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Google Nexus 5 Preview

Google Nexus 5 Preview

First smart phone with Android 4.4 "KitKat" is looking good

As a user of Google's previous Nexus smart phones, I was curious to see where the firm would take the platform for its third handset offering. Well, know we know: The Google Nexus 5 is bigger, better, and faster than its predecessors. But it retains the low-ball pricing of the Nexus 4, setting a new standard for what users can expect to pay for a high-end smart phone.

Google announced the Nexus 5 on Thursday and made the device available for sale immediately from its Google Play web site. I have purchased one and will write a more comprehensive review soon. This preview is based on the publicly available information about this interesting new device.

Here's what we know about the Google Nexus 5.

LG inside. Like the Nexus 4, the Nexus 5 is an LG device, in this case one that is based on the well-reviewed LG G2. (Before the Nexus 4, the previous Nexus device was the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.)

Nexus experience. Like other Nexus devices, the Nexus 5 offers a "pure" Android experience without any of the manufacturer specific additions that are common on Android devices purchased through wireless carriers. This is my preferred type of Android phone (or tablet).

Four versions. Google is selling four different versions of the Nexus 5, with 16 GB and 32 GB versions being offered in your choice of black or white. The bad news? It doesn't appear that the storage is expandable.

Price. The most impressive part of this device, perhaps, is the price: The 16 GB versions cost just $350—unsubsidized, without a contract—while the 32 GB versions are just $400. This is the same pricing Google used for the Nexus 4, but as you'll see this is a much more impressive device. Comparatively, an off-contract 16 GB iPhone 5C costs $550, and the 32 GB version is $650.

Unlocked. Like all other Nexus devices, the Nexus 5 is carrier unlocked and can be used with any wireless carrier that supports the network types that are compatible with this device. In the United States, the Nexus 5 will work on every carrier except Verizon.

Android. The Nexus 5 runs the very latest version of Android, version 4.4, codenamed KitKat. And it will always be up to date, as Nexus devices are the first to get OS updates.

Processors. Google's latest device utilizes a quad-core 2.3 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 microprocessor, which is an increasingly common option on today's high-end smart phones. The Nexus 5 also provides a 450 MHz Adreno 300 GPU.

RAM. The Nexus 5 comes with 2 GB of RAM.

Display. The Nexus 5 edges into phablet territory with a large 5-inch IPS display running af Full HD (1080p, 1920 x 1080) resolution. It's covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for protection.

Camera. While the main camera won't trigger any fear in the heart of iPhone 5S (let alone Lumia 1020) users—it's just an 8 megapixel unit with optical image stabilization, nothing special—it does offer a special HDR+ burst mode that could help. My hopes aren't too high: The camera in the Nexus 4 is terrible. (There's also a 1.3 mpx front-facing camera.)

LTE. While the Nexus 4 curiously did not offer LTE cellular networking (it topped out with HSPA+ 4G), the Nexus 5 corrects this problem and offers true LTE.

Networking. The Nexus 5 provides dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac), NFC (which the Nexus 4 also offered), and Bluetooth 4.0 LE.

Sensors. The Nexus 5 offers all the expected sensors—accelerometer, GPS, compass, proximity and ambient light, and gyroscope, but it also offers two mysterious new sensors: Pressure and Hall Effect.

Size and weight. The Nexus 5 is 8.59 mm thin and weighs 130 grams. That's a bit thicker and heavier than the iPhone 5S (7.6 mm and 112 grams, respectively) and a bit thicker than the Samsung Galaxy S4 (7.8 mm), though that device weighs almost exactly the same. With the bigger screen, it's no surprise that the Nexus 5 is bigger than its predecessor, but its also curiously 9 grams lighter. The Nexus 4 is not a heavy phone at all.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the Nexus 5 compares to its predecessor, but also the Apple iPhone 5S and Nokia Lumia 1020. More soon.

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