Google’s flagship smartphone lacks one of the most common features we expect to find on high-end devices. The Nexus 4 does not support 4G LTE networks, and it will only support GSM/HSPA+ compatible networks. As expected, the Nexus 4 will be sold in an unlocked version that supports a penta-band radio (850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100 MHz), which means it can run on existing 4G HSPA+ networks from AT&T and T-Mobile.
T-Mobile’s 4G HSPA+ network supports 42 Mbps modems, but the Nexus 4 will only support 4G HSPA+ 21 Mbps. This means customers on AT&T and T-Mobile will see similar performance, since both networks will support the same HSPA+ 21 Mbps speeds. A recent report by Root Metrics showed that AT&T offered slightly better speeds, but Verizon is still king in most markets.
Update: The Android Press site says the Nexus 4 supports HSPA+ 42 Mbps, and the Google Play Store listing has it listed at 21 Mbps.
Dieter Bohn and Nilay Patel of The Verge spoke with Google’s Andy Rubin and he said the lack of 4G LTE was a “tactical issue.” Rubin cites cost and battery life as major concerns with LTE devices and admitted the Verizon Galaxy Nexus “wasn’t a great user experience.”
It’s always possible that we could see a future version of the Nexus 4 with LTE on any one of the major carriers, but we wouldn’t expect anything like that this year. T-Mobile is the premier launch partner for the Nexus 4, and it looks like they will be the only carrier to sell the device with a subsidy.
The Nexus 4 goes on sale on November 13th for $299, and the price is really competitive for what it offers. You should expect the best of hardware and software at a price that is half of what the best unlocked phones are selling for.
I already have a T-Mobile compatible SIM card and I plan on buying the Nexus 4, but I know the lack of 4G LTE will be a dealbreaker for those already on Verizon’s network. If you were planning on buying the Nexus 4, does the lack of 4G LTE change your mind? Will you switch to a pre-paid carrier to get the Nexus 4 at launch, or will you stick with your current carrier and wait on another device?