Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) unveiled its Nexus 5 Android smartphone, built by LG, which Google will sell unlocked starting at $349 for the 16 GB model. Google said the LTE-capable phone will be sold by Sprint (NYSE:S), T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), according to reports, but that the phone will not work on Verizon Wireless' (NYSE:VZ) network.
According to The Verge, Google's Sundar Pichai, vice president of Android and Chrome, confirmed that "the Nexus 5 will not be on Verizon." As The Verge points out, this is the second major Google device that appears to have been snubbed by Verizon; the carrier initially refused to support Google's recently announced Nexus 7 tablet, though Verizon subsequently promised to reverse that position at some point in the future.
Verizon's apparent rebuke of Google's recent devices is notable considering Verizon partnered closely with Google for the 2009 launch of Verizon's Droid line of phones, supplied primarily by Motorola. Verizon's Droid marketing push aimed to topple the growing popularity of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, then exclusive to AT&T, and dramatically expanded Android's profile in the United States.
However, according to The Verge, Google and Verizon may be looking toward a renewed partnership in 2014. Pichai told the publication Google is "working with [Verizon] on a set of projects for 2014." He didn't elaborate.
As for the Nexus 5, the phone combines cutting-edge hardware and software at an unsubsidized price of around half of what most current smartphones sell for. It also refreshes Google's Nexus line of smartphones in time for the holiday shopping season. Google's Nexus phones are intended to provide a "pure" Android experience bereft of operator and handset maker add-ons.
The Nexus 5 runs on Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon 800 processor and offers a 5-inch Full HD screen, wireless charging, 8-megapixel rear camera and 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, 2300 mAh battery and NFC. In North America, the phone supports LTE bands 1, 2, 4, 5, 17, 19, 25, 26 and 41, and in international markets the phone supports LTE bands 1, 3, 5, 7, 8 and 20. Google is selling the phone via its Google Play online storefront in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan and Korea.
In the United States, Sprint said it would sell the Nexus 5 for $149.99 with a contract starting Nov. 8. T-Mobile said it would begin selling the phone "in the coming weeks" and "at an affordable price," but the carrier didn't provide details. AT&T did not immediately respond to questions about its plans to sell the phone.
The arrival of the Nexus 5 also signals the availability of Google's Android version 4.4, dubbed KitKat. Announced last month, the latest version of Google's Android operating system sports a refined user interface and improved support for its Google Now service as well as voice search. Google also said the OS can run on phones with just 512 MB of RAM, which will allow Android phone makers to install the OS into low-cost smartphones.
As The Verge explained, Google Now, Android's search-based digital assistant, is now accessed via a left-to-right swipe away from the homescreen, and can now deliver information based on a user's location, or on sites visited frequently, or even TV shows a user likes. Google Now can now direct users straight to not only the appropriate website via a search query, but the right app. "Our mission," Pichai said, "is every time you pick up your phone, the information you want, in context, is right there."
Google's Motorola unveils Project Ara, focuses on customizing smartphone hardware
Xiaomi CEO: No plans to shift away from Android
Google urges patience on Motorola, which continues to bleed cash
LG unveils white Nexus 4, says it has no plans to produce a 'Nexus 5'