Google's (GOOG +0.7%) much-hyped Nexus 5 phone, developed with LG, has been officially launched. As rumored, the 5 has a 5" 1080p display, quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU, and an 8MP camera with optical image stabilization.
In-line with expectations, the 5 will sell for an unsubsidized $349 - an aggressive price point in light of its high-end specs, and one that could worry high-end Android leader Samsung (SSNLF, SSNGY). Unlike the Nexus 4, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile (but not Verizon) plan to broadly carry the 5 in their stores.
More importantly, Google has also taken the wraps off Android 4.4 (KitKat). The latest version of Google's mobile OS adds a dialer with integrated search - The Verge declares Google has "essentially built the Yellow Pages into its dialer app" - more pervasive Google Now push notifications, a revamped Hangouts app (previous) that acts as a unified voice/video/text hub, and integrated Web/local app search.
KitKat has also been optimized to run well on cheap Android phones with only 512MB of RAM, of which there are plenty in emerging markets. Thanks to Android's low-end/emerging markets boom, Strategy Analytics recently estimated Q3 smartphone shipments rose 45% Y/Y to 251M, and IDC has forecast full-year shipments will hit 1B.