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!
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.
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!
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.