Galaxy S4 and HTC One – Google Edition

by: Bogdan PetrovanMay 24, 2013

We are all mobile geeks, here at Android Authority. We love everything with a power button. We like to comment the latest news and endlessly argue over which phone is better. On the Friday Debate, we pick a hot issue and proceed to discuss it. Join us!

We didn’t get a new Nexus at Google I/O week, but we got the next best thing – a Samsung Galaxy S4 running stock Android, to be sold from the Play Store and timely updated by Google. The news was received enthusiastically by many Android fans, and almost instantly a rumor started that HTC may be offering their own Google Edition of  the One. A week later, we have an avalanche of unofficial reports about the “Senseless” One, which is said to launch in the coming days.

In this Friday Debate, we discuss the new Google Edition Android flagships and what they mean for the Android ecosystem. Join us in the comments.

Adam Koueider

First off, I think it’s nice that the OEMS are accommodating the Android enthusiasts (and it’s about time!)

We often hear about Android fragmentation and delayed updates, so the Nexus line was people’s main choice for a pure Android experience. However, the problem with the Nexus smartphones, is that they are released at the end of the year, meaning after just a few months your shiny Nexus 4 appears a little duller compared to the 2013 high end smartphones.

Now that doesn’t mean that the Nexus 4 is outdated by any stretch, it’s just that we “Android enthusiasts” tend to be on the bleeding edge tech side of things (even when our financial positions shouldn’t allow us to).

In come the Galaxy S4 Google Edition and the HTC “Senseless” One. They give us the bleeding edge tech we so desire, as long as we are willing to sacrifice a hundred dollars or two. Of course this is also their fatal flaw, their pricing isn’t exactly in line with the Nexus ideals, but hey, you can always wait for the Nexus 5 to come out later this year.

See that’s the beautiful thing about Android, choice. You can choose to get a Galaxy S4, with the best of hardware meeting the best of software design, or you can choose an HTC One with the best of hardware design (and not too shabby specs) meeting the best of software design. It’s a win-win situation.

Of course, these devices aren’t going to sell in the tens of millions like their skinned counterparts. No matter how much we like it, these devices are strictly aimed at the Android devotee’s. The ones who’ve flashed a ROM on their devices, gone a bit wild and thought “What the heck?” and chucked a CyanogenMod nightly onto their smartphone, the developers and the aficionado’s still feeling a little burnt after the loss of Google Reader (yes, I’m still mad).

Hopefully, even more OEMs make Google Editions of their smartphones. I mean imagine a day when we turn our shiny new Galaxy S5s and HTC Twos on and see the option “Would you like to use TouchWiz or Stock Android as your launcher?”

Go on without me guys, I’m already in heaven.


Robert Triggs

It’s an excellent idea in my opinion, as there are two major benefits of this: it helps to build a more unified Android experience, and of course it’s great for consumer choice.

Consumers love free updates, and that’s the big problem with Android; fragmentation. So many users are stuck with just one or two updates over an entire product lifecycle, and I wonder how many users still haven’t tried out Google Now? More Nexus-type devices should help to keep Android moving forward at a steady pace, and consumers will be happier playing with the latest features.

The current line-up of Nexus devices are great, but, having said that, you’re pretty limited for choice when it comes to hardware and price. Stock Android is really popular, just look at the number of people running pure or close to pure Android ROMs. There’s clearly a market for stock Android at a variety of price points, so it’s about time that manufacturers clambered aboard.

It’s a win for everyone in my book, so I hope that we see more “Google Edition” handsets in the future.
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Joe Hindy

The Google Editions of these phones are a lot like Call of Duty games. The game itself is really good, but the fan base surrounding it can ruin the experience for you. This is essentially how I feel about the Google Editions of these phones. The phones themselves are great additions to Camp Android. They give people more options for top of the line phones and, if you’ll recall, it’s this kind of diversity that made Android great to begin with.

What is quickly ruining my joy, though, is the reaction from fans. Long have I gone to websites just to see people trash talk HTC Sense, Touchwiz, and pretty much everything not running stock Android. A few weeks ago, it was understandable because high end phones should have more options. I’ll say it again, diversity made Android what it is today. Back then, enthusiasts were right. People should be given more options as to which OS they want to run. Keywords here, ladies and gents: options, choices.

Now that these options and choices are available, everyone should be happy right? There should be dancing in the streets and all the bad talk about HTC Sense and Touchwiz should end, right? Since these two OEM skins are now just options and not forced on people anymore, there should be peace in the Android community, right?

Wrong! Enthusiasts have taken this opportunity now to continue to bash OEM skins. In fact, it’s gotten even worse. This is the general attitude of enthusiasts on the subject. They have received what they’ve been demanding for years. The latest flagships with a stock offering. Continuing to complain about OEM skins has made me irritated and it’s now officially old and bothersome.

I’m extremely happy that there is now more diversity and choices with these new Google Editions of flagship phones. I’m extremely disappointed that many enthusiasts got exactly what they wanted and still have the audacity to continue complaining about it.

Bogdan Petrovan

To really understand the significance of the Google Editions, we have to think about what made Samsung and HTC give up on their longtime aversion to stock Android. Is it because they realized that offering a stock device won’t hurt their image? Or because there is finally a sizeable base of customers that demand the Google experience in software?

Regardless of the reason, the moment when Hugo Barra announced the Galaxy S4 Google Edition will go down in the history of Android as a turning point. I believe that, in the future, more phone makers will adopt stock Android, which will contribute to a virtuos circle of increasing adoption and increasing recognition of Google’s version of Android among customers.

What do you make of the Google Editions of the HTC One and Galaxy S4?

  • MasterMuffin

    I think that both lose many of their original selling features

    Btw, Google could update the stock appearance to look better on AMOLED screen, darker blacks and rich colors please :)

  • gommer strike

    The fact is, for those of us trumpeting “choice choice choice” here we are doing the exact opposite.

    We’re lambasting the CHOICE of HTC and Samsung to throw on skins. That’s their CHOICE to do so. We also have the CHOICE of not buying them. And guess what, we’re screaming so loudly to REMOVE the manufacturer’s CHOICE of building the phones the way *they see fit* to do so.

    We’re being hypocrites. You know what other handset manufacturer makes a unified interface across all their phones? Apple.

    yup, the enemy. And here we are, trying to force all handset makers to be like the enemy. ironic, no?

    • JosephHindy

      I like this guy’s answer. He’s absolutely right.

      • On a Clear Day

        Having “timely” updates is important to me (I think! lol) not that I or most of the sentient world are likely to be able to discern even the slightest differences between a 4.1 a 4.2. or a 4.3 version – jeez guys – it is a phone – does it make a call, yes; does it enable me to move at almost faster than the speed of light around the internet world – yes, does 4.3 do for me – for all practical purposes – what 4.2 did? Probably.

        I love – thinking I am in possession of the fastest, bestest most awesome iteration of whatever it is I have, just as much as the next guy, but come on now…., really are we not splitting hairs, are we not making the classic “much ado about nothing”, pole vaulting over mouse manure, creating a tempest in a teapot – so to speak – over things that frankly “don’t make no never mind” – as the Amish are wont to say?

        Personally, here is what would make me really happy. Wanna here? Then keep reading. (If not, I think just as highly of you too.)

        I am eyeing the Galaxy S4 Active. Why?

        I’ll tell you why.

        1. I want a phone – it will be my first really nice one given I am a very patient and though not impecuniousness nevertheless I am a careful pursuer of things that will yield real value over time and have been waiting.

        Waiting for a phone that can give me several years of good service and usability for several years down the road – alas, I am no long so young and foolish and to think a fancy phone – be it of metal or conceived by Steve Jobs will get me the girl or boy of my choice – would that I were! Oh well, that was then, this is now.

        2. I want a phone that has interesting and useful features both from the hardware as well as software angles.

        3. I want a phone that will cause me very little trouble – including allowing me to put in a fresh battery when needed – and re-charging is not possible – so I can continue on my merry way.

        4. I want a phone that was conceived from the initial design stages; through its marketing to seek to help me be freer – rather than try to turn me into a perpetual, indentured servant to its business model ( think Apple).

        5. I want a phone designed by a company that actually has the balls to create a phone that would all be so damn good, have so many features that I would be a fool not to go with it, and at the same time make it worth my while to put my trust in them that they weren’t going to try to f me down the road in subservience to the bean counters.

        What I want is a Samsung Galaxy S4 that gives me up to the minute updates but also allows me to have all the “perks” of the good, the bad and the ugly of what their none too small efforts and proprietary software give one.

        That is what I want. Yet I think, from what I read, that even with a Google S4 such will not be the case.

        Per chance we live in an imperfect world, do you think? sms

    • Damian Salvatto

      I definitely agree and respect this here.

    • Guest

      You’re right in a way. That’s why I should have the choice of buying a GS4 and choosing whether I want to run stock Android or TouchWiz. I have nothing against TouchWiz it adds some very nice features like Multiview and smart stay. The problem with TouchWiz is it slows your phone down and is ugly (gingerbread greens, no thank you). But then again there isn’t a real point of having stock Android on your Galaxy Note 2, because it defeats the purpose of buying a Galaxy Note 2, when you lose all the S-Pen features.

      I’m fine with TouchWiz, don’t really mind Sense, but what I don’t like is bloatware and the software you’re running on, slowing down your blazing fast Quad-Core devices.

      We’re not telling them to NOT put skins, it’s just maybe sometimes I’d want to delete the useless apps you guys put on MY device. Now what I want is the CHOICE to pick either TouchWiz or Stock Android as my launcher, the GS4 has a much larger global reach than the “Google Edition GS4” will ever have. I’d still put my mother’s phone on TouchWiz (that easy mode has saved me a lot of hours in tech support), but for me I’ll go for some butter please, make that extra butter.

      • simpleas

        It doesn’t slow my note 2 down so im not sure what you’re talking about. All phones are fast these days… smh I’d rather take sammys feature packed rom over boring ass stock where you’re gonna try to download replacemnt apps anyway. I’d rather have samsungs own tested apps.

    • scb1898

      I don’t really care about their choice.

      I’m telling them that if they want me to choose them as my device maker, give me the option to use stock or their skin.

      S4 Google Edition, arrive at my doorstep now!

  • monkeypox69

    Buy the phone from the company that isn’t in turmoil and struggling for its life. Buy the phone from the company that doesn’t have to struggle like dogs to meet demand. Buy the phone from the company that supports its customers with OS updates to its devices.

    • Adolfo

      Of course, buy the phone from the company that spends more in marketing that in R&D, buy the phone from the company that knows that no matter if they make no innovation at all we are still going to buy their devices. Of course, buy from THAT company

      • uu

        It doesnt matter if they spend more in marketing than r&d, as far as they are spending more in R&D than other manufacturers.. 11B marketing is not far from 10B R&D

    • AndroidBrian

      Demand? Turmoil? Your buying a single device, not stock in the company. Buy the phone you like best. OS updates come from Google on these Pure Google devices not HTC or Samsung.

  • OMGgary

    What I make of it is that the Galaxy S4 GE exists, and that until something gets officially announced by HTC the One GE is just rumour, so this debate is at the very least premature.

    • AndroidBrian


  • AndroidBrian

    Its cool there offering pure Google for these 2 phones. I’m worried tho. I don’t see Google play selling these 2 phones for $650 and then selling a Nexus for $300. People forget that the Nexus 4 is the only Nexus device to start at such a low price. Could possibly be the last.

    I think Google sold the Nexus 4 so cheap so they can do what there doing now. Make a Nexus device with the most popular flagship devices. They proved to the big manufacturers that theres a demand for pure Google.

    • OMGgary

      The only Nexus device at such a low price? So you think that the Nexus 7 at $199 and the Nexus 10 at $399 are too expensive? It isn’t “people” that forget things, it’s you.
      Google selling the GE of Galaxy S4 through the Play Store makes no difference to pricing of actual Nexus devices. Nobody has officially confirmed anything about a stock Android One from HTC, much less where it will be sold.

      • AndroidBrian

        I’m talking about Nexus phones not tablets. Thought that was obvious. I guess I should of stated Nexus “phone”

        What have I forgotten? Google selling a pure Google phone on the Play Store doesn’t effect the pricing of the Nexus 5? Perhaps, but maybe it does. I did say “I think” stating its my opinion that I don’t think a Nexus 5 will sell for such a low price. Like I said, I think it was Google’s intent to get pure Google on the biggest flagship devices. Nexus 4 made pure Google bigger than ever.

        I own a Nexus 4 and I’m hoping Nexus 5 stays at $300-350 but Google selling a phone at cost or maybe even losing a little money for every unit sold….. I don’t see that lasting forever.

        I’m sorry if my opinion upsets u.

        • OMGgary

          It didn’t upset me, you can think what you like, but I am just pointing out that your comment is using vague terms, unconfirmed rumours and FUD. If you mean phones then say phones, otherwise it does sound like you are forgetting the other cheap Nexus “devices”.

          • AndroidBrian

            This article is about “if” the HTC One comes out. It states in the article “unconfirmed reports.” So were all speculating what if. Its a little redundant to say the HTC One is a rumor.

            It appears to be a very likely what if. Being that there’s multiple reports confirming HTC is going PG. But yes its a rumor till HTC confirms. Thank for pointing that out Gary.

        • egilmore

          That is some quality English you’ve got there! You must “of” been really paying attention.

          • AndroidBrian

            Haha really? I love when people make grammatical corrections on message boards .

            Thanks egilmore. I used quotations to emphasize the word. Guess I should of used all caps or something to avoid ur scrutiny.


          • egilmore

            Oh dear, the irony of what you just said is one of the saddest things I’ve read in years.
            You actually haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, do you? Even as you were spouting more textspeak gibberish you said it again.
            Hint: Forget about what you put in quotation marks and look at what I did instead. It’s called the perfect tense. While you are at it, google the difference between “there” and “they’re”, and look up “apostrophe” and “preposition” in a dictionary. People are making grammatical corrections because you write like a dunce! Did you ever think that maybe these people are, in their own way, trying to help you.

          • AndroidBrian

            Goodness calm down. I skim on message boards. I read your “if” & I assumed you were referencing my miss placed quotations. Reading it again I see what your insult was pertaining to. Thanks for the hint.

            I don’t think I have ever been corrected on a message board. Its just annoying when I read them.

            Why are u so rude? If you have this overwhelming obligation to correct people you can do so without being such a sarcastic d!ck about it. If you corrected me without the little jab “this is some quality English you got” I wouldn’t have replied.

            Do you go around insulting people you dot know? No u don’t. So why do you think this behavior is acceptable online?

            Have a good 3 day weekend guy.

  • iPhart

    HTC One is NOT coming with Google Edition. Remember that, and stop with this BS.

    • That Guy

      This comment is hilarious in hindsight.

  • well I hope they will they release it world wide not just US I would like to get SGS4G or HTC ONEG in UK

  • Lowry Brooks

    I don’t think Skins are that bad anymore. If I had to choose between HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4 G edition, I’d choose the HTC one, because without touchwiz the Samsung looses all of it’s cool features. Then it’s about design, in which I’d go for the HTC.

  • Anthonydotcom

    Love it. I already have a One, but it’s nice knowing that a fully functional version of android will be available soon to flash (Thanks XDA). I’ve always enjoyed using Cyanogenmod but as nice as it is there’s always a bug. Oddly enough I really enjoy having Sense 5 on my One. Sure there are a few quirks but it sure as heck looks and feels nicer than Touchwiz. I loved my GS3 too, but TW even with a theme is just fugly. AOSP based roms were nice but there was always something not working. Either way I think people in both Sammy, HTC, and Sony camps should be pretty happy about this new trend.