Google Play Edition

Is a Google Play Edition device the right choice for you? Let us know in this week's poll

Today is the big day when Samsung, HTC and Google finally make the Google Play Edition HTC One and Galaxy S4 available for ordering. Plenty of folks have been excited and waiting for this day, and we're happy that they can finally get what they have been asking about for years  -- Stock Android on the hardware they want without rooting and digging around on them. It's pretty cool that the companies involved got together and did it. Hooray choice!

But these devices aren't for everybody. Features are missing, and while others are added in their place the jury is still out on whether or not they are going to compare well to their original versions. Hackers will delight in unlocked and easy to flash devices, and we expect plenty of action to center around the HTC One and Galaxy S4 because of these releases. The thing is, not everybody is a phone hacker.

For the normal consumer, these might not be the best choice. They are pretty bare-boned when compared to the phones running Sense and Touchwiz, and for every person who hates either there are people who love them. It's a decision that everyone will have to make for themselves. And we're curious what yours will be.

There's a poll in the sidebar to the right. You can also find it after the break. Take a moment and let us all know what your decision will be, and we can hash out all the good and bad points in the comments below.

There are 106 comments

S_C_B says:

S4 purchased!

Sophos says:

You lucky dog ;)

still1 says:

not so lucky but with HTC One, Yes.

planoman says:

What did you think about the fact that you cannot set the photes and videos to be saved directly to the Sd card? Nuts?

TheDu9du says:

Wow so difficult to move it.. Oh no the world is hopeless

ultravisitor says:


dwd3885 says:

think i'll just flash the ROM when available

movielover76 says:

Me too, I just bought a AT&T S4 and I'm getting it tomorrow, phones were half off in June, I paid $100 for it, it's not worth the extra $550 especially if flashing roms is second nature to you :) Ironically a lot of the market for Google Experience phones fit that profile.
But I still think it's wonderful they released these phones, it will make AOSP development for these phones so much better.

JakeHilltop says:

I'd love to but I haven't escaped the stranglehold of CDMA yet.

jddunkley says:

I'm in the same boat :(

Only a few more months of servitude with CDMA then off to GSM. Hopefully Moto X is stock as well.

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p08757 says:

I recently tested the GSM waters where I live, work and play. It didn't work out so good. AT&T almost gave me the coverage I needed but the ultra slow EDGE connections I get when I'm out of the big city killed that idea.

So I'm stuck with Verizon. At least their 4G LTE connections are getting closer to the rural areas I often visit and the 3G is way faster than when I am roaming with AT&T.

Me too!!! Which is why I'm desperately wanting to leave Verizon! GSM boys are having all the fun!

still1 says:

here is a tip! when they loosen the grip and bring another to tighten it again, say no thanks.

automaddux says:

me neither. Ugggghhhh.

mwara244 says:

No, but I Wish. Verizon won't carry these phones, But they will carry the Unlockable Dev editions, allegedly

Brick21 says:

SGS4 GE ordered. Can't wait!

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NoNexus says:

no, and to quote the author "They are pretty bare-boned when compared to the phones running Sense and Touchwiz...."

Love the hardware but the software makes it all work. Perfect case in point is the camera on the One. It needs the software.

I would like to give it a spin and be proven wrong though...

scaots says:

HTC One, because 16GB is not enough. Though a little concerned about the camera.

Connor Mason says:

There's this concept called expandable storage

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bluesun3030 says:

There's a concept where apps can't run on expandable storage.

prediscover says:

then root. it's stock android. or are you not competent

Expecting people to root their phone to push apps to SD? lol

How about just buy a phone with larger internal storage from the go so you don't have to screw around 'fixing' it with rooting and all that nonsense.

mikepahl318 says:

Rooting is nonsense?

What are you doing here?

z0phi3l says:

I aint got that kind of money to spend

Paul D Troy says:

Already have nexus 4.. So not yet anyway.. Will sere if nexus 5 comes out or not..

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Same here

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TheDu9du says:

Luckily I have it too, and just waiting for either Nexus 5, or Moto X, or perhaps anything with Snapdragon 800.

Not as a personal device. After using each for a few weeks, I do not think I could give up the software from each to have as a daily driver.

I'll order one for reviewing if anything. Depends on funds though.

I would like to think some of these people out there could pull software like the HTC One camera Zoe and Video Highlights software off for people to install.

if they make it available in greece.

radiohawk says:

No, in fact strongly considering moving to Windows Phone device. Ready for a change, and that platform is more complimentary to my work environment.

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DirkBelig says:

Thanks for the irrelevant answer. If the question was, "Is anyone having hamburgers for dinner?" no one cares if you're thinking about becoming a vegetarian.

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return_0 says:

The internet isn't very relevant. Don't expect people to use logic. Yes, it's unfortunate, but there's nothing you can do about it.

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hfm says:

You are wrong!! You are on the internet!! Something must be done!

Having used the Lumia 920 and 928 for a few weeks each, the biggest thing that keeps me from using switching is the inability to use a SwiftKey or Swype type keyboard.

There are definitely some great devices on that platform and the HTC 8XT with BoomSound has got my attention. If only it was on other carriers than Sprint.

I just got my Nexus 4 a week ago so I'm good for a while.

ne0ne says:

I would love to. But for 182 out the door at Costco I got my carrier edition htc one. Unlocked boot loader and rooted. Works how I want it and need it to. Although I wouldn't mind playing with these should they release some Google edition Roms for the "normal" HTC one.

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planoman says:

why on earth would you give up the camera software for vanilla?

ElectroWiz says:

Those are exactly my thoughts too. The specific software programs for the camera, videos and pictures are part of what makes these phones so great.

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Some people don't care about the camera. Those of us who don't use it much don't mind losing a bit of functionality.

rampage1979 says:

HTC one would've been ordered if they would ship it to Canada sadly there is no option for either phone.

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eszklar says:

No. As much as I personally like the Google GS4, I'm actually going to wait for the next Nexus 7 Wifi+cellular as I already use one as a phone with VoIP. Value for the money i.e. $300 for a Nexus 7 with celluar vs. $599/$650 for the One/GS4. Well that's how I see it.

DataHawg says:

No on both devices. The One does not have TMo AWS support so it's 2g Edge only unless you're in a city with refarmed 1900mhz. The S4 has AWS support so it's a better choice for TMo but I would rather buy a stock one and install a custom rom so I could go back to stock if I chose to

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lightyear420 says:

Hell no!!! I'm happy with my Nexus 4 that delivers the EXACT same experience, gets official google updates, and cost me half the price the GE phones are going for.

Having said that, there is one exception that would make me consider it....If Sony releases a 2014 model for under $450 I would have a pretty hard time saying no. Although the manufacturers providing updates is a pretty big disappointment...that really puts a HUGE damper on things, IMHO.

Plus us n4 users should see klp update by end of fall

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jorgeix says:

I personally like HTC phones because of sense, and Samsungs touch wiz is not my favorite but there are a few thing I like. I've seen some pure android devices and they look too plain.

sirheck says:

600 frogskins for a phone that will be out dated by the time it is delivered. Not no but hell no.

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rocket321 says:

Why is a different "edition" of hardware even necessary? Just put out a system image with stock android for those folks who bought the hardware already and want to try something different.

ne0ne says:

I think the HTC one is way better than the nexus 4 hardware wise. I wish the nexus had LTE on att

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If only a gsm carrier had service where I live, until that happens Verizon it is for me :-(

TheNexxuvas says:

No, after having both these phones at 5 and 6 weeks each a piece, why would I want crippled versions and overpaying for that??

That said, IF either phone had a nice hybrid ROM where just the elements of Touchwiz or Sense were pulled out (Giving you back the storage overheads, not just replacing the launchers) and I could get access to BoomSound software, HTC Camera software, and vice versa on Samsung side, with all the extra's plus camera software, then I'd be interested in flashing those on both these devices.

Either way, I'm already moving into my next trail unit and both these are now collecting dust, as I put the Note 2 back onto my account until my new unit next week, and am anticipating the Note 3 later as my daily driver, and also the next Windows Phone 8 trial phone.

I see the appeal, as I've carried every Nexus unit since the Nexus S, but I always miss the software tweaks the vendors bring for audio and camera functions. I'm a weird phone user like that, but I've been that way since I started in the biz back in '96.

larkhillv says:

Where is the hell no option?

planoman says:

I have an S4 and just picked up an S4 Active to try out while waiting on the HTC One Google Edition...After reading about them both I am like meh...No Google Wallet so far on the One and the camera is not as good on either...So then I start looking at the S4 Google Edition and I see you can't set the camera to save pictures on the SD card...WTF but they put the code in for the flip case so that works? I sold my Nexus 4 for this? Actually the S4's kick the crap out of the N4 for me...

I guess I will hold to see what the users say. Not sure what to think about these although if they can get google wallet working on the One, I am leaning that way but just gonna wait...might have to take my S4 Active in the pool!
Maybe I will call it a day and get the Sony Watch?!

BTW look like thw S4 is smoking the One is the google edition sales...

benhmadison says:

Is there a place to see which one is selling better or are you judging from comments? It wouldn't surprise me if the GS4 was dominating sales but I would be curious to see it tracked.

planoman says:

was drinking a bit last night in a hotel and was talking data. I was think about getting the HTC One GE but those boards a dead...

tr-1 says:

I would gladly get gs4 but I'm on Verizon and don't plan on leaving because of good network

benurd says:

If I could afford either device, I'd make the plunge.

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defbehinds says:

Absolutely not. If these phone sell well, they will have no reason to make the affordable nexus line which already isn't profitable. All they (Google) need is a reason and the nexus is over.

ilkhan says:

No. I have a nexus 4, no reason to pay twice as much for a marginal improvement.

weiny says:

Just bought a GS4 GE and am happily awaiting i wasn't a big fan of white but i figured ill give it a shot. I look at it like this....i saw a friend with the regular s4 and the software was burning my eyes compared to the N4 that i have and i said that i have spoiled myself with "stock" android. having said that i love my nexus and its price range but when i did buy it i said to myself "if it was only on a GS4 i would totally get that." granted its not a nexus but the software is hopefully Nexus-like... i mean they called it a nexus user experience. As long as i have a nexus user experience i'm happy cause all the touchwiz is just too much. plus you get a removable battery 1080p screen, micro sd, LTE?!?!?! These are things that everyone was complaining about when the N4 came out, but i got it anyways cause it was a nexus!!! Now that i get basically the same experience on a S4 im definitely gonna give it a shot....

PS. I'm gonna sell my N4 which is in perfect condition with 2 cases and a bumper and 1 or 2 more things so if anyone is interested in buying it PM me and well talk

planoman says:

Congrats! +1 on the S4 having the things the N4 was missing! I sold my N4 2 weeks ago! Hope you enjoy it! The reviews say it flys without touchwiz!

weiny says:

My N4 is still flying but i figured with 1.9ghz and stock android it should fly for that price!!

paul-c says:

Already went with the Sony Xperia ZL.

Sent from my Sony Xperia ZL

jean15paul says:

I currently have a Nexus, but if I was in the market for a HTC One or GS4 I would get the standard version and put a launcher on it. That way I get a "stock" UI but don't lose the features.

weiny says:

Idk about you but iv'e played with the GS4 regular edition and i have to say the only real thing that's useful from those of features are two things the multi screen view and the camera software...other than that i don't think its so great.

weiny says:

Just bought a GS4 GE and am happily awaiting i wasn't a big fan of white but i figured ill give it a shot. I look at it like this....i saw a friend with the regular s4 and the software was burning my eyes compared to the N4 that i have and i said that i have spoiled myself with "stock" android. having said that i love my nexus and its price range but when i did buy it i said to myself "if it was only on a GS4 i would totally get that." granted its not a nexus but the software is hopefully Nexus-like... i mean they called it a nexus user experience. As long as i have a nexus user experience i'm happy cause all the touchwiz is just too much. plus you get a removable battery 1080p screen, micro sd, LTE?!?!?! These are things that everyone was complaining about when the N4 came out, but i got it anyways cause it was a nexus!!! Now that i get basically the same experience on a S4 im definitely gonna give it a shot....

PS. I'm gonna sell my N4 which is in perfect condition with 2 cases and a bumper and 1 or 2 more things so if anyone is interested in buying it PM me and well talk

gksmithlcw says:

I would find the money to buy one of each if they were only supported on Sprint....

MarkMcCoskey says:

I just picked up a Note 2 T889 2 months ago, so I am good for awhile.

Amir Maki says:

If you have a good phone such as the nexus 4, these devices are almost useless.

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hodan says:

Except for more internal storage (with One anyway), LTE, and a fantastically superior camera (with either). So I agree "almost useless".

MKerch says:

The only reason I'd want a Google Play Edition device is the fact that I'd want the Nexus kernels from Google. Seeing as how the manufacturers are managing the kernels, I'm not at all interested. I might as well buy any phone I want and flash CyanogenMod. Currently that's the entire reason I have a Galaxy Nexus, because Google actually releases the kernels immediately, whereas the manufacturers completely drag their feet.

mtmerrick says:

Nope. But i will as soon as there's a PSE/Nexus phablet :)

I would LOVE to if they would offer them on Verizon!

smacsteve says:

I have the HTC One and I love the new Sense 5.0! I've had the last 3 Nexus phones and I used to be all about having the plain vanilla Android as Google intended it to be, but after having the latest version of HTC Sense, I can say there's no way I'd take the Nexus Google experience over the HTC Sense. I have had several versions of the Samsung Touch Wiz and I have to say it's gotten way over bloated and too gimmicky. Let alone it very flaky in it's ability to do what it supposed to. Down with Touch Wiz and if you're still a Nexus experience fan, more power to you. I just prefer the feature set of the HTC Sense 5.0 for me.

hodan says:


stoneworrior says:

I would love the HTC one edition but after having two Nexus devices in a row I will wait to see how updates are handled on these devices. If Google treats them as a Nexus with updates and no waiting I'm all in. If not I'll stay with the Nexus branding.

Tom Barnes3 says:

Have had N4 since January and love it. Stock Android is great for me. What I would like to see is a dual boot GS4 or HTC One, to take advantage of the best of both Worlds. Sometimes the manufacturers UI can add to the experience, I just don't see why you should need two devices that are both capable of running the same software. Dual/Multiple boot is the way forward for all devices from PCs to phones.

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leif1981 says:

Got the S4 "Samsung Edition". I like some of the Samsung tweaks and addons.

bespinct says:

I am not likely to buy either as I have a hard time swallowing a full price purchase when I know I am not likely to change carriers, making subsidized pricing the only way to go. Why should I pay more for than someone else for the same phone while paying the same price for service? Good model or not, that is model we have to work with.

I think these devices are great. They provide a means for folks to experience Google Android if that is their preference. Choice is awesome. I am hoping that the resources made available from HTC One release deliver what is necessary to make the AOSP based Droid DNA ROMS bug free.

jlczl says:

+1. If they sold it side by side to the regular editions through my carrier I'd choose the Google Edition. The current model of service just does make it worthwhile.

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gburns says:

No love for CDMA, only the crappy networks around here. Starting to make me rethink my choice of Android.

yankeesusa says:

I would get it if they had a cdma version. Plus the price is a little steep but I'm sure my note 2 could bring it down to about a 100 or 200. I know gsm is very easy to use and international but I feel cdma has less dropped calls and better quality calls. I hate it that they don't make them for both networks.

Connor Mason says:

the only reason i didn't buy a normal S4 is because I think TouchWiz is repulsive and outdated looking. I'm not one to root either. A Google edition of the S4 would therefore be the best phone available for my taste. However, I can't justify spending $649 while I'm tied down in an AT&T family plan. In this case, I feel the two best options left are the subsidized HTC One and the Nexus 4. Just my opinion though.

shaytoon21 says:

if u get the s4, just download nova launcher (free) and you will forget your phone is a stock s4. you will swear that youre running pure android.


I know what I'm not going to miss. The 8GBs of extra features the OS uses on the Galaxy S4!

Either way, if I didn't already have both of these handsets I would've bought these Google Edition phones in a heartbeat.

mpete says:

If they release a Sprint Edition.

rbess1965 says:


Posted using the amazing Razr MaxxHD by Motorola.

Kamin says:

I'm holding out for the Experia Z GE.

JobiWan144 says:

No, I bought my EVO last year and am pretty satisfied with it. I'll wait till next year before buying another phone, probably making the HTC One's successor, the Moto X's successor, or the YotaPhone. I'm almost certain to move to GSM, though. Sprint and Verizon can't beat the freedom to switch carriers and devices and to use international networks.

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focr6 says:

Never. I want my S crap. I used to like vanilla android, not anymore... I like all my air move and view/browse and all share. I don't care about the other apps.

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Nope, went with a 64GB AT&T One instead. It replaced a Galaxy S3 and even Sense is like a breath of fresh air compared to TouchWiz.

popartist says:

Answered no because I already have a One and have no intention of flashing the ROM and ditching Sense's Zoe and other features.

Mikeric says:

Nope ticking to my nexus devices. Also that poll won't let me vote on mobile devices.

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Saturn1217 says:


I was originally very interested in the GE Galaxy S4 however there are two issues which have sapped my interest:

Biggest issue: If updates have to come from Samsung I do not have confidence that 1-2 years from now Samsung will still be invested in providing prompt updates for a phone they will likely no longer be selling and which very few people will have bought. I'm sure the update to 4.3 will go fine but I would be very angry to spend so much and not be able to keep this top of the line phone for a full 2 years.

Small annoying issue: the multi-tasking function has been mapped to a double tap of a physical button ?! Read Anandtech's review. This small detail was annoying enough for him to point out and I wouldn't like it at all. Gizmodo also gave the button layout win to the HTC one (even though that phone has an even worse button layout) and I highly suspect this issue contributed to that. I use multi-tasking a lot and disable Google Now so I would want to be able to long press the home button for the task switcher. Really angry that they gave preference to their google services over basic UI navigation.

I will wait for the Nexus 5 (I really hope there is a next nexus phone). I think we underestimated how much of a difference it makes having the software and the hardware designed for each other.

_X_ says:

If I was getting a new phone I would consider this. But I recently bought my Note II and can't be happier. BTW I bought min in Nov of last year... i'm still feel like I'm honeymooning with this phone :p.


hargoth#AC says:

I would be more tempted if it weren't for the Xperia Ultra announcements.
I will wait to see what happens there.

Also, the possible T-Mobile radio issues with GE phones make me definitely want to wait and see in any case.

Not a chance. I own carrier versions of both phones and I have no interest in neutered phones.

soldierblade says:

Happy enough with my white Nexus 4. Its fast, looks great, and I can live with the price. I understand the prices for the GE One and S4 are the going rate for top tier smart phones, but I feel like the going rate is insanely inflated.

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21stNow says:

I have the Galaxy S4 carrier edition and ordered the HTC One Google Edition. When the HTC One came out, I didn't want another phone with Sense on it. I also didn't want to unlock the bootloader, root and ROM the HTC One either, so the Google Edition works out for me.

bblande says:

No chance I'll drop $600 on a phone. Ever.

Synycalwon says:

Hell no! After my experience with the Nexus 7, vanilla Android isn't for me. Lacks too many features native to skins, some of which cannot be duplicated via third party apps.

Ishaan Verma says:

You guys should have added one more option "Not Available In My Country :-( "

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Quasar says:

I'm waiting for the next Nexus...

sx2l says:

I would if I lived in the US, and had money...

speculatrix says:

I'd rather buy a fully unlocked device (with S-OFF on an HTC device) than have to hack and root a standard one, IF it means the difference between having a warranty on the Google Experience device vs losing it one the standard device.

XChrisX says:

I really wanted the Google Edition S4, and initially I was going to buy one as they were launched around the time of my birthday. However I think I want the Note 3 more and that will already be an off contract purchase. Plus I'd imagine Google Edition phones would be harder to sell in the future.