I usually take apart smartphones I’m sampled just because I like knowing what’s inside, even if I already know the majority of component choices through other purely software means. In the case of the Nexus 4 this was also motivated by my desire to find out whether it would be possible to replace the battery easily and also to get a look at some of the RF components for cellular.

Taking apart the Nexus 4 is surprisingly simple, so much so that I’ve taken my Nexus 4 review unit apart fully, twice. There are two Torx T–4 screws at the bottom which come out, after which the back cage pulls off after you use a plastic separator tool to get past some clips holding it on. If you’re interested in replacing the battery you can pretty much stop here, there are two screws holding the battery connector onto the mainboard, and the battery is held in place with a square outline of double sided tape. The back side of the case has many gold pads for antennas, NFC, and the inductive charging coils.

Further disassembly involves removing the plastic covering the PCB, then a few screws and the mainboard lifts out. Construction here is very standard fare for smartphones lately, with an L shaped mainboard and battery sitting in the cavity next to it.

After you get the PCB out things are very easy to identify. I popped the EMI cans off wherever possible as well.

First off on the backside we can see the DRAM PoP atop APQ8064, which in this case is Samsung 2x32-bit LPDDR2–1066, 2GB courtesy of 4 x 512MB die at 1.2V. Below that is the Qualcomm MDM9215 baseband, to the left we can see the baseband PMIC (PM8821), and to the left of that the PMIC for APQ8064, PM8921.

On the long underside of the mainboard we can see the TI BQ51051b wireless power Li-Ion charger receiver I mentioned earlier, and above it Qualcomm’s WCD9310 Audio codec in a sea of epoxy. Inbetween those two is a BCM20793 NFC controller instead of the ubiquitous NXP PN544 part.

My main goal when taking apart the Nexus 4 was nailing down what power amplifiers and RF architecture the phone had, and under the EMI cans on this side are a few relevant parts.

There are three Avago power amplifiers, and an RFMD switch at left. We can see Avago A5505 (Band 5 - UMTS), A5704 (Band 4 - LTE/UMTS), A5702 (Band 2 - LTE/UMTS), and at far left an RFMD 1156 single pole 5 throw switch hiding under a lip of the EMI can.

Flipping the PCB over and removing the other large EMI can reveals more parts of the puzzle. I can identify an Avago ACPM–7251 (Band 1, 5, Quad band GSM/EGE) power amplifier, and another package near it marked “GFD49” which is probably another switch just next to the antenna feed for the bottom transmit antenna.

Nexus 4 also has the latest and greatest Qualcomm transceiver onboard, WTR1605L, which we’re going to talk at length about in another piece. It’s actually somewhat surprising to see the latest and greatest here considering the Nexus 4 doesn’t include LTE support, even though it does have the hardware for it on bands 4, 2, and 1 in theory.

Also under this can is the SlimPort ANX7808 which enables HDMI, VGA, DVI, or DisplayPort out on the Nexus 4 instead of the USB-MHL that we’ve been seeing getting adoption pretty rapidly. This is actually an interesting choice for the Nexus 4 considering again the relative ubiquity of MHL. I don’t have any SlimPort cables or dongles so I can’t test it first hand, but there’s the transmit package on the PCB that enables it.

I can also identify an InvenSense MPU–6050 six axis gyro and accelerometer at the very top of the PCB.

I couldn’t get the can off of what appears to be the eMMC (the only remaining large package), we’ll have to see if anyone else wants to do some destructive digging to get that one. Finally the Nexus 4 also has a linear actuator vibrator which you can see in the FCC teardown photos.

Display Analysis Cellular, Wi-Fi, GNSS
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  • Freedomuser - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    Not so fast. If the tests suite was intense like i think it's then even iphone 5 will get overheated.

    So, the question is, does any other phones in your chart survived the tests suite? LG Optimus G dropped out. Nexus 4 made it through with overheat. What about others on your chart?
    Reply
  • meloz - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    >>Not so fast. If the tests suite was intense like i think it's then even iphone 5 will get overheated.

    But in this test it did not. And in any benchmark in which iphone5 will overheat, the Nexus 4 will overheat and throttl even worse!

    I want Android and Nexus to do well, because they represent a more user-friendly (freedom) choice to iphone. But Google seriously need to address overheating, battery life and other such fundamental issues. Nexus 4 is a crappy device, at any price. I hope future software/firmware updates mitigate some of the problems.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    I don't care if this is the best phone ever, they've made a big mistake by missing out the microSD slot. Reply
  • Mugur - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    Just a small mistake in article: "First, audioflinger is set to 48 kHz which results in software resampling causing artifacts for 41.1 kHz source material.". It should be 44.1. not 41.1, I think... Reply
  • Mugur - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    Running a 3D game for one hour is one thing, but throttling in a benchmark does not look good. Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, December 24, 2012 - link

    Yeah...I wonder if tiny heatsinks in it would solve this, and become a norm as phone SoCs aim for higher and higher performance. Reply
  • cyberguyz - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    Seems Google has a problem with allowing the user to expand his storage beyond what they give you. Why is that?

    The phone comes with 16gb internal flash memory, but no way of expanding it. This seems to be a popular trend with all Google-branded Nexus devices (Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 tablet are the same). The lack of sdcard support in an Android device kills the ability to set up a Windows drive letter for it. Without that drive letter many popular programs like Calibre have an issue attaching to the device to manage things like ebooks (this is a real pain in the ass with my nexus 7!!). I for one like the freedom popping in another 64GB microSD card gives me.

    The lack of a removable battery also hurts this phone. I have hard experience with the life of li-Ion batteries losing capacity over time in laptops. Every couple years I have to get new batteries because the Li-Ion battery loses capacity until it cant keep my laptop alive for more than 20 minutes without dying. I like Samsungs because I can always replace the battery cheaply when it goes south and I don't have to send my phone (and private data) away for servicing to do it.

    Beyond these two (as I consider them major) gripes, this is a really nice phone.
    Reply
  • funky247 - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    With regard to the non-removable battery issue, most of the people I know don't like non-removable batteries because it limits their ability to whip out a backup battery when they need the extra juice while they're no the go.

    However, if the issue is with replacing the battery as it gets older, you can do it yourself! It even tells you how to do it in the review. You can buy authentic OEM batteries off of Ebay and do everything yourself, with the right tools. Some sellers will even ship the tools!
    Reply
  • cyberguyz - Monday, November 19, 2012 - link

    There are both of those issues with non-removable batteries.

    While the article tells you how to change the battery yourself, they do not mention that if you do that, you void your warranty (granted the warranty is gone after the battery goes south anyway). There are a lot of folks that cringe at the though of splitting open their $500-600 US phone to replace a battery.

    I for one don't keep a #4 torx screwdriver around.

    The ability to whip in a new battery in 2 sec without special tools in a vendor-blessed manner is a bit plus to me.

    Now if only Samsung (or anyone else - I'm not a brand fanboy) would put out an Android-based phone with quad-core Krait or A15, 2GB memory, 32GB expandable storage and user-replaceable battery, I would ebay my SG3 in a heatbeat and be all over it.
    Reply
  • Brandy123 - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    What I don't get is although the price and specs are very attractive for an unlocked: no contract phone, 8 or 16GB is really small by today's standards when there is no microSD slot! Google is obviously assuming you will be connected to the net 24/7 and streaming your music and videos via Google Play and other services. But then your data usage goes through the roof! Will this aggressive pricing force more carriers to offer truly unlimited data plans and more reasonable prices?

    Also, HPSA+ is fast enough for most, but lack of LTE is another compromise to get that good price. Yet it still is "the buzz" (note that the sellout time means nothing without knowing the number of units sold.)

    So maybe the other key to the popularity of this device may be that with the younger generation, their phone is sort of a status symbol to them. Who can wait 2-years for contract renewal to get a new phone? But who can afford a $900 iPhone with no contract? BAM - Nexus 4 - I can get the latest gadget with specs good enough to brag about, with no contract, and without having to eat Top Ramen for a month to afford it. Who cares it doesn't have enough memory to store my video, photos and MP3 collection. I'll put it all on the Cloud and run my data usage through the roof instead.
    Reply

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