'Pure Google' versions of leading devices from Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony and Motorola, sold unlocked from the Play Store
From mid-2013 Google has started offering a range of phones and tablets running "stock" Android through the Google Play Store in the U.S. In contrast to the company's Nexus devices, Google Play editions take an existing phone or tablet from one of the major manufacturers and give it "Google experience" software — the latest version of Android without any overt manufacturer customizations, and the promise of speedy updates in the future.
There are currently five Google Play edition devices on sale through the Google Play Store ...
The first GPe phone to emerge, announced at the Google I/O developer conference in May 2013 and released around a month later for $650. Samsung's stock Android device features the same hardware as the regular (Snapdragon 600-powered) Galaxy S4, with T-Mobile and AT&T LTE support. There's a 5-inch 1080p SuperAMOLED display, a 13-megapixel rear camera and 16 gigabytes of storage, backed up by microSD expandability. There's also a removable 2,600mAh battery, making the GS4 the only Google Play phone with a replaceable battery.
Check out our review for the lowdown on the GPe GS4. Buy now on Google Play.
The Google Play edition HTC One (M7) was announced shortly after Google I/O 2013 and released alongside the Galaxy S4 in late June, priced $599. This aluminum-clad beast comes with 32GB of internal memory but no removable storage and a fixed 2,300mAh battery. It's got support for AT&T and T-Mobile LTE, but not AWS HSPA+, potentially limiting its T-Mobile coverage. Hardware-wise, it's identical to the developer edition M7 sold by HTC, only with Google's software in place of HTC Sense.
Read our review of the GPe HTC One for more details. Buy now on Google Play.
The Wifi-only LG G Pad 8.3 was announced and made available to buy in December 2013 along with the Sony Z Ultra. The first GPe tablet to go on sale, the G Pad sports a metal back and Snapdragon 600 processor, along with an 8.3-inch 1920x1200-resolution display. Its $350 price tag puts it above the Nexus 7 — but that extra money gets you more screen real estate, more premium materials and a slightly faster CPU.
Read more in our Google Play edition LG G Pad 8.3 review. You can buy it now in Google Play.
Possibly the weirdest Google Play edition device of the lot, the Sony Z Ultra (don't call it an Xperia) is based on Sony's similarly-named 6.4-inch phone-tablet hybrid. It's small enough to fit in your pocket, but too large to use one-handed. But it did boast the most impressive specs of the GPe range at launch, with a Snapdragon 800 CPU and 2GB of RAM. It's a niche product for sure, but for those craving Sony's hardware design with Google's software, that device is finally a reality.
Check out our full review of the Sony Z Ultra for more details. You can buy one now from Google Play.
A slightly baffling addition to the GPe family, the Moto G was launched with vanilla Android in January 2014 at the same $179 price point as the Motorola version. Since Motorola's own software doesn't differ much from the stock OS, you're not gaining much, if anything by picking up the GPe version, aside from slightly faster software updates. Nevertheless, if you want a Nexus-style phone on the cheap, that's now a possible thanks to the Google Play edition Moto G.
Read more in our hands-on feature with the GPe Moto G and our full review of the Motorola version. The Moto G Google Play edition is available from the Google Play Store.
Announced the same day as the regular HTC One M8, the Google Play edition features the same wraparound metal design (in plain old silver, not gunmetal gray or gold), with stock Android taking the place of HTC's Sense 6 UI. The GPe HTC One M8 sold for $699 on the U.S. Google Play Store, and is based on the AT&T model M8, which includes T-Mobile and AT&T HSPA + LTE support, plus LTE roaming on Bands 7 and 3. It's also able to utilize HTC's unique "Duo Camera" system, which combines the "Ultrapixel" rear shooter with the second camera module that gathers depth information.
Check out our review of the HTC One M8 for more info.
Posted by Jerry Hildenbrand on 15 Jul 2014 5:13 pm
While Google may have discontinued some of the original Google Play edition devices, that doesn't mean they just vanished, or went in a hole along with some Atari cartridges. Case in point — Expansys seems to have acquired enough of them to offer this great little sale to the public.
Posted by Chuong H Nguyen on 8 Jul 2014 5:34 pm
The Google Play store is now only listing three varieties of Google Play edition phones left for sale. It's unclear if the latest clearing of inventory is to make room for the arrival of new devices, but at this time those interested in a Google Play edition can select from the HTC One M8, the Samsung Galaxy S4, and the Motorola's Moto G.
Posted by Simon Sage on 30 Jun 2014 11:13 am
The Moto G Google Play edition is being graced with an update to Android 4.4.4. The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and the LG G Pad also got 4.4.4 updates recently, while the rollout for Nexus device started a bit earlier. The Moto G's previous update, 4.4.3, was released earlier this month.
Posted by Chuong H Nguyen on 3 Jun 2014 5:06 pm
After the rollout of Android 4.4.3 to Google's Nexus line of devices, it looks like the software update may be beginning to hit Google Play edition devices as well. At this time, our forum member is informing us that his Galaxy S4 is starting to get a notification that Android 4.4.3 is being pushed to his smartphone.
Posted by Derek Kessler on 16 May 2014 11:32 am
An unannounced Samsung smartphone — the SM-G900FG — made its way through the Bluetooth SIG's certification process recently, and this might very well be a Google Play edition of the Samsung Galaxy S5. The current TouchWiz-ed Galaxy S5 is the SM-G900F, and last year's Galaxy S4 Google Play edition was the GT-I9505G (the standard Galaxy S4 being the GT-I9505), so it stands to reason that a Galaxy...
Posted by Richard Devine on 21 Apr 2014 5:15 am
Update: Looks like the Google Play edition HTC One M8 won't be making its way outside of the U.S. just yet. In a statement issued to BGR India, HTC India says the Google Play edition M8 was "incorrectly" mentioned in its press release for today's Indian M8 launch. Instead it seems the Sense version of the phone will be the only one available in that country.
Posted by Alex Dobie on 7 Apr 2014 4:42 am
S-OFF exploit for M8 released by Firewater team, Google Play edition conversion now possible for GSM handsets
Good news for those wanting greater freedom to hack and tinker with the HTC One M8, as the Firewater dev team has released its method for gaining S-OFF ("security off") on the device. The method is relatively straightforward if you're handy with a command line — first your device will...
Posted by Phil Nickinson on 3 Apr 2014 7:50 pm
Some of HTC's custom software survives in the latest member of the GPe ranks
Behold, the HTC One M8 Google Play edition. Same M8, less HTC. Look, there's not a lot here you haven't already read in our comprehensive HTC One review. Same 5-inch display. Same loud speakers. Same tall but sleek form factor. The difference here is software.
And as has been the case with other GPe devices, things...
Posted by Phil Nickinson on 3 Apr 2014 10:18 am
If you've been patiently awaiting word that your Google Play edition HTC One M8 has shipped, well, there's a good chance it did. Yesterday. We just got a heads up that ours will arrive today (with overnight shipping), so we'll soon get a chance to see how Google's working the Duo Camera features, and whether the popular Dot View case still works. Stay tuned for more.
Posted by Alex Dobie on 3 Apr 2014 5:19 am
Open-source bits for Sense and GPe models now available
As required under the GPL, HTC has released the kernel source code and framework support files for the new HTC One M8. Code is available through HTCDev for the regular Sense version of the phone on a variety of carriers, as well as for the Google Play edition M8 made available last week.
As always, the files won't be of any use to normal...
Posted by Alex Dobie on 25 Mar 2014 5:27 pm
Latest HTC device with 'stock' Android available to pre-order from today
Update: The HTC One (M8) Google Play edition has arrived in the Play Store with the expected $699 price tag, and you can place an order immediately. Regular ground shipping is free, and expected shipping times are currently set at 2-3 weeks.
Original story: Since the first Google Play edition devices' arrived last summer...
Posted by Alex Dobie on 25 Mar 2014 7:22 am
Official app description reveals stock Android version of unannounced flagship
With many HTC Sense 6 apps now appearing on Google Play, further details of the HTC One (M8) features are starting to leak out through HTC's own app listings. Not least of which is the news of a Google Play edition M8, revealed in the description for the HTC Gallery app.
From HTC's blurb (emphasis ours) —
Posted by Derek Kessler on 26 Feb 2014 1:54 pm
No longer for just the Nexus 5
Attention Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, Google Play edition device owners: You too can now use the Google Play Launcher that was previous reserved for just the Nexus 5. That's right, no longer must you suffer with Google Now being a tap-and-hold or widget away, you can now install the Google Now Launcher and swipe right to launch right into Google Now.
Posted by Phil Nickinson on 15 Jan 2014 1:52 pm
It's a Moto G, minus some Motorola software
Let's just get this out of the way: There's very little difference between the "regular" Moto G and the Google Play edition Moto G. It's worth arguing that a GPe version of the Moto G (at this point in time) doesn't really make sense. In fact, you lose some functionality, not being able to use Motorola's custom camera and "Assist" apps, to name but...
Posted by Andrew Martonik on 14 Jan 2014 2:16 pm
Same great phone at a budget price, with a slightly different take on software
In yet another quiet release, Google has just put up the Moto G Google Play edition for sale at $179 for the 8GB model. That mirrors the price that Motorola has been selling it directly, but this version will follow in the footsteps of other GPe devices with a slightly different software experience. The differences...
Posted by Andrew Martonik on 16 Dec 2013 9:47 pm
52MB download makes no immediately noticeable changes
Seeing as the latest Google Play edition devices came out of the box with just Android 4.4, it was only a matter of time before the small bump to 4.4.2 came. The OTA is now pushing out to devices, including our own, bringing the first Google Play edition tablet up to build number KOT49H.
Download the Android 4.4.2 from 4.4 OTA file for...
Posted by Andrew Martonik on 13 Dec 2013 8:18 pm
HTCDev framework support files for the latest build also available
Just a few short days after most Nexus devices started making the hop to Android 4.4.2, the HTC One Google Play edition is now pulling up to parity. According to a few different tips we've received as well as posts in our forums, it seems as though Google and HTC have pulled the trigger on the small point release, which is...
Posted by Jerry Hildenbrand on 11 Dec 2013 1:55 pm
The Sony Z Ultra loses the Xperia tag, but gains the 'Google experience'
A big phone or a small tablet? Neither? Both? It's the same Z Ultra we've seen before, with a little more Google in it. Big, bold, and waterproof, it's one we all were surprised to see when Google announced it.
For fans of big phones — or small tablets with a phone on board — there is a lot to like here. As we saw with...