Google Launches Nexus 5 With Android 4.4 On Board

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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The smartphone developed in partnership with LG goes on sale today at half the price of iPhone 5S

Google has launched Nexus 5, the first device running Android version 4.4 codenamed ‘KitKat’.

Made by LG, the smartphone is lighter and thinner than its predecessors, but features an almost five-inch HD touchscreen – the biggest on a Nexus handset to date.

Over the last few months, almost all of the information about the flagship device had already surfaced online through leaked store manuals and regulatory filings.

Nexus 5 is on sale now, priced at just £299 for a 16GB version – surprisingly reasonable considering its premium specifications.

LG back with a vengeance

Like all Nexus handsets, Nexus 5 runs stock Android version without any manufacturer or carrier modifications, letting its users enjoy the pure OS experience the way Google intended it. The device also features unlockable bootloader, making it more useful for developers.

Nexus_5_Front_ViewThe screen is capable of 1920×1080 resolution and is protected by Gorilla Glass 3. Inside the rubberised plastic case, users will find the latest 2.3 GHz Krait 400 quad-core processor on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC, alongside 2GB of RAM. The storage options are limited to either 16 or 32GB, with an SD card slot notably absent.

Being a premium device, the Nexus 5 has full support for 4G and NFC communication.

The smartphone can capture images and HD videos with the 8 MP rear camera featuring optical image stabilisation, or 1.2 MP front camera. The ‘rapid burst system’ allows users to take several photographs at the same time and pick the best shot, while HDR+ helps take better images in low light.

Nexus 5 weighs just 130g, and ships in either black or white. Like the other Nexus devices, it will be the first in line to receive future Android updates.

According to Gartner, LG is currently the world’s third most popular smartphone brand, with 3.8 percent market share. The company was also responsible for the previous Android flagship, Nexus 4.

Sweet like chocolate

Android KitKatAndroid KitKat was a surprise – until a few months ago, Google was thought to be working towards a more thorough re-imagining of the OS, codenamed ‘Key Lime Pie’.

Version 4.4 is bringing a number of interface improvements including a transparent launcher, redesigned status bar, brand new dialer which can also look for the contact details stored in various cloud services, a wealth of new ‘emoji’ characters and a clearer typeface.

“The first thing you’ll notice about KitKat is we’ve made the experience much more engaging: the book you’re reading, the game you’re playing, or the movie you’re watching—now all of these take center stage with the new immersive mode, which automatically hides everything except what you really want to see,” wrote Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps.

Pichai says Android 4.4 can run comfortably on just 512MB of memory, improving performance on cheaper, low-end devices. Google hopes this will increase the appeal of the OS for the next billion smartphone users in the developing world.

The new version has slimmed down and lost several bundled applications, which can be downloaded from the Google Play Store instead. It puts more focus on Google Now service and voice commands, which are now available all the time, without the need to press a button first.

In the coming weeks, KitKat will be rolled out to Nexus 4, 7, 10, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One Google Play edition devices.

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