26
Aug
n4_7

Losing the cellular connection on your phone, even briefly, can be a potentially serious issue. It might come at the moment you need to call for emergency services, or when somebody is trying to call you. Today, we're going to talk about a pair of issues on the Nexus 4 that can send it into radio silence for as little as a few seconds, or as long as it takes for you to notice it.

The first issue is likely to have gone unnoticed by most users, unless they've set a PIN code on their SIM card. The symptoms are simple: from time to time, purely at random, the connection will drop for several seconds, then come back online. The reason a PIN code makes the issue so much more visible is that the phone refuses to reconnect until the code is re-entered after a lost connection, which the user is prompted to do when the screen is unlocked. Unfortunately, this can lead to the phone sitting without service for hours if its owner isn't regularly using it.

Only the Nexus 4 is affected, and only when it is running Android 4.3. Otherwise, it can happen on a phone regardless of mods, root, or custom recovery. Some people have also complained about rapidly draining batteries and increased temperature. However, one interesting theme emerged amongst the complaints; almost all of them came from European countries, particularly the Netherlands.

2013-08-26 00.02.50_framed

It turns out that the problem is actually a combination of two bugs, one in the Android framework and one in the radio software, each ultimately causing the radio to crash and restart. The bug in AOSP occurs when the Nexus 4 connects to a carrier network that supports MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). A quick fix for this crash has already been posted and is scheduled for a future release of Android, but Robert Greenwalt also points out that more changes are planned to fix some related issues. No details were given about what was wrong with the radio software, but the bug reports have been submitted to Qualcomm - and judging by the wording, it sounds like a fix is coming.

If you are suffering from this bug, there are some workarounds available today. To begin with, many people have been able to prevent this issue by setting the radio to 'WCDMA only' instead of the default 'WCDMA preferred'. Keep in mind, this setting will only last until you restart your phone, at which time it resets back to default. Here's how:

  1. Open your phone dialer
  2. Enter: *#*#4636#*#*
  3. Tap on 'Phone information'
  4. Find the 'Set preferred network type' dropdown
  5. Change the selection to WCDMA only

As an alternative, if you are comfortable with flashing firmware to your phone, the radio used in the Mako factory image for Android 4.2.2 does not contain this bug. If your Nexus 4 is already OEM unlocked, and you've already got the latest Android SDK installed, here's what you can do:

  1. Download and extract the 4.2.2 factory image from here
  2. In a terminal/command line window, change to the directory of the extracted image
  3. Attach your Nexus 4 to the computer with a USB cable (check it with 'fastboot devices')
  4. Enter: 'fastboot flash radio radio-mako-m9615a-cefwmazm-2.0.1700.48.img'
  5. Wait until the radio is flashed, then enter 'fastboot reboot'

Earlier, I mentioned a second issue which poses a similar problem for the Nexus 4. In this one, the phone loses connection with the cellular tower at the end of every single call, but it doesn't reconnect. This seems to be a very uncommon issue, as there haven't been very many complaints in the issue tracker, but there aren't really any details to make an educated guess about the cause. The good news is that Robert Greenwalt has also marked this issue as fixed in a future release. Judging by the mention that bug reports have been sent to the radio vendor, and at least one person has fixed the issue by returning to the 4.2.2 radio, this appears to be another oversight in the radio packaged with the 4.3 update.

IMG_20130808_065943

Both of these issues were first reported just a few days after Android 4.3 rolled out, and naturally you might wonder if the recent JWR66Y update might include a fix. I'm sad to report that it does not; the radio packaged with the recently refreshed factory image is identical to the one found in JWR66V. Both issues were only marked as fixed on August 19th, the day before JWR66Y began to appear in the wild, suggesting the updated code changes may have come too late to be included. This gives us another thing to look forward to with either Android 4.3.1 or possibly another incremental OTA like the one we just had.

[AOSP Issue Tracker #58317, #58495]

Cody Toombs
Cody is a Software Engineer and Writer with a mildly overwhelming obsession with smartphones and the mobile world. If he’s been pulled away from the computer for any length of time, you might find him talking about cocktails and movies, sometimes resulting in the consumption of both.

  • blahmoomoo

    I recently had a problem where my Nexus 4 dropped cell data completely (radio was grey, could still make a call) and I had to reboot it. But I was having it do Google Maps navigation and Bluetooth music for several hours (it gets quite hot doing that), so I think that was the real issue.

    I don't think I ever encountered these issues directly, but for those who do have these issues, I hope the fixes come out soon.

  • Himanshu mehani

    Even my nexus 4 has a network connectivity issue. What I have noticed is that the problem is with the back panel. Signal drops when my fingers are covering it and signal comes back when I remove my fingers.

    • http://www.jaxidian.org/update teh Jax

      That sounds like you need to RMA your phone for a replacement. That doesn't sound like it's the same thing as what these bugs address. If you can reproduce it perfectly (and with a signal that isn't super weak), then I'd be getting a replacement phone!

  • Hardtarget24

    I'm not confident this is a nexus 4 only issue, I just spent a week in New York City using t-mobile with my Galaxy Nexus and I was plagued my cellular disconnects every day that I could only fix by rebooting my phone. No idea what happened but something is definitely amiss.

    • arathkone

      The radio will randomly turn off and back on again on my Galaxy Nexus too, a couple of times a week for at most a few seconds. Didn't think much of it as the issue has been there for a long time. I suspect it's my provider. (Virgin Australia).

    • Simon Belmont

      That's weird. No issues with radio connectivity on my Galaxy Nexus on T-Mobile.

      In fact, I've noticed the signal to be slightly stronger since the Android 4.3 update. Just my experiences on the subject.

    • ShoomKloom

      Same here

  • Darrien Glasser

    Surprisingly nothing here, and I'm even running on T-Mobile LTE at the moment. It's strange because I'm usually stuck with ridiculous bugs that you'd find in the bible, but no. How odd.

  • Brenden Morris

    Glad there is a fix in progress! My Nexus 4 on T-Mobile, is having this exact problem!

    • Former-google-enthusiast

      You do realize Google always says "we're gonna do this soon" and they almost never make it happen? Like the standalone GDrive software for linux or the QI station for Germany or GVoice in Germany... It's been quite a while now and still no official statement/reaction... I used to be a Google enthusiast. :-( Two Nexus 4 phones...

  • Spasillium

    Been having this problem ever since I switched over to T-Mobile and using the LTE hack but only happens once per reboot.

  • dhruva

    hey google, with your next release why dont u release it in beta, give it two months, release the pdk for manufacturers, and use that time to iron out bugs..in the end release it officially for your nexus devices, and make sure motorola follows suit, others will automatically be forced...this way you can solve to a certain extent these flood of bugs that plague all the nexus devices for a few months, and the age old fragmentation. both arent healthy for the ecosystem.

    • Cerberus_tm

      I agree. As a Nexus owner, I only update to the latest version of Android several months after release for this very reason. Oh, and also because many, many applications usually cease to function properly once a new version of Android comes out. It takes a while for them to adapt, especially the smaller ones.

      • http://marstonhillier.com/ Marston Hillier

        ....bbbbut that's the point.... Nexus devices get the updates first so that developers can update their apps and make them work with the latest and greatest so that they're not broken for everyone else...

        • Cerberus_tm

          I...suppose you have a point...but still!

        • Ryan

          Nexus 4 isn't marketed to the public as a phone that is for developers to test stuff on. Joe Public think they are getting the best that Google has to offer - I don't expect Google's flagship device to have these kind of issues.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

        You may have the restraint, but that would put you into a profoundly small minority. Most people are in a desperate rush to get the latest version to try out any new feature that might be included. Even though 4.3 included very few new features or significant improvements (I expect N7 owners will have a different outlook), it's extremely common for people on non-Nexus devices to immediately begin complaining that it isn't on their phone or tablet already.

        I don't blame anybody for this, it's perfectly natural to want to play with the new toys. The issue is that the Nexus program is expected to wear too many hats, so to speak. Consumers expect a rock-solid, Google-supported device with near-flagship power and surprisingly low prices. Enthusiasts expect to get instant and immediate access to the latest features. Developers want something as early as possible - even if it's buggy or partially functional - to begin testing their apps for serious breaking changes. These three groups are basically at odds with each other. One demands stability, another demands speed, and then there's one in the middle demanding both.

        Ideally, Google should release Android versions with the model used with the Chrome browser. If there were a stable channel and a beta/"canary" channel, it might be a little more organized. I'm not convinced that regular consumers and enthusiasts wouldn't still switch to the beta on a regular basis, but we could all feel better when we told them to file a bug report and stop complaining :)

        • Cerberus_tm

          I mostly agree with your analysis. One thing to consider is that nobody would know if Google were to push back the release of, say, Android 4.4 a few months in order to test it more thoroughly among a larger but "secret" group of professional testers in different countries. You can't complain about the late release of something you know nothing about.

          However, I agree that a public beta programme accessible to anyone, just as with Cyanogen, is better: everyone has the *choice* to opt for stability over cutting-edge features, or the converse.

          As to prices, remember that Nexus phones are not especially cheap everywhere, only in countries where they are sold in the Play Store. In my country, the Galaxy Nexus was probably € 500 or so when it came out; the Nexus 4 was close to 500 as well. That's $ 670. Prices drop fast, but then so do prices of other phones; the Galaxy S4 is now about € 500 here.

      • Simon Belmont

        I wait a week or two (at most) usually. That way any major flaws are usually sussed out by places like AP and I hear about it.

        If nothing major is wrong, I take the plunge. Haven't been disappointed yet.

        • Cerberus_tm

          But...how about your applications? Many of them will still be incompatible with the new version...

          • Simon Belmont

            Haven't run into that issue so far. The apps I use always tend to be compatible between Android builds.

            There may be small tweaks here and there for new additions to Android, but nothing that's a deal-breaker. At least not for me.

          • Cerberus_tm

            Well, I've seen this happen a lot. One application even caused a boot loop between 4.0 and 4.1. Some others will malfunction or lose some functionality...and you will only find out after updating Android.

          • Simon Belmont

            Sorry to hear that. I figured it probably causes headaches for some people.

            I guess I've been lucky so far. I've been using Android since Android 1.5 Cupcake and never had an issue.

          • Cerberus_tm

            Wow, Cupcake, even? Chapeau! I only switched from Windows Mobile 6.0 to Android 4.0 last year. Yes, it was quite a change!

  • Janis Elfert

    O2 Germany, had this problem with 4.2 too. Really annoying, but my handset refused to connect completly until the next reboot.

  • CuriousCursor

    even when you select WCDMA only, it keeps changing back after some time >_<

  • Hans Gruber

    I've had the issue with my galaxy nexus (yakju) where it asks for a pin...at first i thought my phone might have had a random reboot (which it has done a fair few times since november 2011...along with lock ups/freezes) but i actually saw it happen while i was using the phone. So i dont think the first issue is nexus 4 only!

  • thisphuckinguy

    Not enough people in the Android camp to sift for bugs?

  • sidamos

    What about the effect that I lose the cell data connection while making a phone call? Isn't this also a bug? The data connection comes back after hanging up the call.

    • Greyhame

      Not a bug, but a limitation of the radio.

    • popoti

      not a bug, during a data connection, if you receive a call or sms, the RNC sends a paging request to the SGSN to let it know to stop the PDP context and then the MSC can take over for the voice.

  • timrcm

    I had TONS of signal dropping issues when I had a Nexus 4. It was one of the main reasons I got rid of it. The radio antenna on it seemed to SUCK compared to any other phone. I could be in a moderate (not poor) signal area in my office and my phone would be fine on my desk, but then drop signal in my pocket. It was dramatic and unacceptable. No other phone has been THIS bad for me, even Verizon's Galaxy Nexus (and we all know how piss poor that thing's radio was...)

    • blahmoomoo

      I have no problems with AT&T/NET10. Did you have T-mobile? If so, that could have been your problem, because they don't own any low frequency channels, which means poor building penetration. I switched services because of both that and lack of coverage when I moved.

      • timrcm

        I tried both T-Mobile and AT&T/Straight Talk with it. I tend to swap between the two of them depending on if I plan to do any traveling. Both had this issue. My new phone doesn't. I don't know, maybe I had a lemon Nexus 4, but it seemed like it wasn't FLAWED... it just had a crap radio. As long as I was outdoors or in a great signal area it was always fine.

  • RLegend

    Yeap, Since I up graded to 4.3 my cellular connection disconnects several times a day. I use light flow led / with the sound to inform (monitor) me when I do not have a cell connection. I just thought since I was using the LTE radio and there is no LTE amp that was the problem.
    This has been going on for a couple of weeks. I loose connection around 4 times daily but, It restores connection by its self most of the time. Hope they fix soon!

  • blix247

    Whats obnoxious is often the radio indicator will still be blue, and its completely offline.

    • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/ Ritesh

      This.^^

      Its f***ing annoying when that happens and I only find out when I'm trying to send an IM and it gets stuck on sending...

  • username_already_exists_error

    the default radio in 4.2.2 factory image is .48 and not .33

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      Thanks, fixed

      Somehow my image of JOP40C was mislabeled as JDQ39, that's where the .33 came from. Good catch!

  • QwietStorm

    It's not just my cell signal that's been weak lately, it's the Wi-Fi too. I usually hover at about 3 bars on both. Now I get 1 or none, and my battery has gone to shit. Sounds like I'm affected?

  • Angmancy

    I am getting more Screens of Death requiring reboot than this bug. Which I never experience thankfully.
    I hope Google acknowledges that one if it is a software bug after all and fix it.

  • James Marsh

    One of the workarounds you mention is to flash radio "radio-mako-m9615a-cefwmazm-2.0.1700.33.img" When I extract the JDQ39 Image I see radio "radio-mako-m9615a-cefwmazm-2.0.1700.48.img". Did you make a typo, or do you have even an earlier version 4.2.2 than the one in the download link?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      Sorry, yes, it was an error. Somehow an older image was mislabeled as JDQ39, and it included .33. The latest version of 4.2.2 was .48.

      My apologies for the confusion

      • KingRando

        Can .48 be installed if you're running 4.3? CM10.2

        Surprised a fix hasn't been released. I'm running .84 and I have the issue nearly the entire time I'm on wifi

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

          I haven't personally tried it yet, but I can't think of any reason why not.

  • Huton Gergö

    I can bigg batery drain after traveling much (Android OS) possibly swiching cells and when i stop for hours the Android OS (can be radio) still not leting phone going to sleep and keeping it awake

  • Mathias Kenting

    I have this problem on my Nexus 4 in Denmark. I thought it was my network provider.

    • Andreas Martin Mørch

      I must ask - I'm assuming I'm not allowed to speak Danish here - did you buy your Nexus 4 in Denmark? It costs like twice as much, so IMO it's quite a bad deal here.

      • Mathias Kenting

        Nope, that would be a very bad deal indeed. A friend in the US bought it from the Play store for me.

    • Mikkel Poulsen

      I just have this problem when I roam from Three to TDC and thereby going to Edge, it will not return to 3G/H+ unless I make manually search for network providers.

  • Nathaniel Webb

    I was seriously about to rage at my carrier for this- thanks for the info!

  • lycosman

    I'm having this problem as well (N4 running on Vodafone Portugal). At first I thought is was a network problem from the operator itself since their service is far from reliable in my living area (where I noticed it happening more frequently). But then I noticed I was the only one having drops on cell connection at home. I've tried the workaround #1 and it seems to be working for me.

  • Deusinvictus

    I was having this problem on my Nexus 4 back when it had 4.2, I don't think this is a 4.3 issue. I've seen it less since I got 4.3 but I've still seen it a couple of times.

  • Leonardo

    Same issue on brazilian nexus 4... Using Tim operator...

  • Peter

    I have this issue on Telstra in Australia, usually when traveling on the train. Wife does too.

  • habibi

    so almost ervery bug has been listed here with the nexus line and android 4.3. What about the ARP offload bug on the nexus 4 which causes delayed notification with a wifi connection. more information https://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=42272

  • Chris Sanner

    I have this issue. I never complained because I figured it was just crappy service in my area.
    so....yeah.

  • Phoenix

    I noticed this bug within the past couple of days. I was surprised to see that I needed to enter my PIN. I thought the phone had rebooted, but actually, it hadn't. I've also had a sleep of death recently - I honestly thought 4.3 had fixed that for me :(

  • hans

    Live in The Netherlands, don't have the problem. But rather had this with all my phones since 1996. There are places with hardly network coverage.
    Don't blame the phone (Nexus 4) but blame the real reason behind it. I am not naming it since that might offent people.
    The Nexus 4 is working very well here. Didn't have:
    1 WiFi problem
    2 Bluetooth problem
    3 Keyboard problem
    4 Signal loss

    To be honest all my Nexus are working well. Specially the present in use 4,7 and Galaxy (Android 4.3 as you can understand is neither like these devices the problem).

  • fantomphox

    Lol I had this issue, and the only thing i could think of was the radio. Downgrading the radio is the best solution. Only solution settings I live in a place where a good connection isn't really always happening.

  • Andrew Beard

    I experienced this a couple weeks ago, about three days before I got rid of my Nexus 4 and bought a Galaxy S4. As much as I loved the Nexus 4 hardware I could never shake the feeling I was more of a beta tester than a user. The ARP bug and lack of Bluetooth profiles were annoying, but when I completely lost service and didn't realize it one night (at a time when my wife was desperately trying to get ahold of me) the Nexus 4 ceased being a viable phone for me.

    I liked it when it worked well, but as soon as I lost trust in the ability of the phone to make and receive calls it had to go.

  • Kumar Soneta

    Hi , I am also facing same issue in mumbai, india. My phone network go off when i entered in office with nexus 4, previously i was using blackberry bold 3 and never face network issue in same office. I bought nexus 4 three days back and from last 3 days i am holding up network can any suggest some solution here ???

  • Cameron

    Thanks for the quick fix. Will be using it to cut down on my signal issues

  • Globe

    does changing to an older radio help with the 5ghz issues? many of us can't access our routers 5ghz band (tried the trick of changing the channel to 40 but still didn't work) since the 4.3 update.

  • slowpoker

    I have noticed radio issues with my nexus 4 (jwr66y) on tmobile. The hspa speeds seem to drop off after awhile. Only fix is a reboot, but then the problem will return after awhile. Goes from 13mbps after the reboot, then down to 400kbps after awhile. I have unlimited 4g plan, so there should be no throttling going on. Get your act together Google/T-Mobile!

  • angra89

    Thanks for the info, this problem was driving me mad

  • amulya

    hopefully google sends a fix out pretty soon.

  • ciro

    ive did the 1st but gsm only and it fix. no downfall of signal. wcdma only dont work for me. maybe its differ if u used data or not. wcdma is for data service or 3g. and gsm for 2g only not using data. it depends on what you use always... hope this will work.

  • ysan99

    F**k you google.
    After update to 4.3 my nexus 4 fails to lock to network automatically. I have to Airplane mode on/off several times a day to bring back the network. I can't even sale it because fucking play store is fire selling it.

  • rosanto

    I have the same bug on my nexus 4, i'll try this solution, but i noticed it with many version of android.

  • louis1

    I tried doing this and it worked it but after a week my signal dropped, I tried doing pretty much everything and it won't get service at all

  • xadro

    Unlike as stated in your article not only the N4 is affected. I have a razr HD here with exactly the same issues. It also has a qualcomm chipset, so this issue may affect all devices based on them. Will try out the fixes you mentioned. Thanks for the write up!

  • reinsmart

    Lost total network connection today. Dallas, Texas

  • Holland

    Check this forum out. It's the official bug fix site for Android (specifically the nexus 4). The google employee said to call the call center to file the complaint, otherwise google won't fix the problem till the next scheduled update.

    1-855-836-3987 is the US number. If your not in the US check out the nexus 4 website and find your local number.

    https://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=58317&can=1&q=nexus%204&colspec=ID%20Type%20Status%20Owner%20Summary%20Stars&start=200

  • Involver

    Well.. check my post on Google forums, there's plenty of users with the above issue https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/nexus/nexus-4/hC_tOSiFnWM

  • Lukasz

    Does anyone know if this issue appears in CyanogenMod as well?

    • Suresh Vasu

      yes, it appears in CyanogenMod also.

  • lannister

    Bonjour,
    Je possède depuis peu un nexus 4. Super téléphone, sauf qu'il perd constamment la connexion au réseau (forfait 19.99€). Si je vais dans parametres>réseaux mobiles>operateur de reseau> il trouve qu'il y a Orange F et si je lui demande de se connecter, j'ai un message d'erreur "impossible de se connecter à ce réseau"

    iphone 6 avec abonnement & nexus 5 prix

  • Wibbly Wobbly
    • sree2389

      I ve been facing the issue of network going from full signal to blank and it happens quite a lot of time in a day . I tried with Vodafone 3 g and airtel 3g both in india and the problem still continues . I got the nexus 4 with 4.2 and currently running 4.4 . the problem stays throughout 4.2,4.3,4.4 . I did try the *#*#4636#*#* but still no use ..

      Let me know if anybody got a similar problem fixed

      • http://www.ninetwozero.com Karl Lindmark

        I've had similar issues where my connection has been lost through-out the day. I usually hit *#*#4636#*#*, head over to Phone Information and toggle the radio off/on. :-)

        • Suresh Vasu

          Am also getting the same problem. I tried 4.2.1, 4.2.2, 4.4.2 with Airtel 3g in india. In my case, toggle the radio off/on is not working. Any help ??

  • ysan99

    I'm no longer facing this issue. I don't know what resolved it. I recently cleaned up my phone with Clean Master app; not sure if this helped.

  • Old Man

    FWIW, radio seems broken on Nexus 5 for Telstra (BOOST). It can also manifest itself when sending SMS text messages. Extremely sad.

  • LaPin

    I have the same issue with Huawei Ascend P6 - randomly loos the signal and after signal came back, the phone requires the PIN .

  • Level380

    Little bit late to the party, but my nexus 4 on lollipop is having this issue!? I can't beleive they still haven't fixed it!

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