Nexus 4 teardown: Easy-open case hides LTE hardware surprise

Bill Detwiler shows you how to crack open the LG-built Google Nexus 4 and uncovers a hardware surprise inside.

Google's Nexus 4 offers a pure Android experience on an unlocked device, at a great no-contract price. It's also fairly easy to disassemble and hides a bit of a hardware secret inside.

Full TechRepublic teardown gallery: Cracking Open the Google Nexus 4

The Nexus 4 has a 4.7-inch IPS display (1,280x768-pixel resolution at 320 ppi), 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU, 2GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel main camera, a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, and it comes in 8GB and 16GB versions.

Bill Detwiler/TechRepublic

Given its hardware specifications, the Nexus 4 can definitely hold its own against other high-end smartphones. And with its support for NFC and wireless charging, LG's handset is even a step ahead of many devices. What the Nexus 4 doesn't have is LTE support -- at least not officially.

Overall, it's well-built, feels sturdy in your hands, and is fairly easy to take apart.

For more information on the Nexus 4, including real-world tests and pricing, check out Lynn La's full CNET review.

Cracking Open observations

  • Simple to open and disassemble: Once you remove a pair of clearly visible external screws (Torx T5), the Nexus 4's back cover comes off without much resistance. The internal screws can be removed with a Phillips #00 bit. My only complaint about the phone's construction is the copious amount of adhesive used to hold the battery in place.

Bill Detwiler/TechRepublic

  • Replaceable battery: Despite being glued down, the 3.8V, 2,100mAh lithium ion battery is replaceable.

  • Clean internal layout and modular components: The phone's interior has a straightforward design that makes removing internal components a snap. Also, many internal parts, such as the headphone jack and front sensor assembly, cameras, and Micro-USB daughterboard, are separate components and can be replaced individually.

  • Fused front panel, display, and internal frame: At one time, I criticized manufacturers for fusing a device's LCD panel to the front glass. If one component broke, you had to replace both. But having spent too much time removing tiny pieces of dust from between the two, I've changed my mind.

Bill Detwiler/TechRepublic

Bill Detwiler/TechRepublic

Bottom line
The Nexus 4 may not have the stylish design of Samsung's Galaxy S3 or the outstanding battery life of Motorola's Droid Razr Maxx HD, but it's a solid phone and one that's not too difficult to crack open. And at $299 unlocked without a contract, it's definitely priced right.

A more detailed version of this story was first published on TechRepublic's Cracking Open.

Read the full CNET Review

LG Nexus 4

The Bottom Line: While the LG Nexus 4 wins on internal performance and user experience, anyone shopping for an unlocked phone should consider a comparable LTE handset first. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Samsung Galaxy S III - 32GB - blue (Sprint)

The Bottom Line: Pumped with high-performing hardware and creative software features, the Samsung Galaxy S3 is an excellent, top-end phone that's neck and neck with the HTC One X. Unfortunately, it only runs on Sprint's 3G network for now. / Read full review

About the author

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.

 

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