Nexus 4 online manual now says it doesn’t support USB OTG

by: Bams SadewoDecember 10, 2012

Nexus 4 owners — we hate to say it, but  it’s looking increasingly likely that you won’t be able to use any USB OTG devices on your brand new super smartphone.

A few weeks after the issue was raised, Google has edited out several lines from the phone’s online guidebook that says you can connect devices like “a keyboard, mouse or even a joystick” to the smartphone via USB. The updated page now says that “USB is not supported for connecting such devices.”

While there’s always the Bluetooth way for those who like to use their keyboard and mouse accessories, the same solution can’t be applied by folks who are thinking of plugging a USB memory stick into the phone – a not so preposterous thought given the lack of an expandable storage option on the Nexus 4.

Other Nexus devices, such as the Google Nexus and the Nexus 7, also don’t sport a microSD card slot. But enabling USB OTG function on past devices is a fairly simple matter. As for the Nexus 4, it looks like the limitation is hardware-related, something that a software update or workaround can’t fix.

Any thoughts and concerns about the confirmed missing feature? Or are you still hopeful that developers will be able to come up with a solution?

  • Markus Ressel

    Shame on you Google!

    • Tatsuya

      Exactly what I wanted to post.

      Such an Apple like limitation.

      And you have people to tell you “having less is better” when we can have great storage at a cheap price… talk about modernity when you have to wait for slow transfers and coverage issues for cloud solution (and pay for it). Not even talking about privacy…

      Android is great because you have the choice. Stop that Google.

  • Actually I’m starting to think it might be a dealbreaker for me… Guys, is it a really bad decision to buy a Galaxy Nexus instead? (they cost the same now, and that’s all I can afford – I don’t even have budget for the 16g Nexus – and the 8G is constantly out of stock in Germany) I appreciate your advice!

    • Mike Reid

      I don’t have any Nexus device among the 18 phones I use for testing my app, but…

      I’d personally only get a Galaxy Nexus if I needed Nexus AND LTE together, and if I lived in the US or somewhere I couldn’t use the hidden LTE on the Nexus 4. (Here in Canada we CAN use the hidden LTE.)

      I was writing “If I wanted USB OTG on a Nexus 4, I’d run a custom ROM, or just a kernel that supported OTG.” But now that I read a bit to verify, it seems the hardware (or at least the +5v) isn’t there. On the Nexus 7 I believe it was just a ROM/kernel issue.

      What do you want USB OTG for ? It’s just to turn the phone into similar to a PC, for USB keyboards or other USB peripherals. Most people don’t have a need for it, so unless you have a clear need, I wouldn’t recommend making a purchase decision on it.

      Personally I’m not too attracted to any of the Nexus’s. I’m happier with Galaxy S3/Note/Note2/ HTC OneX. But I’d get a Nexus 4 instead of the year older Galaxy Nexus if I was set on a Nexus. Newer is better, though I’m not too fond of LG devices due to the shortcuts they take to cut price.

    • runekey

      Why would you buy a year-old phone for the same price as one of the best phones on the market right now?

  • Kagnon

    I think a custom kernel should get it working, just like Nexus 7

    • PopeJamal

      While understandable, that seems like a BIG oversight on the part of LG. Plus, how did google not test this? I’m getting the impression that the Nexus 4 isn’t nearly as big of a bargain as some initially thought. They seem to have cut quite a few corners.

    • john

      But do we really need 5V for OTG? I mean most keyboards etc draw less than 2…

      • PacoBell

        Yes, you really do need 5V. It’s part of the USB standard. The real question you should be asking yourself is: Does Mako support at least the 100mA output necessary to remain in OTG spec?

        • john

          That’s really only for USB3.0, and still then hardly any devices draw that much power, with exception of few HDDs and so on.
          I mean if someone really wants full USB power plus extra, just carry an Arduino board with external battery. You can charge your phone, use full USB3.0 devices, etc. After all, you are willing to carry the USB peripherals, why not a micro controller?

  • Nessim

    Google is becoming more and more arrogant the same way Apple is right now and if you think about it for a second :
    Nexus4 is more like an iPhone4S in its design (back glass) and its philosophy (no expendable storage, no removable battery, limited in its hardware).
    Google become more and more arrogant the more it is growing.
    Shame on you

    • DROID

      the nexus isn’t meant to be a top tier phone! it’s meant to showcase the next iterations of the android os!
      don’t get it twisted,the nexus isn’t meant to compete with OEM’s rather compliment their efforts.

      • Nessim

        Nexus devices are ment to show how an android phone/tablet/sThinElse has to be in the future and in the eyes of Google.
        except for the price, everything in the Nexus4 is a crap.
        SGS3 stays on top

        • SK

          But they’ve never had top specs… and that OTG doesn’t work on the Nexus 4 isn’t Google’s fault. It’s a hardware issue with the phone itself because of the way LG designed the hardware.

          I dono’t even get why this is a surprise… LG doesn’t make anything good in the electronics world, I would never give them my money again after consistant bad experiences with LG products.

          • Nessim

            I’m sorry dude! But Google is a BIG company that can easily make good and responsible choices.
            The base of the Nexus4 is the LG Optimus G and if the Optimus has the OTG, it would be very easy to implement it in the Nexus4. So, for me, Google asked to have such a LOCKED phone.
            Google used to be very open in the past and that’s why so many tech saavy ppl like the company, but now a day, Google has grown too much and is begining beeing very disrespectful toward its user base teling them a microSD is comfusing for them to manage it in their phone.
            Google looks more and more like Apple and it will be even worst if you ppl stand no matter what with them, and never critisize their work.
            A microSD slot (very important for emerging markets) bundel is NOT expensive to add.
            A removable battery either
            LTE is important for the big US market



        • Melad360

          What are you talking about? Just about every spec of the nexus 4 is better than the s3; 2gb ram (depending if you have the international version or North American one), the s4 pro processor, super ips+ display (technically superior than pentile amoled…colour saturation levels are personal preference), newest verion of android, etc…

  • runekey

    How can they get away with something like this? Surely this is a classic example of a bait and switch?

  • strider_mt2k

    Too tightly controlled, and for no reason other than profit.
    That’s evil.

  • Gfan

    quite disappointed because of this. I bought one for my brother. My S3 supports USB OTG natively; however, I rarely use that function. 16Gb is enough for multimedia and other stuff. if i want to transfer anything, I do it through cloud. But bad move, Google, bad move.

  • falconrunner

    How about the nexus media importer app. works on my google N7

  • john

    I just don’t see why this is the case…I mean most OTG devices have very small draw and well within the range of USB. So, there is a mini USB on most phones, just by implementing some clever codes to the kernel wouldn’t OTG be possible on most devices?