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Google launches new Nexus 5 smartphone, announces HP Chromeback 11 for Canada

TORONTO – Google is marking the five-year anniversary of its Android mobile platform with the release of the new Nexus 5 phone, which is manufactured by LG.

The phone — which diehard Android fans had been expecting since some details previously leaked online — officially went on sale Thursday through the Google Play online store, starting at $349 for a 16-gigabyte unit.

“It was actually five years ago this month that we launched that adorable first Android brick called the G1,” said Google Canada spokeswoman Wendy Bairos during a product briefing.

“People just want things to work and they want it to look good and they want it to work simply and beautifully, and I think in the (last) five years we’re seeing that happen.”

Like Google’s previous Nexus phones designed in partnership with outside manufacturers, the Nexus 5 has top of the line hardware including: a 4.95-inch screen with a sharp 445 pixels per inch; a quad-core processor and two gigabytes of RAM; and an eight megapixel camera that’s driven by a significantly improved photo-taking app.

The phone comes loaded with the new version of Google’s operating system — 4.4, nicknamed KitKat — which will also become available for some other Android phones.

Google also announced Thursday that the new HP Chromebook 11 will be released in Canada on Nov. 8 for $299.

Chromebook devices are low-cost laptops designed for users who primarily use their computers to access the Internet and don’t regularly use sophisticated software. Google doesn’t market Chromebooks as full-blown laptop replacements and instead considers them to be ideal second computers for a household, since they’re fully capable of surfing the web, sending emails and watching online video.

“We’re working with retailers … to make sure that customers understand exactly the trade-offs they’re making,” said Caesar Sengupta, vice president of product development for Chrome and Chromebooks, noting he worked at Best Buy for a day to better understand how consumers are making purchasing decisions for computers.

“Most people are really not that technically sophisticated … if you see the broad variety of people using computers today and ask them, ‘What do you do?,’ they’ll say, ‘I go to Facebook, or I look at photos, I do some online banking, some shopping’ — the consumer use cases actually get addressed incredibly well by something like Chromebooks, that’s what we’ve designed for.”