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Samsung Galaxy S4, Nexus-style

No, you aren't imagining things. At Google I/O 2013, Google announced a specialized, unlocked version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 that gets the full Nexus treatment. That means: bye-bye TouchWiz interface, and hello Nexus UI.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

Nexus all the way

Tap into the notifications area and you'll see that differences are more than just start-screen-deep. The profile to the left of the quick access menu belongs to Hugo Barra, Google's vice president of Android product management. Although we weren't able to handle the device yet, Barra did show it off for us.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

A dose of pure Android

It isn't clear yet which of Samsung's software additives will drop off this "Nexus" version of the Galaxy S4, but developers aren't the only ones who will appreciate this lighter OS, modeled in Google's own image of how "pure" Android could be.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

Same old Galaxy S4?

Beyond the OS differences, this Google Galaxy S4 comes with the bootloader unlocked and a promise of speedy system updates -- both a boon to developers.

The hardware components remain the same: a 5-inch HD AMOLED display with high sensitivity, a nimble quad-core Qualcomm processor, and a mighty fine 13-megapixel camera. On top of that, there's LTE support and the usual 16GB of onboard storage. You can read all about the Galaxy S4 hardware in my full review.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

Where, when, and how to buy

This GS4 variant isn't cheap, and won't ever show up in your local carrier store. However, a quick trip to the Google Play store on June 26 and $649 will get you the unlocked handset, which will run on AT&T and T-Mobile networks.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Seth Rosenblatt/CNET
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