Google’s Nexus 4 now starts at $199 — making a great no-contract deal even better

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At this price, it’s easy to forgive the Nexus 4’s its lack of LTE.

The Nexus 4, Google’s latest pure Android smartphone, now starts at $199 for the 8 gigabyte model (the 16GB version will run you $250). Google says the phone has also been discounted by 25 percent in other countries.

When it launched at $299 last year, the LG-built Nexus 4 was the best no-contract smartphone I’d ever seen. (New off-contract smartphones typically cost between $600 and $800.) It was elegant, well-built, and speedy. Its only problem? No LTE 4G.

That didn’t stop the Nexus 4 from being a popular smartphone among people looking for a crud-free Android experience, with the freedom to throw in new SIM cards at will. (And, honestly, the HSPA+ network speeds were probably good enough for most people.)

The discount could signify that a new Nexus phone is on the horizon. Rumors point to LG or Motorola building a larger “Nexus 5″ model for release later this year. There’s also more competition for this year’s Nexus phone: The recently released Moto X runs an almost-stock version of Android, and both Samsung and HTC have released stock Android versions of their flagship phones (the Galaxy S4 and HTC One).

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