The two best Android phones on the market are getting the Google treatment.
Beginning tomorrow, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One will be sold online at the Google Play Store. These will be different versions than those already available through carriers such as Verizon and AT&T. These Google edition devices will come without their manufacturers' custom (and often derided) user interfaces -- Samsung TouchWiz and HTC Sense -- and instead will have the stock Android operating system.
They also will be SIM "unlocked," meaning they are not limited to use with one wireless company. You can use them on GSM carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile in the United States and others overseas, and they will work on LTE networks. Because these phones are not tied to carriers, they will come without the many carrier-branded apps (I've counted up to 12 on some phones) that are preloaded on most Android devices.
A big advantage to these Google editions is that as part of Google's Nexus program, these phones will get operating system updates promptly, as they will come directly from Google.
Typically, when Google releases a new version of Android, it must first go through the carriers, and it can take months before users see the new software.
All of this Google goodness comes at a price, though. Because these phones are not subsidized by carriers, you will pay about three times as much as you would if you signed up for a wireless contract. For many people, paying more upfront doesn't make sense because they are going to stay with one carrier for two years or more. If that describes you, then both of these devices are widely available from most wireless carriers.
But for some, the freedom to change carriers and the ability to get prompt software updates make these devices attractive choices. Google has had its Nexus program for some time, but previously the device choices were less appealing than the top-selling smartphones being sold through carriers. This is the first time the latest and greatest hardware has been available straight from Google.
Copyright 2013 Columbia Daily Tribune. All rights reserved.
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