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Google launches new Nexus 5 smartphone

Google showed off its next-generation smartphone, the Nexus 5, as well as the latest update to its Android OS, which is called KitKat, on Thursday.

The Nexus 5 is available Thursday on Google Play and starts begins at $349 for an unlocked device without a contract. The 32GB model is priced at $399. Soon it will also be available at multiple retailers including Sprint, T-Mobile, Amazon, Best Buy and RadioShack.

Google partnered with LG to develop the device, which is the slimmest, fastest Nexus phone yet.

Nexus 5
Source: Google
Nexus 5

The smartphone features a 5-inch full HD display, improved camera, a faster chip than its predecessor, and it runs on KitKat. It also has a talk time of 17 hours and standby time of up to 300 hours.

(Read more: Google launches new HP Chromebook for $279 )

A key feature of the updated Android OS is its improved memory capabilities.

"With KitKat, we've slimmed down Android's memory footprint by doing things like removing unnecessary background services and reducing the memory consumption of features that you use all the time," the company said in a statement.

"RAM [or memory] is one of the most expensive parts of a phone, and now Android can run comfortably on the 512MB of RAM devices that are popular in much of the world, bringing the latest goodies in Android 4.4 within reach for the next billion smartphone users."

Google is known for naming its mobile software after different types of desserts. Past names have included Cupcake, Donut, Honeycomb, Jelly Bean and now KitKat. Earlier this year the tech giant and Nestle struck a marketing deal naming the new software after the candy bar.

Nexus 5
Source: Google
Nexus 5

As part of that promotion, KitKat has launched a campaign to give away Google's Nexus 7 tablet and credit to the Google Play store.

(Read more: Android KitKat software revealed by Google, Nestle )

It was rumored that the tech giant would also unveil a new Nexus 10 tablet made by Asus and possibly even a smartwatch at the event, but the company stuck to revealing just the new smartphone and OS.

(Read more: Google smartwatch months away from production: Report)

Google hosted the media event Thursday at noon where it unveiled the new products, but embargoed the news until 2 p.m. ET.

(Read more: Google tied to mysterious barge in SF bay )

By CNBC's Cadie Thompson. Follow her on Twitter @CadieThompson.

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