Nexus devices are largely sold out this holiday season. Supply can't meet demand, particularly the new smartphone. But one Google gadget is missing altogether, pulled before official sales started. I've got Nexus Q, and you should be able to have one, too. The entertainment device is quirky, but I like it. Surely there is stock sitting around in some warehouse somewhere. Sell it out, Google. Give geeks something else to clamor for and recover some of the development and manufacturing costs.
The sphere-shaped device is a remarkable product, and changes fundamental concepts about digitally-delivered entertainment. Users stream music or movies from the cloud, using Android smartphone or tablet as remote control. The approach solves a fundamental end-user problem with digital content: Simple sharing.
Jelly Bean may be the youngest member of the Android family, but it’s also enjoying some amazing month-on-month growth, based on the number of devices accessing Google Play during the 14 days ending December 3. It still has some way to go to match Gingerbread though, which is yet again the green droid ruler.
On November 13, the search giant introduced its latest sugary treat, Android 4.2. Three weeks later, the new version of Jelly Bean had claimed a distribution level of 0.8 percent, a number aided by Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 sales, and Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 upgrades. That growth however, pales in comparison to 4.1 Jelly Bean which is now found on 5.9 percent of green droid devices, an increase of 118 percent when compared to the previous figures released in early November.
Well that was fast. Little more than two months after Apple launched the iPhone 5 in nine countries, the Cupertino, Calif.-based software corporation offers its latest smartphone free of any carrier obligations. Pricing starts at $649 for the 16GB model and tops $849 for the 64GB version.
The models that Apple offers are actually unlocked GSM units, meaning that using either of the three available versions on a CDMA network such as Verizon Wireless is not possible. For the advantage of owning a carrier-free iPhone 5 prospective buyers have to shell out an additional $450 for the equivalent version available at major US carriers such as AT&T, Sprint or Verizon.
Just three days ago Google released the Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean update which now recognizes that December and Santa Claus do exist. Today the Mountain View, Calif.-based corporation updated the factory images for the Nexus 4, 7, 10 and HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus with the latest version of the green droid operating system.
Using the factory images the four Nexus devices can be directly upgraded to Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean, build number JOP40D, without waiting to receive the over-the-air update. In similar fashion, green droid modders can take advantage of the factory images to restore the devices to stock after previously using a custom distribution such as AOKP Jelly Bean Milestone 1 or CyanogenMod 10.
Nexus 4 is no longer "sold out" at Google Play, and I can't help but laugh at the store's idea of "ships soon". That's "8-9 weeks" for the $299 model. Exactly how is that not sold out? Basically, Google throws out hope to the hopeless. Still, from a marketing perspective, long wait is better than telling potential buyers the product is out of stock. Meanwhile, people place orders and get somewhere in the long queue.
Yesterday, Google resumed Nexus 4 sales after selling out within hours of taking orders on October 13. Like that day, the search giant struggled to take orders, with many buyers watching orders be cancelled in the shopping cart. But the persistent succeeded, often after several hours effort. Today's wait time is more about when devices ship rather than ordering them. Expect "4-5 weeks" on the 16GB model.
If you're one of the lucky few Google Nexus 4 or Nexus 10 owners around the world that prefer a third-party ROM to Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, then you're in luck. Today the team behind the popular CyanogenMod custom distribution released an official CM10.1 build for the LG-made smartphone, with another on the way for its tablet sibling.
The CyanogenMod 10.1 build for the Nexus 4 comes in response to unofficial custom distributions, that recently surfaced, built using the former's source code. The first release available to the general public is based on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, rather than the newest version issued yesterday. However a missing December in the People app is unlikely to hinder its success considering CyanogenMod's popularity among the modding community.
The LG-manufactured Nexus 4 is nearly perfect. Unless you have no other choice, perhaps because of unsupported cellular carrier and binding contractual commitment, put Google's newest smartphone at the top of your must-buy list. The device satisfies in all the right places -- battery life, call quality, display clarity, size and visibility, operating system and performance. There are other Androids with comparable or better hardware, but they typically slap on a secondary UI and ship with older OS. It's not the measure of one attribute, or even a couple, but many combined that make Nexus 4 so good.
But nearly isn't perfect. Nexus 4's flaws, while subtle, will be serious for some potential buyers. There is no 4G LTE, for example. The feature is built-in to the Snapdragon processor but not properly enabled. The phone is HSPA+ for data, which works on GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile USA. No LTE is a deal-breaker for some people, as seen in commments here and elsewhere. Something else: LG copied Apple, which put glass on the back of iPhone 4 and 4S and rightly abandoned the design with the newest handset. Double-sided glass makes the phone less durable than should be, particularly if dropped. Finally, many Galaxy Nexus users won't find its successor to be a compelling upgrade; much depends on what they use their phones for.
At 9:24 am ET this morning, I received surprising email from Google: "Nexus 4 will be available for purchase later today! Order yours from Google Play starting today, November 27 at 12:00 noon PST (US only)".
Sudden availability follows shipping notices many people who had placed orders previously received yesterday. The question: Can Google Play handle the orders this time? Another: Will you get a phone?
Two weeks ago, Google launched Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, the latest treat in the candy jar. In addition to delivering a number of improvements, the new operating system also introduced some software issues. As a response to this, the Mountain View, Calif.-based corporation started rolling out the Android 4.2.1 update for the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 on Tuesday.
The most notable mishap in Android 4.2 is the missing month of December in the People app. This bug caused quite a controversy around the interwebs, with plenty of sarcasm and humor directed towards Mountain View for dismissing Christmas.
Google's attempt to sell the Nexus lineup on its own Play Store could be considered a failure. The company appears to be unable to keep up with the high demand, and as a result devices are mostly sold out all over the world. In order to prepare for that one moment when sufficient stock exists there is a website that checks global Play Stores for Nexus device availability.
Google Nexus Devices World Availability Checker keeps track of all Nexus 4 (including black bumper), 7 and 10 units sold in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, United Kingdom and United States. The website allows users to verify whether a particular device is available in stock at the local Play Store in the above mentioned locations. The advantage, over manually checking, is that prospective buyers are not limited to their regional online store, and can look up international availability, which comes in handy for those that want to shop abroad.
I can see only one good reason to choose iPhone 5 over Nexus 4: The LG-manufactured mobile is sold out, and you can't wait. For the patient, Google's fourth-generation stock Android delivers rewarding experience. The new Nexus is the smartphone to buy this holiday season -- if you can find one.
Two reasons stand in iPhone 5's favor, neither is good, just necessary for some people: Your carrier -- for example, Sprint and Verizon in the United States -- isn't supported (Nexus 4 is GSM/HSPA+), or you bought heap loads of apps from Apple and don't want to lose your investment. I feel your pain, but offer no pity. Nexus 4 is exceptional.
That's not the headline I hoped to write this Black Friday. Having used iPhone 5 and Nexus 4, I easily recommend the LG-made Android over the Apple. There simply is no comparison in terms of overall user experience. I'll go into detail in my comparative review, which I'm writing now (in another browser tab). Nexus 4 should be deal of the day -- even full price. Not that you can pay the price. It's simply abominable that Google has none to sell; T-Mobile is sold out, too.
Trust me, if there was even whiff of supply, Nexus 4 sales page would read "ships soon" rather than "out of stock". The smartphone's Black Friday absence suggests deep shortage, unless someone at the top of Google's retail supply chain thinks Cyber Monday is better day to bring back the smartphone. Absolutely not. Because over the next three days, some buyers wanting Nexus 4 will take a hot deal on some other handset.
There is a heated discussion surrounding the lack of LTE on the Google Nexus 4 -- my college Joe Wilcox deems it problematic, while I'm far less affected on the other side of the pond. But there's more to it than meets the eye. Fast data speeds are not out of this world on the Nexus 4 with LTE found working on Roger and Telus in Canada.
The Nexus 4 is similar to the LG Optimus G in the hardware department, but while the latter has a full-blown setup the former can only connect to LTE on Band 4. This limits the number of carrier networks that the Google-branded smartphone can utilize to achieve the higher data speeds. Rogers and Telus customers are apparently "blessed" by the recent discovery, as both can take advantage of LTE with only a few minor modifications. The bad news is that the hidden feature may be useless on other carriers that do not use the mentioned band.
US Thanksgiving is a time for reflection on the year behind, with plenty of time to ponder resolutions for January 1st. Yesterday, I posted about the things Microsoft should be grateful for in 2012. Today, I followed up with another, for Google. For consistency's sake, the list numbers eight, in line with Microsoft's, for which I chose to hat-tip Windows 8.
The list is by no means comprehensive, just some things that stand ahead of others -- and it is organized from least to most important. Google had a great year, perhaps the best ever. Few companies released more innovative products, affecting so many people and building such positive brand awareness.
The LG Optimus G is one of the most powerful smartphones available today, but sadly it's not the most modder-friendly device because it ships with a locked bootloader. Thanks to Project FreeGee that is no longer the case for the AT&T and Sprint versions of the South Korean smartphone that now have an unlockable bootloader.
The advantage is obvious for modders. With an unlocked bootloader owners of the AT&T and Sprint variants will be able to install Android Open Source Project-based distributions such as AOKP Jelly Bean Milestone 1 or CyanogenMod 10, once support is added. Another benefit comes from the Nexus 4 sources, which can be used to streamline the development process for compatible custom distributions, as the two devices share underpinnings.