When Google and LG announced the Nexus 4 last October, it seemed almost too good to be true. Here we had a 4.7-inch 1,280 x 768 pixel display Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) smartphone running on a quad-core Snapdragon CPU with 2GB RAM, 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, beefy 2,100mAh battery and NFC thrown in to boot. And all this for just $349 in the (admittedly cramped) 8GB version, or $399 for the 16GB model. Sure, it didn't include 4G LTE or microSD expansion, but if you could live without these things - and most people can - the Nexus 4's price positioning was delightfully out of left field: a premium-end smartphone delivered at around half the regular cost.
And people noticed. The phone sold out almost immediately on Google Play (literally within hours of becoming available) and months later the web site still indicates that the Nexus 4 is out of stock. In the interim, the stock shortages - which are not restricted to Australia - have made tech news around the globe, with both Google and LG calling each other out over why exactly the phone is a needle in the hay. (A limited quantity of devices have been available through smaller-channel distributors, but at markedly higher prices.)
Which is why it may come as a relief to hear that the Nexus 4 is finally returning to Australian retail through Harvey Norman, which has opened pre-orders for the smartphone and will start selling the device on February 1. The catch? Harvey Norman is selling the 16GB unit only, and that model will set you back $496. That's close to $100 more than what the exact same model was selling for on Google Play three months ago (admittedly, only for one day), although it's also less than what other sellers have been charging in the meantime (we've seen it at $570). Harvey Norman will also sell the device on Optus plans.
We've reached out to LG and Google for more details and will update if we hear back.
UPDATE: An LG representative told TechLife: "The change in price reflects the added costs required to sell a product in store; such as staffing, distribution, point of sale and other marketing assets. We have received a positive response to Nexus 4 in Australia and are excited to add another outlet for purchase."
What do you think: is the Nexus 4 still a great catch at $496, or does the price hike take the phone off your wishlist? Let us know in the comments.