Android watchers clued-up on the latest happenings are eagerly waiting to see the performance of the just-released Google editions of Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One. Anticipations are rather high especially after the standard editions of the two smartphones – current flagships of their corresponding manufacturers – took the market by storm. The common feature – the highlight – of both devices is that they both run on the untouched version of Google’s mobile operating system, which, until now, has been exclusive to Google’s tailor-made Nexus devices. That’s what has kindled much of the curiosity on how the two will vie with each other!
The pure Android experience
Either handset is designed to give you the pure vanilla Android experience on the best hardware available today. Both devices feature the pure latest Android 4.2.2. Jelly Bean version instead of the customized software from the manufacturers, providing an interface free from the proprietary overlays and bloatware. They come as unlocked handsets, so there is no need to tie up with cellular carriers. As pure Android devices, they are fortunate to receive quick and direct updates from Google, free from carrier-related delays.
Key differences from standard editions
The Galaxy S4 Google edition lacks some Samsung-specific features as it is devoid of Samsung’s TouchWiz Nature UX 2.0. The standard S4 allows you to run two apps simultaneously in a split window, a feature that is absent in the Google edition. The Google version has stronger alarm sounds compared to the soft melodies of the standard version. Its camera lacks some features like dual shots and has lesser shooting modes compared to the standard version.
Similarly, the HTC One Google edition lacks a few HTC-specific features as it does not have HTC’s Sense 5 UI. So, its UltraPixel Camera will lack the Zoe feature, which can stack several images to show action. The standard HTC One allows you to slide icons on the lock screen to make calls, send texts or click photos, whereas the Google edition requires you to unlock the screen to get the icons to do the job.
Nevertheless, the pure Android experience has much to do with a clutter-free interface, which is otherwise bloated with apps and features that makes it complex to use.
Both phones have a 360-degree panorama called “Photo Sphere,” slightly modifying the basic camera features. The Google editions also come with useful add-ons specific to each device.
Google Galaxy S4 has a magnetic sensor that allows compatibility with the S-View flip cover. The sensor detects the closed mode and switches to a different mode to let you view the time and caller details via a window on the cover, so you can respond to calls without having to flip-open the cover.
Google HTC One features the standard version’s front-facing speakers that enhances sound while watching videos or listening to music.
Galaxy S4’s Google edition features a solid plastic design measuring 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm, and weighs 130g.
The HTC One is slightly taller than the Galaxy S4 and its edges slant slightly inward towards the display. It measures 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3mm and weighs 143g. Its aluminum body is unbeatable, rendering a solid feel.
Google Galaxy S4 features a Super AMOLED 4.99-inch touch-sensitive display having a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a pixel density of 441ppi.
Google HTC One sports a slightly smaller 4.7-inch Super LCD 3 display with RGB Matrix. The touch-sensitive display has a screen-resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a pixel density of 468ppi.
Hardware, Processor and Storage
Both the devices have ports for micro-USB and headphones.
The Galaxy S4 version is powered by a quad-core 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor and Qualcomm Adreno 320 graphics. It features a 2GB RAM and 16GB storage.
The HTC One version is powered by a quad-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor. It has the same Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB RAM as the S4 version. Its 32GB onboard storage is higher than its counterpart.
Both the Google editions are unlocked versions that support 4G LTE speeds. They are compatible with T-Mobile and AT&T and with carriers using GSM cellular technology; they are not compatible with CDMA networks of Verizon Wireless and Sprint.
Both the devices support NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11a/b/g/n/ac. The Galaxy S4 version also supports DLNA.
The Galaxy S4 version features a 13MP rear camera and 2MP front camera.
The HTC One version has a 4MP rear camera with UltraPixel image sensor and a 2.1MP front camera.
The Google version of Galaxy S4 has a 2,600mAh battery while that of HTC One has a 2,300mAh battery.
Pricing and availability
The Google version of Samsung Galaxy S4 is priced at $649, while that of HTC One is cheaper, priced at $599. By comparison, the standard version of either phone can be bought for $100 to $200 via wireless carriers for a two-year subscription. Google is making them available from July 9th and has offered free shipment.
The Google editions of both Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One render an exceptionally simple feel free from the clutter of added bloatware. It gives you the independence to add your preferred widgets to the homescreen rather than force you.
The steep price and the requirement to pay it in full may intimidate some, especially when compared to subsidized prices that wireless carriers are offering with agreements. Lack of compatibility on CDMA networks of Verizon and Sprint may be disappointing. The handsets are available only on Google Play Store, another drawback.