phone was never meant to be used with 4G LTE mobile broadband anyway.

The only reason there’s an LTE chip under the hood is because the Nexus 4 is basically a rebranded LG Optimus G with a slightly different case design, and it was probably simpler for LG to use the same design than to retool all the internal bits.

But Google and LG never applied for regulatory approval to use the Nexus 4 on 4G networks. So the companies had two choices: apply for those approvals or disable the functionality. Since the Nexus 4 didn’t have very good support for LTE anyway (it only supports a limited range set of bands and can’t, for instance, be used on AT&T’s network in the US), it probably made more sense just to include the LTE-killing feature in the software update.

So if you’re currently using a Nexus 4 on a 4G LTE network, you might want to avoid updating to Android 4.2.2. There aren’t a lot of reasons to upgrade anyway, since it’s a pretty minor update.