'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 Andrew Martonik on 20 Aug 2013 2:45 pm
Posted by Jerry Hildenbrand on 10 Aug 2013 7:36 pm
Posted by Andrew Martonik on 2 Aug 2013 7:03 pm
Kernel source now released for both GPe devices, but still no full updates available.
Following right on the heels of HTC releasing the kernel source for the Google Play edition HTC One, Samsung has released its required code for the GPe Galaxy S4. This isn't at all surprising, as the manufacturers are required under their license to make the kernel source for these devices available. What...
Posted by Alex Dobie on 2 Aug 2013 2:11 pm
Kernel source published — but no update for devices just yet
HTC has released the kernel source code and related platform support files for the Google Play edition HTC One, as required under the GPL. The code drop comes ahead of the Google Play HTC One's Android 4.3 update — officially, the phone's still on 4.2.2, and we've not seen any updates on our own devices just yet.
The kernel source...
Posted by Alex Dobie on 30 Jul 2013 2:58 pm
Posted by Alex Dobie on 26 Jul 2013 6:19 am
Dual-boot between Sense and Google edition ROMs on your HTC One, with a single set of app data
Update: For those interested in having similar capabilities on the Galaxy S4 (GT-i9505), MoDaCo has an Indiegogo project set up to raise £1000 ($1500) to bring Switch to the GS4.
Posted by Jerry Hildenbrand on 10 Jul 2013 5:51 pm
The first step of turning your HTC One into a Google Play edition is now ready
Hey there sports fans, if you're thinking of taking your existing HTC One and converting it into a bona fide Google Play edition HTC One, the work has already begun. The stock bootloader and stock recovery have been pulled off the device, and they're uploaded with all the instruction you need to get them flashed....
Posted by Phil Nickinson on 9 Jul 2013 7:18 am
Posted by Alex Dobie on 8 Jul 2013 5:46 am
Google Play edition handset spotted at Bluetooth SIG with new Android version
At this point it's no great secret that Android 4.3 is right around the corner, and that among other things it'll bring Bluetooth 4.0 support as a standard OS feature. So it's just as unsurprising to see the the Google Play edition HTC One dropping by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group with support for version 4.0...
Posted by Jerry Hildenbrand on 7 Jul 2013 2:28 pm
Posted by Phil Nickinson on 2 Jul 2013 5:28 pm
Posted by Alex Dobie on 1 Jul 2013 10:43 am
Posted by Alex Dobie on 28 Jun 2013 8:56 am
Posted by Alex Dobie on 28 Jun 2013 7:29 am
The next version of Jelly Bean has leaked for the 'Google Play edition' GS4 — and there's a port for the European GS4 model already
Android 4.3 Jelly Bean isn't even official yet, but already a leaked build has appeared for the Samsung Galaxy S4 "Google Play edition." The pre-release build was uploaded by Samsung fansite SamMobile in its original form, and in the form of a custom ROM for the...
Posted by Alex Dobie on 28 Jun 2013 6:37 am
Posted by Alex Dobie on 27 Jun 2013 1:29 pm
Posted by Andrew Martonik on 26 Jun 2013 8:32 pm
Sources required to be available under the GPL are now ready for devs to take a look at
Right on time, the full kernel sources for both the HTC One and Galaxy S4 Google Play edition devices are ready for download courtesy of links from JBQ on the Android Building Group. For the enterprising developers that want (or need) it to work with for a deeper understanding of these two devices, the...
Posted by Phil Nickinson on 26 Jun 2013 1:00 pm