Google's Samsung Galaxy S4 in all its minimalistic goodness

Tech Industry
Hello everybody. It's Lynn La from CNET, and today, I have with me the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play edition. By now, you should be pretty well acquainted with the device given that it's been available from carriers for a couple of months now. However, Google's unlocked variant just hit stores, and you might be wondering what the difference is. For the most part, not much. Physically, you won't see a carrier logo or the words Galaxy S4 on the back. In addition, hardware specs are all the same. This includes the same beautiful 5-inch 1080p touchscreen, the same 2.6 ampere-hour battery and the same quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor, previously seen in the US model. So what exactly has changed then? Well, for one thing, you won't get Samsung's TouchWiz UI. Rather, this GS4 runs the skinless 4.2.2 Jelly Bean OS, which I frankly find more elegant and user friendly. You also won't get the usual slew of carrier and Samsung-branded bloatware, just your usual lineup of Google apps, like Chrome, Gmail and Maps. This does make a difference in terms of the amount of available space you get out of the box. True, the GS4 does have expandable memory up to 64 Gigs and you could always uninstall some of the apps that come preloaded, but with the 16-Gig model at least starting out, you'll get 12 Gigs of storage with Google's S4 compared to about 9 Gigs from carrier editions. Unfortunately, with Samsung's branding stripped away, so goes a lot of cool software features that some users might find really useful. For instance, you won't get those neat eye control functions that automatically pause videos or keeps the display lit by sensing your eye movements. Earlier versions of the GS4 also let you use the touchscreen with gloves on, and it could simultaneously display more than one app on the screen at a time. These features and many other photo features for the 13-megapixel camera won't be natively available on the handset. The 4G LTE device is optimized for GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile, and while it's not a Nexus-branded device, Google has confirmed that their S4 will receive updates as quickly as any other Google edition handset. Now, the smartphone does come at a pretty penny however. And while at $649 price tag isn't uncommon or even unusual for a top-tier unlocked phone in the US, it is still a steep price compared to S4's under contract. Ultimately, if you're a diehard Android enthusiast, or someone who wants total freedom from a carrier, or someone who can simply afford it, you won't be disappointed with the device. For everyone else, however, it may be more economical to get the GS4 with the carrier. Again, I'm Lynn, and you've been checking out the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play edition.

Up Next

Texas Sues Facebook Over Facial Recognition, Apple Could Release 3 New Macs Soon
tt-02-15-2022-00-00-47-13-still047

Up Next

Texas Sues Facebook Over Facial Recognition, Apple Could Release 3 New Macs Soon

Vaccinated Amazon employees can remove their masks, Samsung offers some high-end phones and tablets
tt-screenshot-021222

Vaccinated Amazon employees can remove their masks, Samsung offers some high-end phones and tablets

Choosing the best webcam
how-to-webcams-00-22-09-02-still087

Choosing the best webcam

Apple addresses AirTag tacking concerns, YouTube outlines new creator features
100-apple-airtags-2021

Apple addresses AirTag tacking concerns, YouTube outlines new creator features

I attended Samsung's Galaxy S22 event in the metaverse. It did not feel great
samsung-metaverse

I attended Samsung's Galaxy S22 event in the metaverse. It did not feel great

Samsung's Bridgerton spoof makes fun of Apple
bridgerton-sb-v1-00-00-19-03-still001.png

Samsung's Bridgerton spoof makes fun of Apple

Samsung's Unpacked event in 11 minutes
s22-ultra1

Samsung's Unpacked event in 11 minutes

Oscars Nominations Are In, Apple Announces Tap to Pay on iPhone
apple-apple-pay-transaction-big-jpg-large

Oscars Nominations Are In, Apple Announces Tap to Pay on iPhone

Spirit and Frontier airlines are merging, Verizon's contracts extended to 3 years
tt-02-08-22-thumb

Spirit and Frontier airlines are merging, Verizon's contracts extended to 3 years

Joe Rogan apologizes for racial slurs, Amazon rumored to buy Peloton
gettyimages-1367949987

Joe Rogan apologizes for racial slurs, Amazon rumored to buy Peloton

Tech Shows

The Apple Core
apple-core.png

The Apple Core

Alphabet City
alphabet-city.png

Alphabet City

CNET Top 5
top-5.png

CNET Top 5

The Daily Charge
the-daily-charge.png

The Daily Charge

What the Future
what-the-future.png

What the Future

Tech Today
tech-today.png

Tech Today

Cooley On Cars
on-cars.png

Cooley On Cars

Carfection
carfection.png

Carfection

Latest News

Leesa Reserve vs Tempur-Pedic: Which Memory Foam Bed Is Best for You?
The Leesa Reserve mattress and the Tempur-Pedic mattress against a colorful background with a versus logo in the front.

Leesa Reserve vs Tempur-Pedic: Which Memory Foam Bed Is Best for You?

The Future of AR Glasses at AWE 2024
scott-thumb-2

The Future of AR Glasses at AWE 2024

TCL 115-inch TV Unboxing: OMG This Thing is Huge
tcl115inch-00-02-53-17-still001

TCL 115-inch TV Unboxing: OMG This Thing is Huge

Driving 4,000 Miles in Lotus' New EV Was Brutal and I Loved It
lotuscmsstill

Driving 4,000 Miles in Lotus' New EV Was Brutal and I Loved It

A Closer Look at Apple's AI: What We Didn't Hear in the WWDC Keynote
One More Thing Thumbnail

A Closer Look at Apple's AI: What We Didn't Hear in the WWDC Keynote

Dreamfoam Essential Mattress Review: The Ultimate Mattress for RVs and Trailers?
The Dreamfoam Essential mattress against a colorful background with a man's hands pushing down on the side of the bed.

Dreamfoam Essential Mattress Review: The Ultimate Mattress for RVs and Trailers?

Saatva Latex Hybrid Mattress Review: Should You Buy It?
The Saatva Latex Hybrid mattress sits on a bed frame while a man tests the edge of the mattress against a colorful background.

Saatva Latex Hybrid Mattress Review: Should You Buy It?

Lull Original Premium Mattress Review: A Cut Above Lull's Original Bed
The Lull Original Premium mattress with a man laying on top of the bed against a colorful background.

Lull Original Premium Mattress Review: A Cut Above Lull's Original Bed

Nolah Signature Mattress Review: Best Bed for Side Sleepers?
The Casper Wave mattress with a man laying on top of the bed against a colorful background.

Nolah Signature Mattress Review: Best Bed for Side Sleepers?

Our Mattress Experts Unbox Bear's Brand With Scott Paladini
Three people in a room filled with mattresses against a colorful background

Our Mattress Experts Unbox Bear's Brand With Scott Paladini