When the iPhone 5 launched a little more than a month ago, Android fanatics blasted Apple for being so late to the game with advanced features like connection to super fast LTE networks.Companies like Samsung even built entire ad campaigns around the theme, claiming Apple took too long to catch up to high-end Android phones like the Galaxy S III.
Today, Google has egg on its face.
Buried in the announcement of its new flagship phone, LG’s Nexus 4, is the news that the device won’t connect to LTE. Instead, the phone is stuck on HSPA+ networks, which some carriers still label 4G, but tend to run a lot slower than LTE.
So why no LTE in the Nexus 4?
The Verge interviewed Google’s Android boss Andy Rubin about the Nexus 4 prior to today’s announcement. Here’s the key nugget from The Verge’s report:
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.
A series of lame excuses.
Battery life? Cost? Hybrid networks? That hasn’t stopped the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S III from becoming smash hits.
What it boils down to is this: Google still doesn’t have the muscle to convince carriers to sell its Nexus phones right off the bat. And it’s not willing to negotiate with carriers to bring the best possible hardware to consumers.
There’s no getting around it, this is a big embarrassment for Google. Although the carriers are mostly to blame, the bottom line is that Google’s new flagship phone for the next year will be outdated hardware the moment it’s released.