Nexus or Google Play edition: what’s your choice?

by: Bogdan PetrovanDecember 20, 2013

Friday Debate aa (1)

In this edition of the Friday Debate, we talk about the fine distinction between Google’s own Nexus devices and the devices sold through the Google Play edition program. What do you prefer? If money was no object, what would you buy and why? Is the Nexus line superior to Google Play edition phones? Is the fact that GPE devices were designed with certain software features in mind taking away from their appeal as pure Android devices?

Join us in the discussion, vote in our poll, and sound off in the comments!

Andrew Grush

Fans of a ‘pure’ Android experience have never had it better than they do today. Not only are there four different Google Play Edition handsets running bloat-free Android, there’s also the Nexus 5, Nexus 7 2013 and the Nexus 10. Then there’s also handsets like the Moto X and Moto G that might not be quite ‘stock’ Android, but they’re pretty close.

If I could get any stock Android handset right now, it would hands-down be the Nexus 5. There’s several reasons for this. First off, it’s a device that was actually built from ground up to run Google’s vision for Android, unlike GPe devices which were originally meant to feature special manufacturer-branded software and tricks.

Second, pricing. With a few issues like camera performance and battery life, the Nexus 5 might not be perfect but it is significantly more affordable than GPe handsets and yet it’s pretty close when it comes performance (and even better in some ways).If price wasn’t a factor, though? Honestly, I’d still go for the Nexus 5. It might not be perfect, but it’s still one of the best ways to get a pure Android fix, the way Google intended it.

That said, when it comes to tablets, I am strongly considering gifting away my Nexus 7 2013 to a family member in the near future and making the jump to the LG G Pad 8.3 GPe.

Sure, the G Pad is a bit over-priced compared to devices like the Nexus 7, but there’s something about the 8-inch display (or 8.3-inch in this case) that just feels better. At this size, the tablet is still very portable, but the extra screen realestate comes in handy for games and even just basic stuff like web browsing.

Again, there’s really no right answer, and it’s great to see so many options right now that cater to all the different kinds of Android users out there.

Darcy LaCouvee

Google has done an admirable job advancing the hardware and software ecosystem through their Nexus program. Consumers now have access to hardware that is not overpriced, yet still cutting edge.

Now, with more and more manufacturers producing GPE devices, it begs the question – why don’t all devices have a GPE equivalent? Of course, for some devices with highly customized software like the Galaxy Note 3, it’s likely that it would require significant development costs to port over all the S-pen features (something that independent developers would likely do)

If money is no object, for me, the LG G Pad is arguably the best tablet on the market. 10 Inch tablets are not a desirable form factor, they are too cumbersome, too big. 8.2 inches his the sweet spot of large display and portability that makes tablets so attractive in the first place.

I do wish, though, that the LG G2 was available as a GPE device, even though it’s quite easy to root, etc. It’s not a path that many will take. And its software (particularly the camera) will leave many with a sour taste in their mouth. I’d also love to see a Note 3 with stock, clean Android, and some S-pen functionality.

Everything on Android is becoming compartmentalized. The necessity for rooting, installing custom ROM’s decreases by the day. I say liberate all Android devices with stock Android, and offer the user the ability to choose as soon as they power it on, what they want their experience to be like.

G Pad 8.3 > Nexus 7. G2 > Nexus 5. Note 3 GPE FTW!

Bogdan Petrovan

Both the Nexus program and the Google Play edition program were conceived as experiments, for Google to show the world what pure Android can mean, while giving partners full freedom to go their own way with overlays and crazy features. I think GPE is an evolution of the Nexus program, so I don’t have any ideological qualms with these devices, even if they weren’t designed on Google’s specs.

At first blush, the Nexus 5 is the best of all stock Android smartphones, but I wouldn’t dismiss the HTC One GPe either. There’s something timeless about its design and build that makes it desirable even now, when a pack of competitors have outraced it the specs competition. And as Andrew said, there’s a GPe device for the masses, and its name is Moto G. If you’re like me, the fact that you could buy three Moto G’s for the cost of one GS4 or HTC One GPe is hugely important.

When it comes to tablets, I think I would choose the G Pad 8.3 GPe over the Nexus 7, because of the larger screen, aluminum build, and microSD card. I really like its stealthy appearance and a bigger screen is always better. On the downside, the display is not as good as the Nexus 7’s and you pay a premium for that aluminum backplate. Choices, choices…

I’d really like to see a new Nexus 10 that would ship with a keyboard dock or maybe a keyboard cover, like the Surface’s. Or, as Darcy said, a Note 3 GPe with full stylus support. That would be something special.

What do YOU think?

Join us in the comments and vote in our poll.

[poll id=”434″]

  • Jayfeather787

    While some GPEs might be better than the Nexus 5, I still think it is the best. It will be the first to receive updates from google. The Nexus 5 also has Optical Image Stabilization in its camera, which is good for shaky hands, even if the Sony Z ultra has a higher megapixel camera, it might not result in the best shots. Lg G pad 8.3 could be considered better than the Nexus 7.

  • Beyar Asketchian

    I think when it comes to the stock android nexus is better but when it comes to the features of the phone then i thing a GPE is a Good Idea .

  • paparon

    GPE for microsd card. and removable battery.

    Choice is always the best.

    • Shark Bait

      There nice to have, but their not a deal breaker , and certainly not worth the extra £300 if you ask me!

      • APai

        For value for money, nexus devices are excellent!
        For value addition like microsd/ better camera/ speakers/ larger screen etc – GPE is a good option

  • Ishaan Malhotra

    Team nexus!!

  • ..

    • MasterMuffin

      GPE Nexus? :D

    • Darius Hanes

      Daniel you’re right! Why not both? :)

  • Udit

    After using a nexus 4… I don’t think i will go with a nexus next time( even though it has excellect xda developers base) because the nexus line will always have a sub par camera with lack of basic features like burst mode ….and also so great extra software features features like in the samsung or lg line… Yeah you have good specs but what do are they if the display isnt well adjusted and saturate… What good is an s4 pro if the phone heats up and automatically the phone throttles the performence…. The battery seems to be a joke in comparison with a note 2 or g2…. What i think should be done is… Buy a good and clean used flagship(probebly with removable back) get a new battery in it ….. Use the custom mods to make it awesome… And cherish life

    • chris pinkston

      Don’t judge The new Nexus 5 based on the Nexus 4. The screen and camera are much better than Nexus 4. The screen on nexus 5 is really nice, good color balance and super sharp detail. The camera is good after receiving the 4.4.1 update. Maybe not the best in class but plenty good to me now.real world Performance is class leading though, very speedy device at everything. Handles all games as well or better than most android phones.

  • smokebomb

    I’d want a GPE note 3 simply for the expandable storage. I couldn’t care less about s pen functionality. I just want a giant screen that fits in my pocket and a lot of storage.

    • Albert Espinosa

      That’s what I’ve been saying.. The Note 3 GPE would be a great..

  • JP

    Ok… just because an 8.3 inch device arrives then now it’s the proverbial sweet spot? So when an 8 inch tablet arrives next year it will be perfect then?

  • Data

    I find stock Android too dull. I like many of the software features OEMs have added to Android…but if I had to pick I’d go for the GS4 GPE.

  • Brendon Brown

    Google Play Edition any day … Z1 Google Play edition would be awesome , the Camera software problem would be gone aswell … GPE Z1 such a good idea

  • NeedName

    The price of GPE devices it too high. I can get a Z Ultra for over $150 less than the GPE. . . if the bloody thing had decent ROM activity/support I would buy one and put a ROM on it.

  • Milton

    who cares about nexus? I love my touchwiz s4. nexus has little no no features and is a phone for poor people.

    • joemama

      U sir are a clown

    • Keith Calisay

      You sir did not get the real point in here do you?? Eat your s4 in the dumpster. Hypocrite

    • SeraZR™

      Go home Touchpiss

    • Jay Skeetor

      Really, poor people. I can afford any phone I want. I bought two Nexus 5’s. Seriously. Any phone I want there you keyboard ninja. I ultimately purchase off contract to get the best price I can for the entire year without being locked into a contract. With my wife’s and my combined income we are in the top 98% of earners in this country so screw your poor people comment. I bet you are poor relative to us. So tell me again what you SD card and .1 GHZ faster processor do for ya except give you bragging rights to something you don’t even use. Try and think before you post sir.

  • Bambang Hermanto

    I think it all comes down to what you need from the devices. Surely the Nexus devices can offer more than enough for daily basis usage, but the absence of microSD card is a major drawback to my taste. I’m a gamer and movie hoarder.

  • Terrence Godchaux

    Spec camera’s and digitizers are unnecessary for me, and I prefer ‘no-bloat’ pure Android anyway, so the Nexus is definitely my choice. My only wish would be removable storage. Using an OTG cable and thumb drive works, but is gangly and messy.

  • Start putting your things in the cloud, and you can use any nexus device. You should be able to use an 8gb device, as they want you to use their cloud. I don’t see the point of loading up your device with all the content, because it will slow your load time. Also, the SD card does as well. Just my OP

    • loonz123

      Unless I’m at home, I don’t have a wifi signal and for a good portion of the day I don’t even have a mobile data signal. That’s why I like to store my content locally and not in the cloud.

      • Arturo Raygoza

        exactly, everybody thinks everyone lives in San Francisco or something. I work 10 miles away from a town all day and can’t get a signal worth a damn besides even if I do why do I want to wait and buffer every song I wanna hear? and why must I burden everyone else connected to the cell phone tower just because I want to hear music all day?

        • Same applies to you, find a company that has good service In your area. Just doesn’t make sense to stay with someone who gives you bad service. Why do that?

          • noservice

            Probably because he is in a location where none of the mobile providers offers the kind of service you are talking about. How are they supposed to “find a company” that doesn’t exist? There are a lot of people around the world in such a situation. Like the man said, everybody doesn’t live in San Francisco.

          • I don’t live there either, lol. So now what?

      • You need to find a provider that has good service in your area. Why stay with a company that’s not giving you what you pay for? Makes no sense.

    • yeahright

      With that statement, your brain must be in the cloud.

      • Go away cloud, and get a real comment. Add value, now bounce.

  • simpleasker

    I only use phones with touch wiz. I really thank Samsung for it. Touch wiz nova prime = most features and perfect.

    • loonz123

      Go figure. The only thing I hate about Samsung phones is touchwiz. It’s just too Gingerbreadesque; It needs to grow up.

    • Albert Espinosa

      Nova gives you the Nexus look..

  • Oli72

    Nexus and gpe is great for google and customers.

  • chenxiaolong

    I would always choose a Nexus over a GPE device for the simple fact that Google provides the necessary source code for creating custom ROMs.

    I can only speak for the Samsung Galaxy S4 GPE, but while it has an unlocked bootloader, Samsung made quite a few modifications to the framework and binaries such that they don’t work with AOSP. To this day, we still don’t know why the GPS and compass don’t work quote right on AOSP-based ROMs (even though they do on the regular models).

    I wish the manufacturers would actually work off AOSP for the GPE models. If you decompile the framework of the S4 GPE, you’ll find quite a few remnants of TouchWiz (like some code from multi-window).

  • Tyler

    Nexus devices are designed to be great devices at a mid-price point and they do that very well. Higher end specs and features appeal to me more so I prefer GPE or skinned android devices more.

  • Jesus

    GPE. If I get bored, install Cyanogenmod, which is pretty much stock, if not better.

  • Enoch Gunatilleke

    Hey Josh, what I expect in a phone is that it has great specs at a great price.

  • Lee

    One *crucial* difference between Nexus and GPE?

    Source code.
    – With Nexus devices you get full kernel and platform source code via the initial Google AOSP release.
    – With GPE, typically, you get kernel sources only.

    Neither programme guarantees long-term vendor support and updates. The full AOSP source with the Nexus devices at least give those who are willing and able a shot at getting updates via community projects such as Cyanogenmod and AOKP..