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A handout image shows Google’s new Nexus 5 smartphone, which is manufactured by LG.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Google Inc. 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 Electronics Inc.

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.

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"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 [past] 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 e-mails 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."

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