Apr 23 AT 8:31 AM Dustin Earley 29 Comments

Is Google really working on a 32GB Nexus 4 with LTE for I/O?

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Even though the Nexus 4 was released just some five months ago, the rumor mill is quick at work, spinning tales of new hardware set to be announced at Google I/O. Among the rumors that a new Nexus 7 will be announced, there is a recently surfaced rumor that Google is working on an updated Nexus 4 with LTE and 32GB of storage.

When Google released the Nexus 4, it was made perfectly clear that a lot of the things missing from the device were intentional. The lack of LTE and limited storage being the two most prominent issues picked at by practically everyone talking about it. Andy Rubin, then the head of Android, was quoted as saying the absence of LTE was, “tactical.”

The LTE situation across the globe is complex. To access GSM/HSPA+ speeds all over the globe, only a handful of frequencies need to be accessible to a device. The issue changes greatly with LTE, and even more so with America’s CDMA/LTE hybrid networks. If Google were to release an LTE device, how would it work?

Any LTE enabled Nexus device would most likely only work on one or two LTE networks. The most likely scenario would be Google releasing a revised Nexus 4 that works on AT&T and T-Mobile LTE. Rumors that an LTE enabled Nexus 4 would work on other carriers, or that it would include CDMA, seem far fetched.

While there is a sizable user base to be captured with CDMA devices in the US, the amount of negotiating, update hassles and AOSP headache needed outweigh the benefits. Right now, there’s simply no easy way to craft one device, and have it work everywhere.

The rumored Nexus 5, on the other hand, could be a totally different story. At Mobile World Congress this year, Qualcomm announced the RF360; A single chip capable of working on a staggering amount of networks. Everything from GSM, to EV-DO, to LTE. Unfortunately, it won’t be ready until the second half of the year. Or, right around the time when the Nexus 5 is rumored to launch.

If you were hoping to see the Nexus 5 at Google I/O, you shouldn’t hold your breath. Rumors on the Nexus 5 have been swirling for over a month now, but the timing is a bit off. Google still has a lot of life left in the Nexus 4, especially if this latest rumor comes true, and it’s updated with access to AT&T and T-Mobile LTE.

As for the Motorola X Phone, it’s hard to imagine it being tacked onto Google I/O. It’s totally possible, but if the Nexus 7 and an updated Nexus 4 with LTE are announced, along with Key Lime Pie, it’s highly unlikely Google would stuff the X Phone in there as well. Even more so if it really has been pushed back to August for release.

So, to answer the question, is Google really working on a 32GB Nexus 4 with LTE for Google I/O? It’s very possible. There was a refreshed Nexus 7 released, once Google had access to cheaper radios and storage, so that may be the case with a refreshed Nexus 4. Just keep in mind, the more you add to the rumor, the less reasonable it becomes. Supporting Sprint and Verizon CDMA and LTE, along with T-Mobile, who is the only official launch partner right now, and AT&T LTE doesn’t seem feasible. And releasing more than one new device, mid-cycle, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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