Google Experience phones: What's the big deal and are they worth it?

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 discussion has been happening in the forums, though, with many members weighing in on the issues.

New Forum Moderator Jennifer Stough had this to say, which probably echoes what a lot of us are thinking:

"I think it's good for the smart phone industry and good for the consumers to have variety, and now you aren't limited to the Nexus line for a stock Android experience. However, I feel like putting stock Android on phones that are so feature rich is a bit of a waste. The S4 will lose most of its features and gestures that are Touchwiz dependent, and the ONE will lose Zoes/Picture Highlights, and will most likely suffer in the camera department without it's Sense counterparts. I see these phones being marketed more towards developers as opposed to people who really want the Vanilla Android experience. For a lesser price, you could get a carrier version, unlock and root, and flash AOSP."

Solid points for sure, and definitely something to consider.  What about those features though?  Are they worth losing just to get superior hardware compared to the Nexus 4?  For some, it boils down to just that, the hardware.  I'll let forum member thebizz explain it:

"This phone is absolutely worth the money in my mind.  I didn't purchase the regular S4 due to Touchwiz, but I like the S4 hardware. The addition of LTE, an SD card, 1080p screen, larger battery, etc all make up for the extra cost over the  Nexus 4 and keep in mind the Nexus 4 is still a 500 dollar device.  Google is just subsidizing the phone. I just need to figure out were I'm going to cone up with the 700 bucks to buy it now."

What do you guys think?  We want these devices to do well enough to justify doing them again, but also know that they aren't for everyone.  Jump into the discussion and let us know how you feel about them.

Kevin OQuinn