Sleek, powerful, and affordable, the Nexus 4 is just about perfect for many customers. However, the device co-developed by Google and LG lacks a crucial feature for many users in North America – LTE connectivity. At a time when every Android flagship comes with LTE support, the fact that the speedy standard is not supported on the Nexus 4 has proved a deal-breaker for many potential customers.
You may remember that soon after the Nexus 4 started shipping last year, an intrepid user in Canada found a way to enable partial LTE support, by simply changing a setting on the phone. The catch was that the Nexus 4 was only supporting LTE in the so-called AWS band, which contains spectrum in the 1700 and 2100 MHz blocks. Back then, the AWS band was only used by some Canadian carriers, and Google eventually disabled the “feature” with a software patch.
In the last few months, T-Mobile has switched on its LTE network in a number of US markets, making use of the same AWS band employed by Canadian carriers. This means that, with a little hacking, it’s possible to obtain at least partial LTE connectivity and benefit from superior download speeds on your T-Mobile Nexus 4.
How to enable LTE
Reddit user Yarzospatflute published detailed instructions on how to enable LTE on a T-Mobile Nexus 4 here. Of course, in order to benefit from the trick, you need to live in an area where T-Mo has rolled out its fledgling LTE network.
Update: Also, see the comment from Lugnuts McGruff in the comments section below for a few clarifications.
The most difficult part is flashing a .zip containing three files – a radio firmware file, a patch to fix the audio for the new radio firmware, and a build.prop file that will enable the phone to present itself as an LTE device. You will need an unlocked and rooted device to flash the files, but you won’t need a custom ROM – the stock firmware works just fine. After you flash the files, you will have to configure a new APN and enable LTE from the phone’s Settings menu. If everything goes well, you should be enjoying faster speeds immediately.
Yarzospatflute’s Reddit thread provides instructions and links to the required files. Make sure to carefully go through everything before taking the plunge. The instructions may work on other carriers (including in Canada) that use AWS (also known as Band 4) LTE, though you will obviously need different APNs.
Finally, note that even if you live in an area where T-Mobile has already rolled out LTE, the drawbacks of hacking your access to LTE may not be worth the benefits. Because the Nexus 4 wasn’t actually designed to work on the standard, enabling LTE will cause increased battery drain. For the same reasons, you probably won’t get the top speeds that T-Mo advertises in your area.