Are you heading to a T-Mobile store searching for a Nexus 4?Evan Selleck - Contributing Editor
Carrier exclusivities are generally never a good thing. Unless it’s a phone that no one, not even the folks on that particular carrier, wants. In that particular case, I guess it would be fine. But more often than not, an exclusive device is generally pretty exciting, at least to one or two people out there. In the case of the Nexus 4, for example, it’s a pretty popular device. Fortunately, it isn’t really a carrier exclusive. Yes, T-Mobile USA is the only carrier selling the device with a contract, but Google and LG are also selling the device through the Google Play store. At least, they're trying to.
The bad news comes in the fact that the Nexus 4 is still sold out on the Google Play store. Yes, you read that right. It’s still unavailable. Both versions, too. There are those people who bought the Nexus 4 at the end of 2012, and are still waiting to get their phone shipped to them in the New Year. (I commend you, those of you who are still waiting. I couldn’t do it. You deserve a cookie for your patience.)
So, your options right now, if you really want to get your hands on a Nexus 4, are pretty limited.
This is something that Google absolutely has to fix in 2013. I would actually be okay with the company doing a very limited update to their Android platform, as Android 4.1-4.2.x Jelly Bean is a solid mobile operating system, if it meant that they did a complete overhaul to the way that they sell phones. The Nexus 4 by LG is a great device, a step up from the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (which was a fantastic starting point for the Nexus 4’s design elements), but the problem is that a lot of the people who would like to use the phone just aren’t able to.
Carrier exclusivities aren’t any fun, but just not being able to buy a phone is much, much worse. And what makes the whole thing odd, is the fact that T-Mobile stores are apparently getting a very small shipment of devices sent their way this month. While we got a confirmation of that earlier in the month, we saw today that at least one store is being sent only five phones. That’s hardly enough to respond to demand, which should be made obvious at how quickly the Nexus 4 has sold out multiple times.
The only thing that is working in T-Mobile’s favor at this point is the fact that the majority of people won’t know that they have any of the devices in stock. Store associates should be able to gauge a customer’s inclination to pick up that particular handset, instead of just tossing them out to all the customers who walk into their locations. Will five handsets last long? Probably not. But hey, five phones is better than no phones, right?
If you do choose to go with T-Mobile, and you plan on scouring your area to find a store that managed to get some Nexus 4 stock, you’ll have a couple of options: The first is the contract route, which will get you the phone for only $199.99. That is seemingly the cheapest way to get the phone with an up-front cost (but obviously the contract weighs that down in the other direction). But it’s not the only way to make the phone yours.
The other option is to buy the phone out-right, without the contract. If you want to go that route, which apparently a lot of T-Mobile customers choose to do, then you will be able to pick up the phone for $549.99. Still cheaper than other 16GB phones out there, but it’s certainly worth noting that it is $200 more expensive than what Google is charging directly from their Google Play store.
That low, off-contract price tag is obviously one reason why the phone has sold out so quickly. (Hopefully the device’s specifications have something to do with it, too.) I’m not exactly sure what to make of T-Mobile’s price increase in the same phone, without a contract. Yes, as I said the Nexus 4 is still cheaper than most other comparable devices available without a contract through carriers, but the off-contract price through the Google Play store isn’t a big secret. Far from it, in fact. If someone is looking for the Nexus 4 at T-Mobile stores, then there’s a good chance, if not absolutely certain, that they know how much the phone runs through Google’s online retail front.
But does that matter? That’s what I want to know. Is the phone’s lack of availability leading you to go into your T-Mobile location this month in search of the phone, with every intent on making it yours? And if so, are you going to buy it with or without a contract? Let me know, Dear Reader.