The Google Nexus 5 and Android 4.4 KitKat finally got unveiled yesterday after months of rumors and leaks that had all but confirmed a lot of details about both products. The Nexus 5, which comes with Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box, is Google’s new flagship phone, and reports claim units have started shipping out as of yesterday, and that the device, regardless of flavor (color) or internal storage option, almost instantly sold out on the Google Play Store on its release date.
As a recap of what buyers can expect from the Google Nexus 5, it looks like all the rumored specifications that had emerged in earlier weeks have rung true. The device comes with a 4.95-inch display – no, not 5 inches, but 4.95 to be exact – that allows for a slightly higher pixel density (445 pixels per inch) than the average 1920 x 1080 display with a 5-inch screen. As mentioned above, the phone ships with Android 4.4, and it is powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor from Qualcomm. The processor is, just as rumored, mated to 2 GB RAM, and internal storage options are set at 16 GB or 32 GB. Not surprisingly, 16 GB versions appear to be bigger sellers on the Nexus 5’s release date; not only is this the base, and more affordable version, but most non-power users don’t need more than 16 GB storage space on a mobile device to begin with. Camera quality is solid but unspectacular at 8 megapixels, but the rear camera does include optical image stabilization as a key feature. Another solid but unspectacular spec is the 2,300 mAh battery – some argue that that may not be enough for most users, but to reiterate an earlier point, Google’s Nexus devices have always been upper-midrange phones that offer a lot of bang for the buck and vanilla Android out of the box, rather than devices designed for power users.
Speaking of offering stock Android with no manufacturer user interface on top, that’s one of the Nexus 5’s more defining features as usual, aside from the addition of OIS as a major selling point. The Nexus 5 supports both NFC and 4G LTE, as well as wireless charging for those who would need a device they can recharge while on the go and away from an electrical outlet. Pricing starts at $349 for the 16 GB Nexus 5, while the 32 GB edition costs $399. Both versions are available in black and white flavors.
As for availability of the Nexus 5, early indications suggest Google and OEM partner LG haven’t been as conservative with their demand estimates as they were with the Nexus 4. But reports also hint that Google and LG are running into supply issues on the Nexus 5’s release date; as of yesterday, the 16 GB Nexus 5 in black was sold out on the Play Store, and backordered by three to four weeks. That would put delivery estimates around the same time as Thanksgiving weekend. While other variants were initially available, the white Nexus 5 with 16 GB storage, the white 32 GB Nexus 5 and the black 32 GB Nexus 5 were next in order to sell out, with each variant backordered by three to four weeks as well.
While yesterday marked the actual release date of the Nexus 5, meaning the first date when customers can start purchasing the device on the Play Store, units will actually start shipping early next week, with some consumers expected to receive their devices on November 5. Rumors regarding a 4G LTE version of the Nexus 4 have yet to be confirmed, though once again, the Nexus 5 does come with both NFC and LTE as far as connectivity is concerned.
Also launched yesterday was Android 4.4 KitKat, Google’s newest mobile operating system and the platform that powers the Nexus 5 out of the box. As promised, KitKat comes with its share of new features and improvements, starting with “Immersive Mode”, which has been described as Google’s fancy way of saying Android 4.4 can display everything that has to be displayed in full screen mode. This effectively removes visible navigation bars on top and on the bottom; the top bar is now translucent and customizable, which does give Android 4.4 a more immersive feel indeed. Also stressed by Google among KitKat’s new features was the ability to say the company’s hallmark “OK Google” command in order to launch voice search, send text messages, get directions or do a variety of other tasks on the Nexus 5, or any Android 4.4 device.
Of interest to owners of lower-end or older Android phones is the fact that Android 4.4 KitKat will be “designed to run fast, smooth and responsibly on a much broader range of devices than ever before, including on millions of entry-level devices around the world that have as little as 512 MB.” That means even entry-level devices would be able to run KitKat; in theory, single-core devices from as far back as 2011 may also be able to run on Android 4.4. What remains to be seen, though, is which devices would receive Android 4.4 and which devices wouldn’t; this new feature works for older and lower-end phones in theory, but Android support may be a different story altogether.
The above features are just a handful of the new ones making their debut on Android 4.4, but there are many more that users would be able to take advantage of when it starts rolling out. And that brings us to rollout timing, or release dates for the Android 4.4 KitKat version update. Yesterday, Google promised the standard “soon” when revealing update timing for the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. In tech parlance, “soon” is usually thought of as tech company double-talk for “to be determined”, and not “soon” in the truest sense, but Google typically updates Nexus devices before non-Nexus devices, so chances are the company means what it says and the above mentioned devices would get updated within the next few weeks. Also, phones released by Google subsidiary Motorola,such as the Moto X, Motorola Droid Ultra and Motorola Droid Maxx, should also be among the first to get Android 4.4, as inferred on a new tease on Motorola’s Google+ page.