I was pretty baffled this morning when LG and Google officially announced the Nexus 4, the new flagship Android 4.2 device, without support for 4G LTE networks. But it’s starting to make sense to me why the company didn’t include it. You see, Google needs its Nexus devices to remain bare bones Android and without any carrier intervention, that way it can keep them updated to the most recent version of Android as soon as possible.

If you remember, Verizon and Sprint’s Galaxy Nexus smartphones, which do support 4G LTE networks, didn’t receive the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update as quickly as the international and unlocked models did. That’s because the software needs to be approved by the carriers first. Google’s Andy Rubin, head of Android, recently explained to The Verge exactly why the company, and LG, left LTE out of the Nexus 4.

“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,” Rubin explained to The Verge, noting that it was purely a “tactical” decision and that, even though the Galaxy Nexus supported 4G LTE, it wasn’t a “great user experience.”

That’s only part of the story, too. Because Verizon Wireless, for example, has certain “open access” rules on its 700MHz spectrum, which means it should allow Google to update the software on phones running in that frequency band. However, Verizon still requires testing and certification, even after Google fought with the FCC to change that.

“Tactically, we want to make sure the devices are available for every network on the planet,” Rubin explained to The Verge. Leaving it as an unlocked device means customers will be able to buy it and use it on more carriers around the globe than if it only supported 4G LTE. If it did, then Google would have to create multiple devices for support on various 4G LTE networks instead of a simple HSPA+ device.

[via The Verge]