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

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.
November 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.