It finally isn’t a fluke.
After months of accidental leaks, Google officially released the Nexus 5 Wednesday, the latest model of Google smart phones. The phone offers the same Google-quality specs and hardware, but combined with the new Android KitKat 4.4 operating system and availability on more carriers than ever before, the search-engine giant’s smart phone could make a splash.
On the hardware side, the Nexus 5 builds on the solid foundation Google’s phones have set before. Built by LG, the Nexus 5 has a five-inch, 1080p HD screen, a 2.26 GHz Snapdragon processor, all encased in a matte plastic back. The Google smart phone has an 8-megapixel camera, along with nifty features that correct small hand movements to make a less blurry photo, and better picture quality in low-light situations with fast-moving subjects. These camera updates could work well with Google’s recent additions to Google+ that focus on making, creating, and editing photo projects easier for its social networkers.
Android KitKat 4.4, the newest operating system from Android, was also debuted on the Nexus 5, and the results seem to speak to the future of operating systems. The interface is smooth and a bit translucent, with a lighter font and more visual space between apps, not unlike the new iteration of iOS 7. The Google specifications also add an extra sense of usability. Each device comes with Google Now, a search system that gathers data from your location and preferences to give you better search results, and Hangouts is now the default text messaging, calling, and video-calling app. Overall KitKat also uses less memory, which translates to faster performance, even on less-capable phones.
This new model of the Nexus is the first to be offered on three US networks: AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Previous models either only ran on a specific network or had limited capabilities between carriers, so this move could open up the Nexus 5 to a wider audience. Another key feature is the price. Without contract, the Nexus 5 16GB starts at $350 and the 32GB starts at $400, which is far cheaper than other top off-contract smart phones on the market, like the iPhone.
Sundar Pichai, who is in charge of Google’s Android service, told USA Today that Google’s goal is to get Android into a billion peoples’ hand in 2014. This means tapping into developing markets. Google is targeting Russia, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Mexico, where Android use is growing at three times the rate of developed countries, he says.
KitKat, which uses far less memory, could be the key to bringing Android even into entry-level phones, and combined with the cheap unlocked price, this could be a key seller in rising economies.