The curious case of the disappearing Nexus 6

For a moment the page changes, the default "out of stock" message replaced by an estimated shipping date. Quickly, you move your cursor across the screen and hit the order button, only to discover the device is no longer available. You close the tab. Better to try again later. This is the frustration many Brits have experienced trying to order a Nexus 6 from the Google Play store. One model (32GB, Midnight Blue) has been available there for just a few fleeting moments, allowing only the most eagle-eyed customers to complete a reservation. The rest have had to wait, or consider buying a unit from elsewhere.

Google first unveiled the monstrous Nexus 6 on October 15th, before kicking off US pre-orders two weeks later. Android purists in the UK had to stand by for a few weeks until it appeared in their Play Store at £499 for the 32GB model and £549 for the 64GB variant. Then, 12 days later, a wave of retailers and UK networks opened the pre-order flood gates. Surely a Play Store release was just on the horizon? Yes and no. Pre-orders went live for a few moments later that day, and only in the configuration mentioned earlier. Since then, it's been like playing reverse whack-a-mole -- there one minute, gone the next.

If you're exasperated by the spotty Nexus 6 launch, know that you're not alone. Google never gave a firm release date for the Android flagship, but these brief glimpses have been a tease for Nexus fans across the UK. Although the root of the problem is unclear, you still have a few options. The handset is available off-contract from Amazon and Carphone Warehouse; the latter is also offering the device with new monthly plans from Vodafone, O2 and EE. Finally, Vodafone customers have the option of ordering directly from the network's website. If you get in now, you'll surely have a new Nexus in time for Christmas.