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Powerhouse Google Nexus 4 set for November launch

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(Read caption) The Google Nexus 4 smartphone.

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Google yesterday unveiled three new products: the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system, a ten-inch tablet called the Nexus 10, and a new smartphone called the Nexus 4.

We'll circle back to the Nexus 10 in a separate post. For now, let's concentrate on the Nexus 4, a handset with the firepower and looks to challenge both the iPhone 5 and the extremely-popular, Android-powered Samsung Galaxy III. 

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Mountain View is billing the Nexus 4, which is built by LG, as the "best of Google" – a phone packed tight with Google products, from full Gmail integration to the Chrome browser to Google Maps. For some folks, of course, that's going to be a little too much Google, but for anyone who spent long hours trying to suss out the intricacies of the Apple Maps app on the iPhone 5, it might come as welcome news indeed. 

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The specs on the Nexus 4 are pretty impressive: A 4.7-inch display – compared to four inches on the iPhone 5 – an 8-megapixel camera out back and a 1.3-megapixel camera out front, 2GB of RAM, and a jumbo Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor. The phone will be sold without a two-year contract through the Google Play store – $299 will get you an 8GB model and $349 will get you the 16GB model. Release date is Nov. 13. 

"For those of us in the US," writes JR Raphael of Computerworld, "the phone will work on either T-Mobile or AT&T with HSPA+-level 4G speeds; you'll buy the device outright from Google and then use it either with your existing plan or a new plan. You can also opt to use it with a prepaid smartphone plan – something I'd strongly suggest considering."

Raphael says T-Mobile will also sell the 16GB model for $200, with a two-year contract. 

So how does the Nexus stack up against its chief rivals? 

Well, the team over at Ars Technica has crunched the numbers, and staffer Andrew Cunningham predicts that the Nexus 4 will be "easily the fastest Android handset you can buy today."

And while the Nexus "doesn't always beat the Apple A6 in the iPhone 5, it's always very close in synthetic benchmarks," Cunningham adds. "Between the two, the iPhone's dual-core A6 may have the advantage in real-world performance, since not all apps will be able to take advantage of all four of the Snapdragon's CPU cores, but we need more real-world comparison time to say for certain." 

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