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Google Nexus 4 back on Google Play - but won't ship before Christmas

The Google Nexus 4 has finally returned to the Play Store in the UK, after the first batch of smartphones sold out in record time. However, those hoping to pick up the cut-price phone as a Christmas present will be disappointed to hear that units won't be shipping until January 2013.

The Nexus 4, which packs a quad-core processor, high-resolution display and the latest Android 4.2 Jelly Bean software, sold out within an hour of its launch and hasn't been seen since on the UK Google Play store. Rumours of supply issues spread, and while it appeared for ordering on the US version of Google Play - before selling out once again - UK customers have been left wondering if they'll be able to get their hands on one any time soon.

Google's answer: not really. The company has returned the Nexus 4, in both its £239 8GB and £279 16GB variants, to the UK Google Play store, but warns that orders taken now won't be fulfilled for an estimated four to five weeks - meaning that a pre-Christmas delivery is impossible.

The Google Play store remains the only place to buy a Nexus 4 at its headline-grabbing price level: although several UK networks, including O2 and Three UK, have units, they are selling them at a significant mark-up or with the requirement to sign up to high-priced and long-term mobile contracts.

Fans of Google's Android devices will be disappointed that the company appears to have so badly misjudged demand for its latest creation, while news that Apple's iPhone 5 is now back in stock for pre-Christmas delivery may have some customers pondering a switch to the iOS device.

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