In contrast to Apple, Google eschewed the usual new product event hype today as it released its its long-awaited new flagship phone and the KitKat upgrade to its Android operating system. The company says in a blog post that its Nexus 5 phone, made by LG, is available today online. While it has high-end specs — I’ll get to that in a sec — the big selling point is the price: $349 with 16 GB of memory, and $399 for 32 GB, unlocked — and before any subsidies from wireless carriers. (It’ll work with AT&T, TMobile, and Sprint but not Verizon.) The Nexus 5’s low price could make it attractive to people who’d prefer to buy their own phone and not lock themselves into a two-year contract with a wireless carrier. Consider that the iPhone 5s with 16 GB costs $649, and $749 with 32 GB, without a subsidy. As for the specs: The Nexus 5 has a 5 inch screen and is 8.59 mm thick. It’s powered by a Snapdragon 800, 2.3GHz processor. The rear-facing camera has 8 megapixels and Optical Image Stabilization, while the front-facing one has 1.3 MP. It’s also the first device to come with Android KitKat. The company says the operating system upgrade uses 16% less memory than the previous version. As a result it can “run comfortably on the 512MB of RAM devices that are popular in much of the world” and provide “a smarter, more immersive Android experience.” In the three months ending in August, 51.6% of smartphone users had Android devices vs 40.7% for Apple, according to comScore MobiLens.
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