Is Google subsidizing the price of the $299 LG Nexus 4?

.

As part of our review of the Google Nexus 4, one of a game-changers we noted was its seemingly impossible $299 price for the 8GB model ($349 for the 16GB model).  With a beautiful 1280×768 IPS Retina-quality display, insanely fast Qualcomm s4 Krait chipset with 2GB of RAM, 8 megapixel cameras and beautiful design, it is clearly a high end flagship phone.

Phones with those specs typically run in the $500-$700 range unsubsidized and the lack of a LTE chip in the Nexus 4 isn’t likely to drop the price down too terribly much.  Certainly not cut it in half.  Could Google be throwing in a few bucks to make this phone cheaper?  Certainly the Galaxy Nexus before it was a bargain at $349 but it had a significantly cheaper pentile display, less RAM, and an older generation chipset with a midrange 5 megapixel camera.

It isn’t easy to find non-subsidized prices in the US phone market but low-price prepaid carrier Virgin does offer phones at retail prices. Have a look at their higher end Android phones:

.

The Motorola Triumph is an over a year old 4-inch single core phone that got lackluster reviews. It currently sells for $279.99 unsubsidized. The $299.99 HTC EVO V is a rebrand of the EVO 3D which is almost two years old and was discontinued from Sprint when it moved away from WiMAX almost a year ago. Both of these phones are in a whole other league (Busch) than the Nexus 4.

T-Mobile, which will also sell the Nexus 4 on its website and at its stores, will offer the device in the following configurations:

  • Paired with a qualifying T-Mobile Value voice and data plan and two year service agreement, the Nexus 4 will cost an out-of-pocket down payment of $199.99 with 20 equal monthly payments of $15 per month via T-Mobile’s Equipment Installment Plan (EIP). The Value plan paired with EIP is offered at T-Mobile retail stores.
  • Customers can also purchase the Nexus 4 at T-Mobile retail stores and online for $199.99 (after a $50 Mail in Rebate) qualifying T-Mobile Classic voice and data plan and two year service agreement.

The $199 + $300 in monthly payments comes out to $500 for the same phone Google is offering for $350. The $199 with two year plan is the same price that other high end phones like the Galaxy S3 or even iPhone 5 cost on other carriers. That seems to imply that T-Mobile isn’t getting the Nexus 4 for the same $299 price…or they are adding a serious margin.

What tipped me off to the disparity wasn’t just T-Mobile, however… Read more

Review: LG Nexus 4 — a world class smartphone for $300

Honestly, when I heard the Nexus 4, the long-rumored LG entrant into the Google-phone legacy, was going to come sans LTE, I almost threw in the towel. After all, the last version, the Galaxy Nexus, is equipped with LTE in its Verizon and Sprint incarnations. Is this a step back?

In my experience, not at all. This is the best Android phone ever made. And, for many purposes, it is the best phone I’ve ever used. It is almost a no-brainer to hit the buy button once you add that it only costs $299 for 8GB or $349 for 16GB.

But, before you do, let’s talk hardware:

Read more

IDC: Android is now on 3 out of every 4 smartphones sold

IDC is out with its latest report that covers the top six smartphone operating systems by shipments and market share during Q3 2012. In the study, IDC found Android on nearly 75 percent of all smartphones shipped during the quarter, giving Android 136 million units of the 181.1 million total smartphones shipped during Q3 2012. That accounts for 91.5-percent year-over-year growth, beating out 57.3- percent year-over-year growth for Apple, and an average market growth of 46.4-percent. Apple shipped 26.9 million iPhones, in comparison, giving the company 14.9-percent of the market in the third quarter. Samsung is once again the top Android vendor:

Android, having topped the 100 million unit mark last quarter, reached a new record level in a single quarter. By comparison, Android’s total volumes for the quarter were greater than the total number of smartphones shipped in 2007, the year that Android was officially announced. Samsung once again led all vendors in this space, but saw its market share decline as numerous smaller vendors increased their production.

iOS was a distant second place to Android, but was the only other mobile operating system to amass double-digit market share for the quarter. The late quarter launch of the iPhone 5 and lower prices on older models prevented total shipment volumes from slipping to 3Q11 levels. But without a splashy new OS-driven feature like Siri in 2011 and FaceTime in 2010, the iPhone 5 relied on its larger, but not wider, screen and LTE connectivity to drive growth.

Android 4+ surpasses a quarter of install base

Google updated its Platform Versions website last night to reveal Android 4.x is now on 28.5-percent of devices.

Ice Cream Sandwich officially released to the masses over a year ago, but it is only powering 25.8-percent of Android smartphones and tablets. Jelly Bean, the following Android OS that launched in June 2012, has a meager 2.7-percent of the pie. Meanwhile, in third place, the two-year-old Gingerbread sits comfortably with a 54.2-percent share.

Fragmentation is clearly still an issue with Android, but it seems the slow adoption of the latest OS is just as alarming. A new iteration of Jelly Bean, Android 4.2, will launch in roughly two weeks, but the first version has hardly made a dent. Of course, Google’s new lineup of Nexus products may give Jelly Bean’s share a boost. We will just have to wait and see, though.

Read more

Google Wallet leak reveals an actual Google Wallet card (Gallery)

AndroidPolice just posted screenshots of a leaked version of Google Wallet, but the most notable tidbit does not concern the app at all: Google plans to launch a Google Wallet card.

The card acts and looks like a typical credit card, but it stores many credit cards into one, shiny piece of plastic. It also works practically everywhere. According to the screenshots, users order the Google Wallet card from their Google Wallet app for front-door delivery.

AndroidPolice noted the significance of a physical Google Wallet card:

The other important implication? The physical Wallet card could make carrier approval for Wallet a thing of the past unless you want to use tap payments. Google could publish a version of the Wallet app without NFC permissions that just allows you to switch between your cards, that could be installed on any phone (even iOS or Windows Phone, theoretically), and you just use the Wallet card for payments. That’s pretty cool. And could seriously reduce the chance of rival mobile payment systems of catching on. Google really does seem to have thrown a wrench in the works of the likes of ISIS and other competing systems.

As for the Google Wallet app, it will soon feature a “Wallet Balance” option for depositing or withdrawing money. Users will also have the ability to transfer money from person to person. Availability for these latest Google Wallet features only seem to hint at the Unites States, for now, but stay tuned for more.

A screenshot gallery is below.

Read more

Google Wallet integrates with retailers’ mobile websites to offer secure 3-step check out

Google Wallet now stores payment information, like debit card numbers and billing addresses, for retailers’ mobile websites.

Shoppers normally need to enter “17-20 fields of information” on mobile websites, according to the Google Mobile Commerce team, while having to “click and scroll through multiple pages to provide shipping and billing information.” Apparently, roughly 97 percent of mobile shoppers run from the check-out process and abandon their shopping carts.

The Google Mobile Commerce team just explained, however, that Wallet users can now check out more safely and quickly in just three simple steps: click the Buy with Google Wallet button, log into Google Wallet, and then click to complete the order.

Google Wallet is currently integrated with Finish Line, MovieTickets.com, Seamless, SwimOutlet.com, etc., to enable three-step purchasing on their mobile websites. For a limited time, Google Wallet users can also get $10 off at 1-800-Flowers.com and $20 off at Rockport.com (some restrictions apply).

Additional Google Wallet features (via the Google Commerce blog), include:

Read more

Sprint’s quad-core LG Optimus G now on pre-order for $199 with contract

AT&T’s LG Optimus G

Sprint just announced customers could pre-order the LG Optimus G starting today for $199.99 with a new two-year contract or eligible upgrade.

So, what’s so special about this particular LTE Android smartphone? Well, it has a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor. It also features a 4.7-inch True HD IPS Plus display, 2GB of RAM, 32GB built-in storage, NFC, and a 2,100mAh battery.

Unfortunately, this powerful handset boasts the aging Ice Cream Sandwich OS. There is also no mention in the announcement of an upcoming upgrade. Take a look at 9to5Google’s hands-on review of the AT&T version for a full spec refresher.

Oh, but we must note the LG Optimus G’s cheese shutter. Yeah—you heard that right. The smartphone’s camera is voice-activated by words like “cheese” and “smile”—eliminating the need for a shutter button. Um, interesting?

AT&T folks should keep an eye out for availability too, as the competing Sprint carrier previously said it would open the pre-order gate Nov. 2.

Sprint’s press announcement is below. 

Read more

Google Earth 7 for desktops adds tour guide & 3D imagery

On the Lat-Long Blog today, Google announced it is making new features available in the latest version of Google Earth including the tour guide and 3D imagery it rolled out to the mobile apps in July. Google Earth 7 for the desktop now includes “comprehensive and accurate tours of more than 11,000 popular sites around the world, including our growing list of cities where new 3D imagery is available.” Google is also rolling out more accurate 3D imagery for new areas:

In addition, Google Earth 7 now includes the comprehensive, accurate 3D imagery we’ve already made available on Android and iOS for Boulder, Boston, Charlotte, Denver, Lawrence, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Portland, San Antonio, San Diego, Santa Cruz, Seattle, Tampa, Tucson, Rome and the San Francisco Bay Area (including the Peninsula and East Bay). And today, we’re adding more 3D imagery for a handful of metropolitan regions including Avignon, France; Austin, Texas; Munich, Germany; Phoenix, Arizona; and Mannheim, Germany.

You can download Google Earth 7 here. Read more

Google Translate updated with reverse translations, frequency indicators, and grouped synonyms

Google is updating its Google Translate service with a few new features today. Among the new features is grouped clusters of synonyms for easier viewing, and frequency indicators that mark translations as “common, uncommon, or rare”. Google also explained a new “reverse translations” feature:

Our users often tell us that they check our translations by translating them back into their original language. Reverse translations can distinguish translations of different meanings and reveal subtle differences among similar words. Each translation is now annotated with its most frequent reverse translations.

The new grouped synonyms will initially only be available when translating into English, but Google said more languages will be added soon. Google also described how the frequency indicators will work: Read more

Google Play Store carrier billing goes live for Verizon customers

We knew that Google Play carrier billing would be available “in the coming weeks” for Verizon customers when Google confirmed on Twitter earlier this month. Today direct billing is officially rolling out to Verizon users with the new payment option now available form the Google Play store billing page pictured above (via AndroidPolice). Direct carrier billing is already available to most other Android users in the U.S. on AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. No word yet on whether or not Verizon will employ the rumored $25 limit for direct billing. Read more

Google adds AMBER Alerts for missing children to Search and Maps

Google announced today on the Official Google Blog that it will now include public AMBER Alerts through Google Search results and Maps in coordination with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Google Public Alerts platform:

If you’re using Google Search or Maps on desktop and mobile you’ll see an AMBER Alert if you search for related information in a particular location where a child has recently been abducted and an alert was issued. You’ll also see an alert if you conduct a targeted search for the situation. By increasing the availability of these alerts through our services, we hope that more people will assist in the search for children featured in AMBER Alerts and that the rates of safe recovery will rise.

Google explained the alert could include information about an abducted child or additional details including “make and model of the vehicle he/she was abducted in or information about the alleged abductor.” It also said it is working with other organizations, such as Missing Children Europe and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, to roll out alerts to other countries as well. Google has partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in order to display the AMBER alert data: Read more

Samsung officially announces 4.65-inch Galaxy Premier

Today Samsung’s Ukrainian website posted official info for the Samsung Galaxy Premier (I9260), a 4.65-inch smartphone that packs in a 1.5GHz dual core processor, 1GB of RAM, Android 4.1, and a 720 x 1,280 Super AMOLED display (via Engadget). It also includes NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, a 2100 mAh battery, microSD, and a 8 megapixel rear and 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera. The Galaxy S III-looking device is set for a November release in Ukraine, but there is no word on a possible release elsewhere. Pricing for Ukraine works out to about $680. It also appears that it will be available in 8GB and 16GB variants. We’ll keep you posted if more markets are announced.  Read more