Thursday, October 31, 2013

Finally, a smartphone Google can call a flagship phone: The Nexus 5

As anticipated, Google unveiled its new version of Android on Thursday, Android 4.4 or KitKat. At the same time, the company showed off its new developer phone, the Nexus 5, which immediately became a hot seller.

How can we say it's a hot seller when we haven't seen any sales figures? Well, the device went on sale on Thursday, as of the time of this writing, 2:10 p.m. PT, the 16GB model is already sold out. The 32GB model is still available.

Meanwhile, Nexus 5 auctions are already appearing on eBay, with BuyItNow prices double that of the MSRP.

The device is fully unlocked, and is sold at the bargain basement price (for an unlocked phone, that is) of $349 with no contract for the base 16GB model. The 32GB version is priced at $399. Both are available in white and black. In the U.S., it will work on all carriers except Verizon, which is a strange choice considering a) the ties that Android devices like the Droid and successors have to Verizon, and b) the fact that Verizon is the nation's no. one wireless carrier.

Google tried to soften the news by asserting it still has a strong relationship with Verizon. It also hinted at several projects tied to Verizon that it was working on for 2014.

Unlike the Nexus 4, the 5 supports LTE. It's equipped with a Snapdragon 800 processor running at 2.3Ghz which, by comparison, is the same processor as in Samsung's recent (new flagship) Galaxy Note 3. It also sports a 5-inch display with 1080p resolution with Gorilla Glass 3.

The battery is not user-replaceable, but is 2,300 mAH. The Nexus 5 also comes with 2GB of RAM. 1.3MP front-facing and 8MP rear-facing cameras supply the visual support. As with the Nexus 4, it does not appear the device has a microSD slot for added storage, though.

Speaking of cameras, though, reviews have dinged the Nexus 5's camera support. We expect this to be resolved with a ROM update, though.

Also like the Nexus 4, the phone is built for Google by LG. In this case, it's based on the LG G2, which has gotten good reviews overall.

All in all, this is a great device for Google's new developer phone. However, the lack of Verizon support is disappointing.

Google said that, although the device is only available at its own Play Store for now, it will eventually come to Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, Best Buy,, and RadioShack.

As far as KitKat goes, Google said that the new version will provide a smarter, more immersive Android experience to even more people. The question is, when, as Android updates are notoriously slow to reach devices, aside from Nexus devices. Oh, and BTW, Google said 4.4 will not be ported to the aging Nexus S.

Google said it did quite a bit of optimization on 4.4; it that with KitKat, they have reduced Android’s memory footprint by doing things like removing unnecessary background services (yes) and reducing the memory consumption of features that are constantly in use.

With that, Google said that Android 4.4 can run comfortably on devices with only 512MB of RAM. That memory size is popular in lower-cost devices, which is a segment that Google continues to dominate.

With that, Google said that Android 4.4 is built to work well for next billion Android users. Google announced that Android had reached a billion activations in September.

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