Galaxy S4 “Nexus” could be a software-modified T-Mobile unit, report says

by: Chris SmithMay 18, 2013


The special Galaxy S4 “Nexus” edition may be a software-modified T-Mobile Galaxy S4 model (SGH-M919), a new report shows, which could be good news for existing and future T-Mobile Galaxy S4 owners.

According to AnandTech, the available evidence suggests that the Galaxy S4 Nexus edition is actually based on the T-Mobile version, a device that best meets the hardware criteria.

Google revealed little on stage when announcing its partnership with Samsung to sell a Galaxy S4 version running stock Android OS. The device doesn’t have an actual product name to differentiate it from the other Galaxy S4 units out there – which is why we call it Galaxy S4 Nexus or Galaxy S4 Google Edition – but it’s not a Nexus-branded device as you’d expect it to be. Moreover, a model number for the handset is not available either, and we’re yet to see an FCC filing for it.

Google-IO-Galaxy S4 Google Edition price 1600 aa

What’s known about it is that Google will start selling it from the Google Play Store on June 26 for $649, or what an unsubsidized Galaxy S4 already costs. n terms of hardware, the handset will offer 16GB of storage and support LTE with both AT&T and T-Mobile. In addition to being carrier-unlocked, the handset will also ship with its bootloader unlocked. Obviously, it will run Android 4.2.2 (or Android 4.3 right out of the box?) and will receive “prompt system updates” like any Nexus handset.

With all that in mind, let’s look at what AnandTech says about the handset:

SGH-M919 has always included support for LTE on Bands 2, 4, 5, and 17 (that’s 1900 PCS, 1700/2100 AWS, 850 Cellular, and 700 Lower B and C) and WCDMA on Bands 2, 4, and 5. At another level, this is the same hardware as the AT&T variant but without the arbitrary RAT (Radio Access Technology) locking that AT&T has put in place to restrict use of Band 4 WCDMA which T-Mobile needs for a good experience. This translates to that support for AT&T and T-Mobile LTE and WCDMA. That also means Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064AB) and no Exynos 5.

In case that will be confirmed, then current and future T-Mobile Galaxy S4 owners will have some reasons to be happy, as they’ll be able to run the Nexus firmware on their handsets instead of the TouchWiz-filled default one faster than anyone else. Of course, it makes sense to assume that the community will bring the Galaxy S4 Nexus firmware to other Galaxy S4 version in the very near future, so a stock Android Galaxy S4 experience may be just around the corner for handset buyers.

Moreover, some Galaxy S4 fans may end up purchasing a subsidized T-Mobile version in order to run the Nexus firmware on it without having to pay the full $649 for the handset, especially considering T-Mobile’s UNcarrier approach to selling smartphones, which doesn’t come with a mandatory two-year agreement.

Speaking about custom ROMs for the Galaxy S4, we’ll remind you that the T-Mobile Galaxy S4 version already has support for CyanogenMod 10.1 so it would make sense to assume that the Nexus firmware could be just as easily installed on the handset.

Google-IO-Galaxy S4 Google Edition Hugo Barra 1600 aa

However, nothing is official just yet, and we’ll have to wait for the Nexus 4 to hit stores before telling you with absolute certainty which U.S. Galaxy S4 version it resembles most.

On a different note, we’re not encouraging you to install custom ROMs on any of your devices, we’re just informing you on the available options out there, so don’t blame us if anything goes wrong during such procedures. Whatever path you decide to follow, remember that whatever will happen to your device(s) will fall under your responsibility and yours alone.

  • Galaxy S4 Google Edition. This is not a Nexus and should not have the word Nexus associated anywhere near it.

    • joser116

      Apparently the keynote itself associated this GS4 Google Edition with Nexus multiple times, who should we trust?

    • Kirk Somebody

      Sorry Derek, that’s just plain wrong. Google themselves used the word Nexus several times when they introduced this device.

    • Doug

      Derek, wouldn’t you agree that “Nexus” is more of an experience than it is a device? I would argue that some Nexus branded devices never got anything close to the Nexus experience. Namely the Nexus S4g on Sprint and the Galaxy Nexus on either CDMA carrier. I just hope that by “Nexus Experience” they mean an AOSP build. I might buy the thing, where I wouldn’t have before.

  • scb1898

    It makes sense that this would be a modified T-Mobile version. Their phones usually work with AT&T, also.

  • Atrix

    The lack of SD card on Nexus devices is actually Google’s fault since they require it to be that way

  • On a Clear Day

    Question. Would this “Nexus” S4 automatically come devoid of the Samsung features that are operative on a regular S4 – like the photo software or not needing to touch the screen? If so, then what’s the point? I’d like to do without bloatware as much as the next guy, but why buy a Ferrari, uninstall the standard, high end interior – leather, etc – and replace it with tacky plastic seats and such?

    • MasterMuffin

      If you want instant updates, then buy this. Like you said, there are people who don’t want to root, and this is actually a device for them if they want “iOs like” fast updates.

      BTW you must be a pretty big noob if you brick your device, it’s actually “hard” to do it (well, hard to do it if you aren’t trying to do it)

  • This is THE perfect Nexus phone, but WAY to expensive. I hope I can get this with a 2yr.

    • I Think you mean, WAY to averagely priced.

  • Then why even suggest throwing on a custom ROM and yet in the same breadth, say “it’s not our problem if you brick your phone”.

    If you’re gonna advocate it, go all the way. If you’re not, don’t even talk about it at all.

    • Ryozaku

      It’s called a disclaimer. Everyone has it to cover their asses for stupidity. It’s no different then printing “hot” on a coffee cup.