Google Takes Beating For Lack of LTE In Nexus 4
As Many (Especially Apple Fans) Don't Buy Battery Excuse
Google's Nexus 4 was unveiled earlier this week
, highlighting how Google once again wants to bypass the carriers and will be selling the device directly to consumers (with the exception of T-Mobile, who'll offer a slightly subsidized version with a 2-year contract). That choice however came with one major caveat: Google's new flagship smartphone lacks LTE support. The device only supports HSPA+ speeds up to 42 Mbps, meaning it only really supports two major United States carriers: AT&T and T-Mobile. That's a definite competitive disadvantage for the iPhone 5, though Google's Android lead Andy Rubin tells The Verge
that the decision to exclude LTE was a "tactical" one, made due to limited LTE deployment:
Android head Andy Rubin calls the lack of LTE a "tactical issue," and cites cost and battery life as major concerns with devices that have to support multiple radios. "A lot of the networks that have deployed LTE haven't scaled completely yet — they're hybrid networks [...] which means the devices need both radios built into them," he said. "When we did the Galaxy Nexus with LTE we had to do just that, and it just wasn't a great user experience." But the reality now is that many LTE devices — including the iPhone 5 and the LG Optimus G, which shares common hardware with the Nexus 4 — use larger batteries and newer, more efficient chips to balance the power draw from LTE.
Some news outlets don't think the excuse holds water
, given that Apple was able to include LTE in their device while still keeping the unit small. While LTE being available on numerous frequencies also makes things complicated, that was also a problem that didn't seem to dissuade Apple. Essentially, some are arguing that Google simply didn't work hard enough to get an LTE model done:
Apple has managed to work inside the carrier subsidy model for 5 years and still ended up delivering LTE without mucking up its user experience. The real question is why Google is so beholden to the carriers. And the answer goes back to the very beginnings of Android, when Google gave up control in order to speed adoption of the platform....Google has to work outside of that system in order to ship something that they really love without compromising. That’s on them.
That said, HSPA+ is plenty fast for many people, and the benefits to having a direct-from Google device may outweigh the lack of LTE for many users. With a flurry of LTE deployments this and next year, lack of LTE isn't going to be a viable excuse for long, and an LTE version of the device will likely follow up in 2013.