There had been recent talks that Google was becoming wary of Samsung’s continued dominance of the Android market. It certainly didn’t help that Samsung decided to focus on all of the Samsung-developed software features at the Galaxy S4 even in New York, rather than elaborate on the Android OS that ran it. Well, those rumors can be set aside for now as Samsung has decided to play nice with Google to come out with a Galaxy S4 running vanilla Android. That’s right, no TouchWiz. Just a Galaxy S4 Google Edition device with absolutely non of the bloatware.
There will undoubtedly be a lot of interest in a Google Galaxy S4 of sorts, although it will likely be limited to the geekier crowds, but there is actually a lot of benefits to having a Samsung Galaxy S4 with stock Android. First is that you’re essentially getting a Nexus device and will receive updates about the same time as other Nexus devices. You’ll also free up a lot of space that you can use for phone storage. The TouchWiz version of the Galaxy S4 only has about 9.15Gb in phone storage, which is further reduced by the apps that come preloaded on the device. You also get LTE, which the LG-made Nexus 4 doesn’t have. Finally, the Google Edition of the Samsung Galaxy S4 will come with an unlocked bootloader, something that will appeal to a lot of people who like to customize and maximize their phones to no end.
Of course, there are some drawbacks too. Currently, the only way you can get the Google Galaxy S4 is through the official Play Store, which makes it that much harder for Filipinos to purchase it at the moment. It’s pricey too. It will cost $649 plus taxes, then there are shipping fees to consider if you’re going to have a relative ship it to you home. Finally, you won’t get any of those Samsung-developed software features. Sure, there’s so many of them that it’s unlikely that you’d actually use them, but some of them are actually pretty neat. I particularly like Smart Stay and all of the camera features that they’ve baked into the device.
As to why Samsung and Google are coming out with a Google Galaxy S4, it’s hardly about the sales. After all, the geeky modder crowd is still a small one compared to the mass market that Samsung is targeting. But it’s not about that. It’s about solidifying an alliance between two tech giants that have made each other very successful over the past few years. Google certainly wouldn’t benefit if they alienated Samsung enough to accelerate their development of the Tizen platform and Samsung would be in a bad place if Google suddenly denied them certification and permission to use Google-based services on their phones.
The Google Edition of the Galaxy S4 will become available on the Play Store on June 26, but that’s only for the US market. No word yet on when it might roll out internationally. So what would you prefer? A Google Edition Galaxy S4 or the TouchWiz version?