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The tale of the hidden LTE onoff switch

first_imgFor some reason I was under the mistaken impression that, like most other Android devices, the HTC Thunderbolt would get much less ink after it was released. After all, we’ve got dual-core whats-its and Tegra 2 thingamabobs on the horizon, and everyone is much more interested in those, right? It seems that, for many people, LTE is a pretty big deal, and an LTE phone is an even bigger deal.I’ll be honest, the speed offered up by a mostly empty LTE network is a thing of jaw-dropping amazement when you hold it in your hand. The trade-off for that kind of power? Wretched battery life. This isn’t new, either. The HTC Evo 4G, the first of HTC’s devices to operate on a “4G” network was offered up nearly a year ago with a very similar design to the Thunderbolt. The primary difference, aside from a better kickstand, is that the Thunderbolt does not have the ability to turn off the LTE radio to conserve battery life like the EVO does for Wi-Max. Or does it?It didn’t take long after the Thunderbolt was released for some kind of root/superuser access to be found. Once that happened, LTE on/off would be one of the first things done, right beside dumping all the excess app baggage. The Android market was quickly littered with “Root Only” LTE on/off switches, and anyone who has used a Thunderbolt in an area with no LTE will tell you that the battery life is tremendously better without it.One of these developers, however, stepped out and informed us that very little actually had to be done to get this feature, since it was there all along. Justin Case, an android hacker and modder, discovered that a switch to disable LTE was written right into the OS, but had been removed from view. According to Mr. Case, it took all of 4 lines of code to re-activate the switch and make it a separate app for access. The alterations to the code can be found on his public GitHub to see exactly how he accomplished this.This is the kind of event that leaves me in crazy conspiracy theorist mode. Did Verizon have this disabled intentionally? Earlier this week I published an extended review of the Thunderbolt where I witnessed the messy handoff from 3G to LTE, is this the quick fix to ensure that the handoff was well hidden? Or is this just another example of HTC’s sloppy “UI enhancements” covering up an important feature with Sense UI?For whatever reason, it’s not there, and thanks to developers like TeamAndIRC there’s a fix in the Market, and I am told that it will soon be accompanied by a widget for non-root users.last_img read more