Not all hardware is made equal, we’re all aware of that and while Nexus 4 owners will see an update to Android 5.0, they won’t be getting the full ride – at least when it comes to the camera.

Part of the Lollipop update was a new API to allow developers – and therefore users through apps – greater access to the camera, including full manual controls, as well as the option to output full RAW output in DNG format. But according to Google, these features won’t be available to Nexus 4 owners, with only the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 seeing the full support for Manual Controls and RAW format support. Nexus 9 owners are being left behind a little too, with only support for manual controls being brought to the platform.

In response to the request to bring the Camera2 API to the Nexus 4 on Issue 82219 on the Google Code Issue tracker, a Google employee responded by saying:

Unfortunately, the Nexus 4 will not be updated beyond LEGACY camera2 level support.

Its hardware and firmware were not designed to support the full feature set provided by camera2, including manual controls and DNG support, and such support cannot be added retroactively to it.

The Nexus 5, 6 support all the major features of the new API; the Nexus 9 supports manual controls, but does not support DNG.

Whether non-Nexus devices support the new camera2 features is up to the manufacturers of those devices at this point; retrofitting camera2 support is a major effort, as it generally requires a near-total rewrite of the camera HAL module (essentially, the driver) for a particular device. We are certainly encouraging manufacturers to undertake that effort, but on many existing devices, the hardware simply isn’t capable of supporting features like burst capture, or RAW sensor output.

It’s a bit of a downer, but the phone is getting on in age, despite being one of the better looking Nexus phones released. The incentive for LG to revisit the hardware on the Nexus 4 is obviously quite low, but still, the possibility is there.

Do you own and currently use the Nexus 4? Are you looking at purchasing a new phone?

Source: Google Issue Tracker.
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Drew Ciccotelli

I have a white Nexus 4 that has been with me practically everyday since May of 2013. I primarily use it as a media player and camera, surfing and am not connected to a mobile network. I recently purchased a Nexus 5 knowing the end may be near for 4 support and increased hard drive space but without a doubt the 4 was and continues to be a treasure.

Jamie Saltmarsh

Hey Drew, how are you finding the battery life on N5 compared to N4 on lollipop? I too am still rocking an N4 as my daily driver since I sold my G Pro 2 and have been thinking about grabbing an N5 for my collection.

Drew Ciccotelli

I’ve still yet to open my Nexus 5. With the update to Lollipop my Nexus 4 is working just fine. My only conflict is my storage space, but with Google Drive I’m able to move it off the phone quick enough.

vijay alapati

My wife has n4….Everyone knows that the camera sucks in this phone…..don’t care if it gets updated or not….

Drew Ciccotelli

My Nexus 4 pictures do not suck. It’s how they are taken, not the power under the hood.

vijay alapati

Guess all the reviewers and other people like me are wrong. None of us are good in capturing pics. Well then we need a smart phone that takes good pics with no special skill since we are average users like many unlike photographers, but not a phone which need special skill to take good pics.

Drew Ciccotelli

Just stand still and focus on your subject and you can be a great photographer with any camera.

Drew Ciccotelli

You said it best, you are probably wrong.


RAW files are large, and the Nexus series has no microSD, so it makes sense that the N4 would not get the RAW file support, as photos would then make the device run out of on board storage, all the faster.