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When it comes to mobile phones, the majority of users chose between one of two systems: Apple or Android. Android is, numbers-wise, the most used OS (it’s installed on more devices). It is also available on a wider number of devices than Apple’s system. In late June, two new Android devices, labeled as Google Play editions, were introduced, which are different from other devices.
Here is an overview of Google Play edition phones and what they could mean for Android users.
All about Google Play edition Android phones
Earlier this year, manufacturers HTC and Samsung each released flagship phones – the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4. Both of these phones have the latest, and greatest hardware and specifications, and were heralded by many as the best phones on the market.
Unfortunately, due to the open nature of Android, many manufacturers put their own skin (how the software looks to us) on these devices. Compare an HTC Android phone with a Samsung Android phone and you can see they both handle the operating system differently. While the skins are usually good, they do pose a problem: When Google updates Android, the manufacturers have to update these too.
Google’s latest version of Android is – 4.2.2. The HTC One runs Android 4.2.1, which is more than a year old by now. This has led to a fragmented market whereby older devices will probably never see updates that Google releases.
Google’s answer to this has been to create the Nexus line of devices running what is called Stock Android. This is pure Google, and Nexus devices usually get Android updates as soon as Google releases them.
In May, 2013, after the HTC One and S4 had been released, an announcement was made that these two phones would be released without the skins and running Stock Android instead. Google called these Google Play editions, as they are sold on Google Play, the Android marketplace.
Google Play editions of the HTC One and Samsung S4, which are available now from the Play store, are phones with the exact same hardware as the versions sold by HTC and Samsung. The only difference is that they lack the skins and extras added by the two companies.
Nexus vs Google Play edition devices
As we stated above, Google has their own version of devices that run Stock Android. The question some users have been asking is what the difference is between the two product lines. Well, the Nexus is a Google branded phone. Sure it’s made by a manufacturer (Samsung and LG have both made them), but the key with Nexus devices is that they are what Google deems to be the “best” phone.
Google Play editions are marketed as versions of popular phones that run Stock Android. They are manufactured by one of the major companies and branded as such. Basically these editions give you the best of both worlds: Advanced hardware coupled with the latest version of Android.
The reason this is big news is because it marks a potential change in the way Google views Android. It could eventually lead to one operating system across multiple phones. Think of something like Apple’s iOS, only it’s on 10 different types of phone, not one. Of course this is a long way off, but it’s a start. In other words, this could lead to a shift away from shopping for an OS and device, to shopping just for the device.
How do I buy Google Play edition phones?
The devices are both available on the Google Play store, and will be shipped from July 9, 2013 onwards. The S4 will cost USD$649 while the HTC One will cost USD$599. They will be sold unlocked, so you will be able to use them world-wide, as long as the network is compatible.
Should I buy one?
To many users looking for a new phone, especially those in North America, these devices may seem quite expensive but they actually don’t cost any more than any other high-end smartphone. They just lack the usual carrier subsidy. The trade off is: They are unlocked, so you can use your phone wherever you go.
If you plan to travel lots, or don’t want to be tied down to one mobile company, phones like these are a good idea. What’s more, they have the most advanced mobile hardware available. If you take care of the device, there is no reason why it should not last at least 2-3 years or more.
These phones are also ideal for users who want the latest and greatest software from Google. You can guarantee that you will get updates almost as soon as they are out.
If you are looking to upgrade your phone, why not contact us today? We should be able to help find you one that’s the best fit.
Published on 4th July 2013 by Jeanne DeWitt.