Google has had to put some confirmed orders for the company's sought-after Nexus 4 smartphone on back order, even offering refunds to those buyers unwilling to wait for new stock.

An email sent by Google to some of those who thought they'd been lucky enough to get hold of one of the hard-to-get Nexus 4s, the search and mobile giant informed them of a three-week wait.

"Thank you for your recent purchase on Google Play. Due to overwhelming demand, your Nexus 4 is on backorder and is expected to ship within three weeks. We'll send you a notification when your order has shipped and will credit the shipping charges," Google said in an email sent to US buyers, published by Engadget.

"If you would prefer to cancel your order, please reply to this email and our team will assist you. Or you can cancel your order using our online tool," Google told no doubt disappointed buyers.

None of this bodes well for would-be buyers who fancy getting hold of the most powerful Android smartphone under £300 in the near future.

Meanwhile, unlocked Nexus 4 smartphones have been appearing eBay for prices ranging from inflated to seriously over-priced. One hopeful eBay seller has asked for £560 SIM-free, double the handset's original UK price and more even than an unlocked and similarly-specified Samsung Galaxy S3.

Google reportedly sold out of the Nexus 4 within minutes of the smartphones going on sale on 12 November, prompting a wave of cynical comment that the company either badly underestimated demand or was creating an artificial shortage for marketing purposes.

Whatever the explanation, it now appears that at least some of the lucky buyers that got hold of a Nexus 4 wanted the handset purely for its resale value.