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Google-ized HTC One M8 now on sale for $699

The Google Play version of HTC's new flagship phone comes with Android working how Google thinks it should work, including with swift updates.

The Google Play edition of the HTC One M8
The Google Play edition of the HTC One M8 Google

If you want to buy a phone that marries the HTC One M8's slick new design with Google's version of the Android interface, you can buy it right now -- but you won't get it immediately.

The Google Play version of the HTC One M8 is now for sale on the Google Play store in the US for a price of $699 (the link may not work outside the US). That's an unlocked version that works on GSM networks such as those from AT&T and T-Mobile.

Handset makers such as Huawei, LG Electronics, Samsung, HTC, Sony, and Motorola all customize Android to different degrees with their own features and graphics, but a lot of people prefer Google's Android flavor as cleaner and less bloated -- and that's updated more swiftly. That's the OS that comes with the Nexus series of phones, and it's what's available on the Google Play variations of non-Nexus phones.

"The Google Play edition phones automatically receive updates of the latest Android software," Google said on the site. They're "Optimized for the latest apps, [offer] more storage for your content, and [have] a fast, clean user experience."

There's a wait for the Google Play version of the HTC One M8, though. The shipment time right now shows as two to three weeks.

Ordinarily the HTC One comes with version six of the Taiwanese company's Sense interface.

The HTC One M8 has a metal unibody enclosure, 5-inch 1,920x1,080 screen, 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, powerful front-facing speakers, 2GB of RAM, a microSD card slot, a 2,600 mAh battery, and either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage.

The new phone has drawn praise from the press -- except for its hit-or-miss camera performance. It's got an unusual two-lens main camera that's got relatively low resolution at 4 megapixels but that offers depth-related effects like backgrounds that are blurred out or desaturated. Those features work on the Google Play version of the phone, Google said.

"Duo Camera features an Ultrapixel camera that is engineered with larger pixels to capture more light and a depth sensor to automatically measure the distance between objects," Google said. "You can blur backgrounds and highlight your subject, change focus after you've taken your shot, and even add 3D-style dimension and depth."

The Google Play edition of the HTC One M8 shown on sale at Google's site.
The Google Play edition of the HTC One M8 shown on sale at Google's site. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET