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Decoding Serial Numbers Reveals 370,000 Nexus 4 Smartphones Sold

Google and LG haven’t been particularly forthcoming when it comes to the sales figures for the Nexus 4 smartphone, but a little snooping around seems to reveal that somewhere in the neighborhood of 400k units have been shipped and sold. I’m sure that if they increased production, that number could be much larger given the current demand.

So, how did estimates arrive at this number? The endeavoring enthusiasts on the XDA Dev forums have worked to crack the meaning of the serial numbers of their Android smartphones. Just as you can figure out what each position in the VIN of a car can mean–in terms of chassis code, country of origin, and so on–the same can be said about the smartphone.

For instance, the first digit of the serial number on an LG-produced Nexus 4 reveals the year of manufacture. A “2” indicates 2012. The next two digits are the month, so “211” would mean November 2012 as the manufacturing date. This is followed by a letter, with K indicating Korea and C indicating China; that’s for where the phone is made. A little further down the serial number is a three digit code indicating the unit’s position in that month’s batch.

The XDA people put all this information together and they’re estimating that 70k units were made in October, 90k in November and 210k in December. That adds up to about 370k. It’s noteworthy that some people found their phone was manufactured after they ordered it too. TechCrunch has a little more of a breakdown of the serial number too, if you’re curious about your Nexus 4.

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About Michael Kwan

A freelance writer and tech geek from Vancouver. Find me at michaelkwan.com and follow me on Twitter @michaelkwan.

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