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Nexus 4 may be nearing the end of its short, tough life

The Nexus 4 disappears from the shelves of two UK phone stores, stoking speculation of the model's imminent replacement.

Two mobile phone retailers in the U.K. stoked speculation this week that the Nexus 4 Android handset produced for Google by LG Electronics may be in its waning days.

If it is, it will have had one of the shortest life spans of a Nexus phone even in this era of short-lived handset models.

The move by Carphone Warehouse and Phones4U may have received more attention than it was due because of its timing and because it is related to a handset that's been a bad news magnet since its introduction last October around the time Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast of the U.S.

The retreat from the handset by the UK retailers occurs just before Google I/O, the company's big shindig for developers begins on Wednesday. As the fever surrounding such events increases, speculation crests and a juicy morsel like the move by the UK retailers is the kind of news on which product prognosticators can masticate mightily.

Moreover, the UK news fit nicely into the nasty narrative that's been dogging the Nexus 4 since its introduction.

Nexus 4's bumpy start

Following introduction, supply problems restricted availability of the device. Once available, shipping times were annoyingly long.

What's more, complaints began appearing on the Internet about misinformed and confused customer service reps.

In addition, customers griped about shortages in the much sought-after bumper case to protect the phone from life's bumps and bruises, and the handset's nifty wireless charger took nearly five months to appear in Google's online store.

Adding to the early supply woes was a report early in the year that LG had halted production of the Nexus 4 and had shifted its priorities to its own brand of future phones. That report was met with skepticism when it was initially posted, but was conveniently resurrected this week by Nexus 4 obituary writers.

It's very likely that the move by the UK retailers is being misinterpreted by Google watchers. Even Cnet's Eric Mack--who added to the speculation by reporting that online outlets for the Nexus 4 were drying up and that Best Buy was displaying a "Page Not Found" message in his browser when he searched for Nexus 4 at the big box store's Net site--admits the arrival of a Nexus 5 at the I/O conference Wednesday is unlikely.

"The smart money for next week's event in terms of smartphone releases is on something far more modest, like a 4G version of the Nexus 4," he wrote.

If that's the case, then we can expect the Nexus 4 to be with us for a little while longer.


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