'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 Alex Dobie on 30 Jul 2013 2:58 pm
How has Samsung’s ‘life companion’ weathered three months in the hands of an AC editor?
It’s been a little over three months since we first reviewed the Samsung Galaxy S4, and a great deal has changed in that time. The phone has launched on countless carriers around the world, allowing us to experience Samsung’s latest on different networks and in different settings. Its firmware has been...
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.
MoDaCo Switch, revealed a couple of weeks ago, is a unique custom firmware allowing you to switch between HTC Sense and...
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
A quick heads up that, as promised, the Google Play edition Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One have begun shipping directly from Google.
In case you've been living under a rock the past couple weeks, these are the (mostly) "stock Android" versions of the phones. Same hardware, with the software as God and Google (HOLOYOLO) intended, for better or for worse. They're SIM-unlocked, with full LTE...
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
Verizon and Sprint exercise more control over the phones that can use their network, and it takes a little more that just building one to make it happen.
In the midst of all the discussion over the merits and flaws of the Google Play edition Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, there's a third discussion taking place, that more than a few people are interested in -- will we ever see a Google Play...
Posted by Phil Nickinson on 2 Jul 2013 5:28 pm
For better or worse, you've got official 'stock' Android on two of the hottest phones around
Forget, for the moment, the “why” of the “Google Play edition” HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4. That’s the official moniker given to the two stock(ish) phones available now, as the name suggests, through Google Play, alongside Google’s own Nexus line. While ours certainly is to question their existence...
Posted by Alex Dobie on 1 Jul 2013 10:43 am
After two months with TouchWiz, what's it like to go 'stock' on Samsung's latest smartphone?
The running joke whenever we discuss the Google Play edition Galaxy S4 is that you can sum things up in just one sentence — it’s the Galaxy S4, with stock Android. Really, if you understand the vanilla “Nexus” UI, as it exists on the Nexus 4, and you understand the Galaxy S4’s hardware, as it exists on...
Posted by Alex Dobie on 28 Jun 2013 8:56 am
First glimpse of the next version of Android looks a lot like what's come before
There's a leaked Android 4.3 Jelly Bean ROM out in the wild this morning, in the form of a pre-release build for the 'Google Play edition' Galaxy S4. It's also been ported to the European LTE Samsung Galaxy S4 (GT-i9505) in the form of a custom ROM, courtesy of the original source of the leak, Samsung fansite...
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
Despite earlier denials, Huawei reportedly now says it's looking into the possibility of a 'Google Play edition' P6
At his company's flashy London launch event for its new Ascend P6 handset last week, Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Richard Yu told journalists in no uncertain terms that the manufacturer wasn't interested in putting out a "Google edition" version of the product it'd just...
Posted by Alex Dobie on 27 Jun 2013 1:29 pm
Camera app from Google Play GS4, HTC One can easily be loaded onto other phones
Yesterday we covered the new camera application in the "Google Play edition" Galaxy S4 and HTC One — a slightly redesigned stock camera app that's a little easier to get around. In the past day we've been digging around in the devices' system partitions and we've discovered that the app, as it exists on the Google...
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
HTC One runs $599, Samsung Galaxy S4 is $649
Today's the day, and now's the time. The Google Play edition — that's the official name, by the way — Samsung Galaxy Galaxy S4 and HTC One are now on sale directly from Google Play.
These are full-price devices, each upwards of $600, running "stock"-ish Android 4.2.2, which is the latest version of Android released. We say "stock"-ish because, well...
Posted by Phil Nickinson on 26 Jun 2013 1:00 pm
Here they are, folks. The "Stock Android" HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4. otherwise known as the new "Google Play edition" devices. Two phones we know quite well, seeing as how they've been available for weeks, if not months. But these are different. They are, more or less, Google's.
Gone is HTC's custom software, Sense 5. Gone is Samsung's TouchWiz. Instead, we've got Android 4.2.2 (which...
Posted by Alex Dobie on 26 Jun 2013 1:00 pm
Redesigned radial menu makes it easier to see all your options
We've got our our hands on the "Google Play edition" Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, and we've been putting both devices through their paces. For the most part, it's hardware we already know running software we've seen before on the Nexus 4. But there's one subtle change we've noticed that could make it a little easier to control...
Posted by Phil Nickinson on 18 Jun 2013 10:21 am
Huawei is pretty proud of the new flagship Ascend P6 and its Emotion UI, which it unveiled today in London. And while we're seeing the likes of Samsung and HTC -- and probably Sony -- get on board with "Google Edition" versions of their top-shelf phones, Huawei has no plans to do so with the Ascend P6, Richard Yu, Chief Executive Officer for the Huawei Consumer Business Group, said at Tuesday's...
Posted by Kevin O'Quinn on 7 Jun 2013 2:07 pm
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition and HTC One Google Edition are on their way. We now have more than one device coming that will run Android in its native form, with no OEM changes in sight. No Sense, no Touchwiz, for better or worse. What does this mean? Should one of them be your next device? These are questions that have been asked by many, but don't have a definitive answer. The...