Samsung Galaxy S4 gets Android Nexus treatment for $649

Samsung Galaxy S4 gets Android Nexus treatment for $649

Summary: The unlocked Nexus-ish Galaxy S4 will quantify the market for a pure Android experience with Google pushing updates.

Samsung Galaxy S4

Google said that the Samsung Galaxy S4 will be available without the Korean electronics maker's software overlays and pure Android for $649 unlocked.

The move, which got cheers from developers at Google I/O, addresses a market niche. Google is essentially going to sell Samsung's latest phone in its Play store June 26 and give it the Nexus treatment. The device will be unlocked, have LTE support and work on AT&T and T-Mobile.

 Hugo Barra, vice president of project management Android, said Google will also provide the latest updates for Android in a speedy fashion. 

The move is probably a win-win for the Google-Samsung partnership. Samsung will sell a few more Galaxy S4 devices. Google gets an extension of its Nexus program for those folks that want the pure Android skin.

Now the real thing worth tracking will be sales of this unlocked Galaxy S4. The unlocked Nexus-ish Galaxy S4 will quantify the market for a pure Android experience with Google pushing updates.

Does the pure Android experience on the Samsung Galaxy S4 change the value proposition of the phone?

More from Google I/O: I/O 2013: Google's location APIs likely to fuel Google Glass apps | Google gives digital music another look with Play Music All-Access | Google developer tool releases include new Maps, Games, Google+ APIs | Google I/O by the numbers: 900 million Android activations | Google to use open-source sensors to monitor I/O conference

Topics: Google, Mobility, Samsung, Smartphones

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  • So much...

    So much for Samsung forking Android. If anything, this move shows Samsung is aware that there's a market for pure Android devices with no extraneous skins and add ons and is happy to feed it. Not the sign of a Smartphone manufacturer who wants to for the OS.
    • might be

      Google just realised it is critical that they intervene now and not let Samsung slip away.

      Samsung of course would prefer to sell more Galaxy S4 hardware.
      • Samsung slipping away?

        Samsung has become the high watermark in Android development and Google is slowly adopting what Samsung is doing in new versions of Android. They are taking some of Samsung's initiatives and making it standard across the platform. It's of little benefit to Samsung users but a huge benefit to the rest of the Android community who can benefit from Samsung's Android development.
    • But, is there a Market for...

      But is there a market for overpriced Samsung ”pure” Android phones ?
    • Re: So much for Samsung forking Android

      And so much for those who claim that Samsung somehow "dominates" Android.
      • Samsung dominates Android

        Google releasing their own S4 simply says they are backing the dominant horse in the race.
        • Re: Google releasing their own S4

          By "their own" did you mean Google or Samsung?
    • Just what is the mark-up for the S4?

      Reports are that this Google S4 is exactly the same as the Samsung S4, except for the overlay UI. Reports also indicate that the Google S4 will be US$649. At the moment, it seems that the Samsung S4 is AUD$850 or there abouts. It is a difficult comparison, especially give how we pay an "Australia tax" for technology, but even taking into consideration those types of issues, there is still, seemingly a huge gap in price. So, does Samsung charge a motza simply to add its own UI to a free OS or what is going on?
  • Too Expensive

    I have the Nexus 4 and I am very happy. I won't be upgrading to this overpriced phone.
    • N4 is missing LTE

      Biggest reason I skipped it.
      Now if this was offered via ATT ot TMo at subsidized prices as is .....
  • Nokia Lumia 520 is available for $130

    Why would anyone spend $649 for an overpriced plastic that spies on the user all the time.
    • Because the S4 and 520 don't compete?

      I would agree that the 520 stacks up nicely against low cost Android smartphones but not against the S4. Samsung and Google deserve kudos for their excellent devices, as do Microsoft and Nokia. The Lumia 92X phones make great competition for high end smartphones as does the WP8 powered Samsung Ativ S. No one else in this market has released anything good. Maybe HTC with their highly rated One? Those are your only rational choices at that level though. Everything else sucks big time.
      • Perhaps...

        The Nexus 4?
      • LG Optimus G is pretty good

        My LGOG is pretty nice. 4.7 Inch display and a Quad core CPU.
      • Perhaps this is the beginning of a Nexus wave

        While I might spend $649 on an Nexus S4, I would rather purchase a Nexus HTC One for the same price. Perhaps we will see more devices that are managed by Google, now that T-Mobile (and to a lesser extent, AT&T) has opened the door to user-owned devices in the US mobile market.

        All that said, the Nexus 4 certainly seems like a better deal than the Nexus S4, at about half the price with the same capabilities. However, both are fragile kits, and I have active kids...
        • Perhaps my phone should be MY phone

          What does active kids have to do with YOUR phone ? Your phone is your phone, not theirs. Please teach them at an early age not to mess with stuff that doesn't belong to them. I cring everytime I see a toddler start to act up and mom or dad just hands them their phone. It just reinforces a bad behavior.
          • Weak parents

            make spoiled kids. No matter your political or social orientation, if you don't give children limits they will grow up to be rotten to other people.
    • You can't compare the two

      One of them is a low end handset, the other is a flagship.
      Michael Alan Goff
    • Re: Nokia Lumia 520 is available for $130

      (That's the sound of excited customers rushing to buy.)
    • Overpriced

      Since when $649 for a top smartphone is overpriced?

      Here in Europe unlocked Galaxy S4 costs $780 to $880 depending on country.