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New Nexus 4 – Day 2

January 17th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments
This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Nexus 4

Yesterday I received my new phone, wiped it, updated the OS to Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat, rooted it, and installed a custom recovery (TWRP).

This morning I dropped by my local T-Mobile store on the way to work and completed the process of getting my phone working. The first step today was to get a SIM card that actually fit in the phone. I probably could have bought a cheap cutter on EBay and cut my own card down to size, but it’s actually hard to find a mini to micro SIM cutter. There are plenty of full-size to micro cutters, but few, if any, mini to micro cutters. I also figured that a trip to T-Mobile was in order so they could verify that my IMEI was truly clean, and that my old data plan actually supported LTE.

The young woman at T-Mobile was both totally competent and extremely efficient. I walked in, told her I wanted to activate a new phone and needed a SIM, and she had me walking out with a working phone in less than 10 minutes. Oh, and they didn’t charge me a thing. I’ve been a T-Mobile customer for close to 10 years and I have honestly never had a bad customer service experience.

I walked out of the store with 4 bars of “H” or HSPA+ service. My next task was to add a hybrid radio to enable LTE. Again, although one could flash hybrid rmodems the old fashioned way, someone has already built a toolkit to automate the process. It worked pretty well, but I did discover a very slight bug in the toolkit which prevented the flashing of the most recent hybrid modem version. The toolkit developer fixed that bug within hours thought and released a new version to the Play Store.

So after the flash, I saw the “4G” icon on my screen and I was able to do a speed test, which gave me 20 Mbps up and down. Not bad, but certainly nothing close to the advertised LTE speeds. But – there are several different modem revisions to try and one of them may perform better. Plus this test was done at 10:30 in the morning in downtown Boston where there were likely a lot of users sharing bandwidth. And finally, even though this phone has an LTE radio, people believe that because it wasn’t intended to be activated, the antenna wasn’t made in the most efficient fashion. So it might never perform as well as a phone designed with LTE in mind.

But nonetheless, I bought a used phone on EBay for $200. The phone was as clean as advertised and was able to be rooted without issue. I added a custom recovery and some hacks to enable a crippled LTE radio. And what I have is a very well built, high- quality Android phone with LTE speeds and the latest Kit Kat software for $203.50. That’s not bad at all.

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