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Way back in August, we had an inkling that the newest Nexus phone was on the way. Google cut the price of last year's flagship phone, the Nexus 4, and once it sold out, it never reappeared.
Then a man on Google's campus "accidently" held the new phone in a picture.
Then the manual leaked.
In fact, this might have been the most leaked phone of all time. The only mystery, for the last month, was when. Some said October 1. Others said October 15th (which just turned out to be some Google party in New York). Finally, rumors pointed to today.
Of course, Google (kinda) surprised everyone by releasing the phone yesterday, along with the newest version of its operating system, Android 4.4 Kit Kat.
Kit Kat on Halloween? We should've seen that coming.
Nexus 5: What's New?
Think incremental upgrades, in every possible way:
The two truly new features are the camera's optical image stabilization, which helps with shaky hands, as well as a reportedly improved camera sensor, though the 8 megapixel resolution hasn't changed, and the always-listening feature.
What's that? Creepy Google is listening? Yep, but it's a good thing (we think). Want to search for something or text someone? Say "Okay Google" from the home screen, followed by a command. You save the effort of tapping a button!
Why the Nexus 5 is Awesome
If we sound a bit underwhelmed, that's not completely fair to Google, who improved this phone in every single possible way. And it has a better screen and more RAM than Apple's flagship iPhone 5s, as well as comparable specs otherwise.
Here's the most important spec: this phone is $350 for the 16GB version, with no contracts or carrier locking. Apple's iPhone 5S is $250 with a two-year contract or $650 with no strings attached. In fact, as far as contract-free, carrier-free phones go, there is nothing anywhere in the same league, price and feature-wise, as the Nexus 5.
One more key fact: All Nexus devices are pure Google Android, with no bloatware, and are the first to receive software updates, straight from El Goog itself.
Should You Upgrade (or Switch)?
Gadget lust is a common ailment, but the answer depends on your current phone. For Galaxy Nexus (2011) owners, the answer is a resounding "yes," assuming they were satisfied with Android, as that phone will not receive an Android 4.4 update.
For Nexus 4 owners, like myself, if you need 4G LTE, then yes. I have Wi-Fi, at home, at the gym, and at the office. Beyond that, T-Mobile's semi-4G HSPA+ is way more than quick enough for music and web browsing. Those who aren't spoiled by constantly-present Wi-Fi may feel differently.
As for the question of switching from another phone, or from an iPhone, it's a matter of preference. But if you want to avoid contracts, possibly to venture into the world of cheaper-but-the-same prepaid phone service, you won't find a better deal.