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Google Announces Nexus 5 Smartphone

By Norman Chan

Finally, along with Android 4.4 KitKat details.

To almost no fanfare, Google has finally announced its Nexus 5 smartphone, which was first hinted at in early September with the Android KitKat reveal video. There's not much that leaks haven't already confirmed yet, but here's what you need to know. It's a 4.95-inch 1080p IPS LCD phone made by LG, with hardware similar to the LG G2 (meaning it has that 8MP rear camera with Optical Image Stabilization). It runs on a Snapdragon 800 at 2.3GHz, (Krait 400, with Adreno 330) and has 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM. Weight is reduced from the Nexus 4 at 130 grams (thanks to no glass back), which makes it lighter than the HTC One, but still heavier than the iPhone 5S. Like the HTC One, it has a 2300mAH battery. All the usual sensors and radios are here: NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Qi wireless charging. Biggest difference from last year's Nexus 4: it now fully supports LTE on GSM networks. (Another difference: no more gentle bevel in the screen's edges.)

The Nexus 5 is available now on the Google Play store. $350 for 16GB, $400 for 32GB (no microSD card support). Both unlocked and with radios for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint LTE. No Verizon support, as expected.

Along with the Nexus 5, Google has released more details about Android 4.4, AKA KitKat. On its platform highlights page, Google has listed key developer features introduced in 4.4, including low power sensors, improved printing support, a new memory management tool, and many others. One very notable change is the shift for Android's WebView (how it displays web pages when loaded in non-browser apps) from Webkit to Chromium. As Brian Klug at Anandtech has noted, there seems to be an emphasis on optimizations for devices with small amounts of RAM--eg. 512MB. This won't just help with entry-level Android phones (or older ones), but also wearables, including the rumored Google smartwatch. According to Google, KitKat will be available for the Nexus 4, 7, 10, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One Google Play edition devices in the "coming weeks."

Our Android expert Ryan Whitwam will have plenty more to say in his Android 4.4 KitKat breakdown and analysis coming later today.