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Nexus 4 Availability Expands, But Total Sales Unclear

T-Mobile restocks Google's hot Nexus 4 smartphone, but the device's "sold-out" status might not be as impressive as you think.

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One of the hottest smartphones during the last two months of 2012 was the Google Nexus 4. It went on sale Nov. 13 through Google's website and quickly sold out. In fact, it is still unavailable from the Google Play Store.

The Nexus 4 reached T-Mobile USA stores shortly after it went on sale from Google, but only in select locations. Availability has been hit or miss. That's about to change.

According to internal documents spied by TMoNews, T-Mobile USA is preparing to stock the Nexus 4 at all its stores later this month. The documents don't say when, exactly, the device's availability will improve, but the news is no doubt welcome to those seeking the hard-to-get smartphone from Google.

There are some key differences between the Google and T-Mobile versions of the Nexus 4. The Google version is sold for $299/$349 for the 8- and 16-GB variants, respectively. It comes without a contract and is unlocked. This means it can work on any GSM network around the world.

[ Learn why T-Mobile's new Bargain BlackBerry Betrays RIM's High-End Aspirations. ]

The T-Mobile version costs less -- $199 for the 16-GB version -- but it requires a two-year contract with T-Mobile. It also has some applications and services from T-Mobile that aren't part of the stock Jelly Bean experience offered by the Google version. Other features, such as the 4.8-inch HD display, 8-megapixel camera and NFC, are all the same.

Despite the sellouts and scattered availability, it turns out sales of the Nexus 4 may not be all that impressive. Google was crushed by an onslaught of Nexus 4 seekers during the device's first few hours of availability. It took only a few hours to sell through the initial supply (though we have no idea what that supply was). More devices were added to Google's website in late November, but Google sold through that supply, as well.

Google has not shared sales figures for the Nexus 4, but some point to total sales of less than 400,000 so far.

The number was arrived at by XDA mobile developer forum members who followed the production trail backwards. They used the IMEI number, or International Mobile Station Equipment Identity number, to discover when their devices were produced. When devices' production histories were pooled together, the XDA members were able to arrive at some estimates concerning Nexus 4 production.

They believe LG manufactured roughly 70,000 Nexus 4 smartphones in October, 90,000 in November, and 210,000 in December. (They don't yet have estimates for January for obvious reasons.) That means total sales of the device are in the ballpark of 370,000.

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