'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 in Google Play.
The Google Play edition HTC One 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, and 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 HTC One 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 in 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 does boast the most impressive specs of the GPe range at present, 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.
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
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
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
Posted by Alex Dobie on 11 Dec 2013 12:23 pm
GPe Sony Z Ultra and LG G Pad 8.3 ditch 'Gallery' in favor of G+ 'Photos' app
We suspected it was coming ever since we powered on the Nexus 5 to find both "Gallery" and "Photos" occupying the app drawer. And now the inevitable has come to pass — the stock Android "Gallery" app has been phased out in the new Google Play edition Sony Z Ultra and LG G Pad 8.3, having been completely replaced by...
Posted by Andrew Martonik on 10 Dec 2013 2:10 pm
Posted by Alex Dobie on 10 Dec 2013 1:00 pm
Posted by Andrew Martonik on 25 Nov 2013 10:05 pm
The other shoe drops
Following up on confirmed reports that the Google Play edition HTC One was receiving its update to Android 4.4, the GPe Galaxy S4 has its own update. With a quick mention on the official Android Google+ page, we now know that both Google Play editions have their update just a matter of days after Nexus devices.
This follows the release of open-source files for both devices...
Posted by Alex Dobie on 25 Nov 2013 12:39 pm
Posted by Alex Dobie on 25 Nov 2013 5:27 am
Posted by Alex Dobie on 25 Nov 2013 4:08 am
Google Play edition Galaxy S4 and HTC One Android 4.4 updates shouldn't be far behind
Samsung and HTC have just published the Android 4.4 kernel source code and framework support files for their Google Play edition devices. While the code released today, a requirement of the GPL, won't be of any use to regular users, it does mean the rollout of KitKat to both Google Play edition phones is...
Posted by Andrew Martonik on 18 Nov 2013 10:26 pm
Posted by Alex Dobie on 15 Nov 2013 3:42 pm
Posted by Alex Dobie on 13 Sep 2013 6:10 am
Minor update to Android 4.3 now rolling out for GS4 GPe
Along with the Google Play edition HTC One, it now seems the "stock" Android Galaxy S4 (GT-I9505G) is also getting its over-the-air update to build JWR66Y — a slightly newer version of Android 4.3. The bump from the earlier build JWR66V hit Nexus devices a couple of weeks ago, and includes security updates for the latest iteration of...
Posted by Andrew Martonik on 11 Sep 2013 11:29 pm
Small security fix hits two weeks after finding its way to Nexus devices
The Google Play edition version of the HTC One is pulling down an OTA update tonight that brings it back up to speed with Nexus devices on build JWR66Y. The update, which folks are indicating has been hitting at least some devices, is to the same one that hit Nexus phones and tablets about two weeks ago with a quick...
Posted by Alex Dobie on 23 Aug 2013 9:08 am
Toggle between TouchWiz and vanilla Android on the international GS4
After the Indiegogo campaign to bring MoDaCo Switch to the Galaxy S4 raised more than double the intended £1000 ($1500) target amount, the first private beta build of the custom ROM is being distributed to backers via email.
Similar the HTC One version, MoDaCo Switch allows owners of the international LTE GS4 (GT-i9505)...