Now it supports LTE, will Google's flagship smartphone get picked up by the likes of Telstra?
Google has officially released the Nexus 5 smartphone running Android 4.4 KitKat. It's a major update to last year's Nexus 4, but the inclusion of LTE mobile broadband is probably the most significant improvement. The lack of LTE support in the Nexus 4 meant it couldn't tap into Australia's new super-fast 4G networks, which can hit download speeds of 60 Mbps second. Instead Nexus 4 users were stuck on the highly congested 3G networks.
The Nexus 4 was as rare as hens' teeth for a long time, because it was the best value for money smartphone that money could buy – flagship hardware with a budget price tag. The Nexus 5 follows in that tradition and it's likely to sell out very quickly on Australia's Google Play store today, where it's available outright at $399 for 16 gigabytes (GB) or $449 for 32GB. The first batch of 32GB handsets has already sold out, with the delivery date now slipping from two days to two weeks.
Hopefully Google has ramped up production and put a few aside for Australia so we don't have a repeat of the frustrating Nexus 4 launch where we had to wait weeks for each new batch only to have them sell out in minutes.
We can expect the Nexus 5 to come to retail stores eventually, such as Harvey Norman's deal on the Nexus 4. This deal, in conjunction with Optus, was actually the only way to buy the Nexus 4 on a plan. Optus wouldn't even sell it to you directly. There's no indication of how long we'll have to wait for the Nexus 5 to be available anywhere other than the Google Play store. According to LG, which makes the handset for Google: "Further information on the retail launch date, operator partner, pricing and sales channels will follow on completion of local network testing." The Nexus 5 spec sheet indicates that retailers will only have access to the 16GB model.
As far as I know, no Australian telco ever directly offered the Nexus 4 on a contract. This might be due in part to animosity between Google and the telcos over the budget pricing and Google's decision to sell it direct. But the Nexus 4's lack of LTE was also a major drawback, especially for Telstra. It's keen to shift customers to 4G to ease the load on its 3G network, so it's obviously not keen to sell non-4G handsets. Now that the Nexus 5 supports LTE it was be interesting to see whether Telstra gets onboard, or whether its objection to selling the budget Nexus goes beyond simple network compatibility.
The official word from Telstra is:
Telstra always endeavours to bring the latest technology to our customers and is currently investigating including the Nexus 5 with Android 4.4, KitKat operating system in its range. Customers who would like to be kept informed can register their interest at www.telstra.com.au/nexus
Are you keen on Google's Nexus 5? Are you happy to buy it outright or do you want it on a plan?