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Galaxy S4 and HTC One - Google Edition

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Now that doesn’t mean that the Nexus 4 is outdated by any stretch, it’s just that we “Android enthusiasts” tend to be on the bleeding edge tech side of things (even when our financial positions shouldn’t allow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