Is the Galaxy S4 running stock Android a better option than Samsung's original S4?

What is your biggest criticism of the Samsung Galaxy S4? The plastic build? Forget it, Samsung’s not about to change that any time soon. The familiar design? Well, now you are just nitpicking. But if you think it’s the software and the TouchWiz gimmicks, then Google and Samsung have a solution for you.

Last night at Google I/O’s keynote address, Google’s Hugo Barra unveiled the Galaxy S4 ‘Google Edition’, which is basically an unlocked Galaxy S4 without all the overbearing TouchWiz bogging it down. That’s right, the new Galaxy S4 runs a completely stock version of Android, the way Google intended it to be. What’s more, it comes with the same hardware prowess that’s earned the S4 rave reviews already. And it has an unlocked bootloader, which means it is well-suited for the ROM development scene. Considering that there wasn’t a new Nexus device announced yesterday, we could say that this is Google’s new take on that series.

The best option out there?

The best option out there?


It all looks too good to be true till we see the price, of course. At $649, it’s in stark contrast to what is the Nexus way of things and in fact, Samsung is selling the TouchWiz-running S4 for $629 on its USA e-store. But let’s not get bogged down by the pricing. It is after all a first of its kind endeavour and one we hope will be applied to devices like the HTC One, Sony Xperia Z and other flagships.

If and when this phone does come to India, and it’s very likely, considering it is an unlocked handset, it will be priced between Rs 36,000 and Rs 40,000. However, there are certain trade-offs if going for the newer variant. Firstly, Samsung’s camera firmware has a lot more features than the stock AOSP version. For example, things like Drama Shot, Sound & Shot will be missing from the newer model. This is, of course, the case even when flashing aftermarket ROMs. So some extra functionality will have to be sacrificed to get timely Android updates and a bloatware-free experience.

The question is whether the Google-sanctioned Galaxy S4 is the best smartphone option for Android. For many, the advantages score more than the missing pieces, while others will prefer the extra features baked in by Samsung, which by the way are available for a lesser price in the USA. We’d like to find out what you guys think is the better option. Do cast your vote in the poll below and let us know in the comments why you’ve picked one or the other.

Published Date: May 16, 2013 03:29 pm | Updated Date: May 16, 2013 03:29 pm