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Google's Nexus 5 smartphone finally revealed with no-contract price of $349

Nexus 5

Google finally pulled the trigger on their long-rumored Nexus 5 smartphone on Thursday, revealing a device repeatedly leaked in pictures, even from Google itself. The phone rivals today's biggest and best devices with a 5-inch screen, high-end processor and Android 4.4 KitKat — but it costs about half as much.

The Nexus 5 has everything we want in a big, powerful phone: 1080p screen (that's 441 pixels per inch, for those counting), 8-megapixel camera with image stabilization, a 2.3-GHz Snapdragon 800 processor, the latest high-speed Wi-Fi and so on. That puts it in the same category as "superphones" like the Galaxy S 4 and the HTC One, but while those devices cost $600 or more to buy outright, the Nexus 5 starts at just $349.

That's not much of a surprise, though it is pleasant: the Nexus 4 was amazingly cheap for its specs, and its successor continues that tradition.

Another bonus is that the Nexus 5 will be the first phone to ship with Android 4.4 KitKat. The upgraded OS offers improved battery life, a few new apps and a lot of under-the-hood improvements to make it work on low-end phones, not just the latest and greatest.

It even does all this without a serious change in size. Despite the screen being a full inch larger than the Nexus 4's, the Nexus 5 is only a few millimeters taller and is actually thinner. Chalk it up to almost a complete lack of bezel around the display.

What's the catch? Well, there's no MicroSD slot, for one thing, meaning you're stuck with the 16 or 32 GB built in (Google would rather have you back things up to the cloud, clearly). And the 2300mAh battery is definitely good, but could be better: LG's G2, with similar specs, has a 3000 mAh one.

You can order directly from Google, or go with T-Mobile; other carriers should be supported later (the hardware works with their wireless bands and channels), but none are offering it just yet. Whichever you choose, you'll want to go through the official Nexus 5 site.

Unfortunately, the immediate supplies seem to have sold out almost immediately at the Google Play Store, so you'll be waiting a few weeks for yours even if you order today. Keep an eye out for the phone at other retailers like Best Buy and Radio Shack — they may get a few units in inventory soon.

Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is