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Google finally launches £299 Nexus 5 smartphone alongside Android 4.4 KitKat

Google has officially unveiled its next-gen smartphone, the Nexus 5, and launched an updated version of Android, dubbed KitKat.

The smartphone sports a 4.95in, 1,920 x 1,080 full HD IPS Corning Gorilla Glass 3 display with 445 pixels per inch. It runs a 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip, 450MHz Adreno 330 GPU, and will be the first device with Android 4.4 KitKat.

The Nexus 5, manufactured by LG, also includes a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and 8-megapixel rear shooter with optical image stabilisation.

"The advanced new lens on Nexus 5 captures more light for brighter night and sharper action shots," Google said in a blog post. "And with optical image stabilization, you no longer have to worry about shaky hands and blurry pictures. A new HDR+ mode automatically snaps a rapid burst of photos and combines them to give you the best possible single shot."

With a 2,300mAh battery, Google promised up to 17 hours of talk time, 300 hours of standby, 8.5 hours of Internet time on Wi-Fi and seven hours on LTE. If you need more, the Nexus 5 includes built-in wireless charging support.

There's 16GB of internal storage (actual storage will be less thanks to pre-loaded software) and 2GB of RAM.

The Nexus 5 is available immediately, unlocked and in black, for £299 via Google Play in the UK, Canada, US, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, and Korea.

Android 4.4 KitKat

The Nexus 5 also includes Android 4.4 KitKat, which Google said will be available on the Nexus 4, 7, 10, the Samsung Galaxy S4, and HTC One Google Play edition devices in the coming weeks.

With KitKat, the Nexus 5 will support the "OK Google" voice command option found in Motorola's new Moto X and Droid lineup.

Google also promised "beautiful full-screen album and movie art when your device is locked" with the ability to play, pause, or seek to a specific moment. An immersive mode also hides everything except what you really want to see, ideal for e-books. "Swipe the edge of the screen to bring back your status bar and navigation buttons," Google said.

KitKat includes faster multi-tasking, Google said, as well as "smart" additions to features like caller ID, which will match unknown callers with Google Maps listings, and a prioritised contacts list.

SMS, MMS, video calls, and other conversations will also be combined into one view via the Hangouts app.

"Android 4.4 is designed to run fast, smooth, and responsively on a much broader range of devices than ever before — including on millions of entry-level devices around the world that have as little as 512MB RAM," Google said on its developer website.

That's accomplished through memory management that streamlines major components. "Core system processes are trimmed to use less heap, and they now more aggressively protect system memory from apps consuming large amounts of RAM," Google said. "When multiple services start at once — such as when network connectivity changes — Android now launches the services serially, in small groups, to avoid peak memory demands."

Rumours about the Nexus 5 have been making the rounds for months, with leaked documents, photos, and even videos popping up on the web. Things really picked up in September, though, when the Nexus 4 was designated as "out of stock" on Google Play. This week alone, someone who got an early peek at the Nexus 5 conducted an "Ask Me Anything" segment on Reddit, while another person posted a video to YouTube, and two European blogs posted photos and specs.

The Nexus 4 made its debut this time last year, alongside the Nexus 10 tablet.