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Google's Nexus 4 available again online (at least in U.S.)

Don't blink, or it may be gone: Google's Nexus 4 phone, which sold out in December, is again available for direct purchase online from Google's Play store. The 8GB model goes for $299; the 16GB version for $349.

The flagship Android phone is sold unlocked and without a contract, which is part of its appeal (and the slightly higher pricing).

 The only U.S. carrier that sells the Nexus 4 under contract is T-Mobile, where it will cost you $199 for the 16GB version with a two-year commitment. You can use the unlocked Nexus 4 on T-Mobile or AT&T.

The phone, with a 4.7-inch screen, is a collaboration of Google and LG, "representing the pinnacle of Android hardware and software," wrote NBC News' Wilson Rothman recently in reviewing the phone. 

He described it as much better than the highly touted Samsung Galaxy S III. The Nexus 4 "runs smooth as butter, and has a vibrant screen that is second to none."

Despite that, the phone's "deal breaker," he said is that if it "represents the finest example of an Android phone — and I feel that it does — then why isn't it available on all carriers, and on the fastest 4G networks?"

With that limitation in mind, to get the phone directly from Google, head over to Google Play. Once you order, the phone should ship in one to two weeks, Google says.

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