Google I/O just kicked off recently and the opening Day 1 Keynote featured a ton of Android and Chrome features, including all new APIs for developers to play around with. There really wasn’t any hardware released at the expect, as expected, but one new device did make an appearance and it was, at least for me, the most surprising and unforeseen announcement. Google released a Galaxy S4 with stock Android.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has been a runaway success with all of Samsung’s nifty and innovative features. It’s supposed to have sold more than 6 million units as of this writing. The design has got knocked more than once for being cheap and boring. Design aside, this phone is a solid piece of hardware with top notch specifications and the latest technologies, which makes it the perfect candidate for the flagship Android phone.
Now onto the subject of this article and that’s the fact that Google has taken the Galaxy S4 and dipped into of bucket of pure 4.2 Jelly Bean. The phone is exactly the same with bone stock Android 4.2. The device comes with 16GB of storage, support for AT&T and T-Mobile LTE while being unlocked, and is retailing for $650 on Google Play. Google’s handling everything on the software end by providing the latest updates as soon as they come out so no more waiting on OEMs and carriers. Google calls this the “Nexus Experience Galaxy S4″, which is a terrible name as I would fine for something along the lines of ‘Galaxy Nexus S4′.
What Google has essentially done is taken the best Android hardware and put their take on the Android OS on it. It’s like an option for consumers and developers to get a phone from an established company while still keeping the software free of any obtrusive or laggy skins. It’s a great idea for Google to take top tier flagships from various Android manufacturers and repackage them as ‘Nexus’ devices. The question is whether Google will continue making only these Nexus Experience devices by taking the HTC One, Xperia Z, Optimus G Pro, etc and adding stock Android. It would be an amazing option for consumers and some devs.
Google may decide to kill off the Nexus phones that they make. Firstly, Google has never tried to make a profit on these things as far as we know so it wasn’t really a revenue source for them. Secondly, the Nexus line has always been a developer device that became a consumer phone when people realized that they don’t care for the manufacturer skins. Google has also used these phones as reference devices for other OEMs to see and take design cues from. An example of this is how Google incorporated on-screen buttons in the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4, which slowly spilled over into other phone, most recently, like the Sony Xperia Z. The Nexus phone is a reference and developer phone that works for consumers too.
The truth is that Google could continue to make Nexus phones and also make Nexus Experience devices simultaneously or they could just do only one of the two. This is all speculation from the release of the Nexus Experience Galaxy S4 which, for all we know, is just a little experiment that means nothing.