Nexus 4 teardown reveals dormant LTE chip inside, Nexus 10 is “extremely repairable”

by: AdrianNovember 17, 2012

We don’t know how many of you were lucky enough to procure themselves one of the two new Nexus devices, but we know at least a couple of guys that grabbed a Nexus 4 and 10 and… ripped them to pieces.

Not cool, I know, but at least we’re not talking about the gratuitous kind of ripping to pieces that our own crazy Darcy LaCouvee has turned into art. We are talking instead about a couple of scientific teardowns whose goals have been to reveal all of the small parts, screws, bits and pieces found inside the gadgets.

The Nexus 4 has been taken for the destructive ride by the good folks over at iFixit, while its bigger 10-inch brother got torn down by PowerbookMedic. Both websites have made quite the discoveries after their inspections, so let’s dive right in.

Nexus 4 teardown

First off, the phone that everybody craves for. This, as you may already know, seemed to have three major flaws in a wide sea of advantages and strong points. The battery was non-removable, there was no way of expanding the on-board storage, while connectivity options only included 3G and HSPA+ (no 4G LTE).

However, after taking a close look at the phone’s motherboard, iFixit found a Qualcomm WTR1605L seven-band 4G LTE chip on there. This was definitely a major shocker, but before getting too excited, you should know that there’s almost no chance in hell this will actually support LTE networks.

That’s because it is a dormant chip, but even more importantly because the Nexus 4 doesn’t seem to have any LTE power amplifier on board or a 4G LTE antenna to capture the needed network signal. So, if that’s the case, what’s the chip doing there after all? Well, we have no way to know for sure, but we’re guessing this stayed in place (intentionally or not) from the Optimus G, the LG phone that inspired Nexus’s design.

Even with all this, we can surely allow ourselves to hope, but again it’s highly unlikely that the Nexus 4 will ever support LTE. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s recap some of the other things revealed by iFixit’s teardown:

  • The phone’s overall repairability score is 7 out of 10 (same as the iPhone 5 and Nexus 7)
  • There are only four different length screws and a total of 15 screws used to build the device, so it’s not very hard to tear it down
  • The battery is truly difficult to remove, puncturing it in the process being a major risk
  • The removing of the back cover is however much easier to do, requiring “a common screwdriver, a plastic opening tool, and some patience”
  • Besides the battery, the only other major worry affecting the phone’s repairability score is the glass front, which is fused to the display and display frame

Nexus 10

While Nexus 10’s teardown didn’t reveal as grand a surprise as the LTE chip inside the 4, PowerbookMedic still found a couple of interesting things:

  • The device is “extremely repairable”, with no glue and very few screws getting in the way of the disassembly (the website didn’t give the Nexus 10 a “repairability score”, but we think that would have at least been a 9)
  • Many of the components in the device are manufactured by Samsung, including the battery, processor and flash memory
  • You can disconnect the battery very easily, with its connector being rubberized and flexible
  • The rear-facing camera is another component “easily” replaceable

So, there you have it, folks, a very easily repairable Nexus 10 made almost entirely by Samsung and a slightly more stubborn Nexus 4. Surprised? Also, be sure to not try any of this at home unless you really, really have to! Or if you want to punish your precious new devices for something.

  • Ayman Kouzayha

    Nexus family is so tempting O_o I want them all

    • Apple_Nexus

      Haha. Me too!

    • On a Clear Day

      Traveling side shows, circuses as well as Coney Island attractions used to have – probably still do – one that allowed young men to display their physical prowess to their young lady friends (or guys to their boy friends – be it as may).

      You know the one, where you take a heavy wooden mallet and hit a spot on a lever that shoots a metal object skyward where – if you are strong enough – it rings a bell and announces you have won.

      The saying that grew out of this, when one failed to ring the bell because you weren’t capable to truly achieving the goal and ringing the bell successfully was:

      “Close but no cigar.” Perfect characterization for the Google Nexus 4.

      • Ayman Kouzayha

        cool story bro, but I didn’t read it

        • On a Clear Day

          Never had any hope that you would attempt to read it – or even probably understand it if you did. It was written for readers whose vocabulary long ago left behind “bro” as an acceptable attempt at expression or address.

          • Ayman Kouzayha

            in my country we have a saying which is:
            Did you swallow a dictionary!?
            u mad?

  • Ahmad Rashed

    Stop acting like that Qualcomm chip is so surprising to find. The quad core SoC supports zero forms of any wireless technology. In order to support 3G you need some sort of external modem. It’s obviously a no-brainer to use that Qualcomm 9xxx chip as it supports literally every wireless technology from 2G to 3G DC-HSPA+ to LTE. It’s the same chip used in the newest IPhone and countless other phones.

    Point being: don’t bull-shat your readers, it’s not professional.

    • Jon1123

      Actually, moron, the 7 band LTE chip inside the nexus 4 and the iPhone 5 ONLY serve the function of LTE Connectivity. That’s why there is a gsp Hspa+ chip as well as a 7band LTE chip on completely different sides of the motherboard. Meaning the only logical reason to put that chip there is for lte connectivity and that it doesnt effect the gsm hspa+ function of the phone. Gettalife don’t talk shit to the author without knowing shit yourself.

  • Rambir

    The fact that the Nexus 4 has an LTE chip is down to the fact that it runs the S4 Pro which has it built in as default, it has nothing to do with the Optimus G. Many other LTE phones have a HSDPA+ chip built into the processor with an LTE chip seperate, All this does is waste battery, iPhone 5, S3, i’m looking at you.

  • RarestName

    Future title: Key Lime Pie update magically turns the Nexus 4 into an LTE phone.