The Nexus 4 is very popular these days – at least in the US. Starting at $299 for an unlocked phone, it’s considered “cheap” by US unlocked device standards. Unfortunately, someone over at Google or LG forgot to inform Europe that the Nexus 4 is supposed to be cheap.

Here in Norway, the Nexus 16GB (only model available) is being sold as a 4000 NOK device. The entire carrier/phone system works completely differently here, so that all phones can be (and often are) bought unlocked, phones are hardware-wise identical across carriers, and rules saying that a contract can be no longer than 12 months and that the total cost of ownership has to be listed. This means that people here follow a different logic than the US method of looking at the subsidized cost and nothing else.

Direct currency exchange doesn’t properly reflect the price, since there are economic differences between the US and Europe that makes things more expensive here to compensate for higher wages. However, if you were to run 4000 NOK through a currency converter, it would show 700 USD. A better comparison is to compare device costs. So, to put those 4000 NOK in perspective, here’s a list of other devices and their prices, all unlocked:

  • Galaxy S III: 3750 NOK
  • Galaxy Note II: 4400 NOK
  • HTC One X: 3500 NOK
  • iPad 4 16GB WiFi: 3900 NOK

This puts the Nexus 4 at being more expensive than the Galaxy S III and only slightly cheaper than the Galaxy Note II. I don’t know exactly where the Nexus 4 fits on this scale – in my opinion the lack of an SD card slot, the glass back, and the fact it’s made by LG basically makes it a 1500 NOK value device – but I think most people would agree that it’s not a device you pay more than a Galaxy S III for.

Another way of looking at it is to compare it with the recently released iPad mini. The base model is $329, square in between the 8GB and 16GB Nexus 4 models in the US. In Norway, the same iPad mini sells for 2600 NOK, which is a much more reasonable price. That puts it significantly above the Nexus 7 (1600 NOK and up) while still placing it lower than larger tablets, including the iPad 4. It also shows a completely different way of pricing the device for Europe than what Google and LG are trying to pull, and that by a company that operates hardware sales worldwide – which would indicate it has a slightly better understanding of things.

In the UK, the Nexus 4 doesn’t seem to be available in an unlocked variant, but is instead coming to carriers – and not as a bargain option. In Germany, the price is €350 for the 8GB model and €450 for the 16GB model from what I’ve been able to dig up, which is essentially equal to the Norwegian pricing. What seems to be similar across the line is that the Nexus 4 is not a budget device.

The same thing happened back when the Galaxy Nexus was released, and it essentially followed the Galaxy S II price curve. That left me with the choice of two different Samsung phones when I bought my phone, and I landed on the Galaxy S II because a higher resolution screen and NFC couldn’t compete with a better camera, removable battery, and an SD card slot. Now the Nexus 4 is left competing (in some markets) against a Galaxy S III that’s cheaper and has a better screen, expandable memory, and replaceable battery. It doesn’t exactly make for the most straightforward decision in the world, now does it?

I don’t know who is responsible for the ridiculous increase in price, but seeing as though competing retailers seem to land on the same price, I don’t think it’s their fault. I’ve seen a single Galaxy Nexus in the wild, ever, and it seems that the Nexus 4 might just become an equally rare sighting.