Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition vs Samsung Galaxy S4: What's the difference?

Google has announced that it will be selling its own version of the Samsung Galaxy S4, the latest Android handset from the Korean giant. 

We've seen the Samsung Galaxy S4, reviewed it, and loved it. It might not offer the design of the HTC One, or be leaps and bounds ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S3 in tech specs, but there's a lot to love about this handset.

With Google making the announcement on stage at Google I/O 2013, it leaves us wondering exactly what the differences between them will be.

1. No TouchWiz

This is the biggest difference: the SGS4 comes with Samsung's user interface layered over the top. It changes just about everything visually, as well as bringing a huge range of features to the device. The SGS4 Google Edition dumps the lot, landing with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

That means everything will look like Android, behave like Android, just as Google intended. S Beam will become straight Beam, there will be no S Voice, no smart stay or smart scroll, no S Health. It will be clean and unfettered.

2. Updates

Samsung isn't the worst when it comes to pushing out updates, but Google has said that the SGS4 Google Edition will get timely updates, just like the Google Nexus devices. That means that when there's a new version or feature in Android, like Android 4.3 or the rumoured next interation Key Lime Pie, you'll be able to get it, without waiting for Samsung as you will with the regular SGS4.

3. Storage

The Samsung Galaxy S4 has been criticised because, although the internal memory is 16GB, you get only 9GB to actually use. Yes, Samsung's software eats a huge chunk. With the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition ditching the software, you'll probably get more like 13GB to use. 

Of course, the regular SGS4 comes with options for 32 or 64GB as well, which you'll not get here. However - and this is a significant point - like the conventional version the SGS4 Google Edition will let you expand the memory via microSD, something that Google's own Nexus 4 won't let you do. The SGS4 GE will likely be the pure Android storage king.

4. Price

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition will be available through Google Play for $649 (£425) unlocked on 26 June, so will work on all networks. The Samsung Galaxy S4 unlocked will cost you anywhere up to around $800. The Nexus 4, on the other hand, costs $349, so there's a substantial difference in pricing.

Unfortunately, there has been no word on pricing or availability outside of the US at the moment, but we hope to see it for sale in the UK too. In the meantime UK users could use a service like Bundlebox to have it shipped to a US address before being sent on to them in the UK. You will have to pay import taxes and courier costs on top of the $649 price tag. 

So which should I get?

Obviously, although the SGS4 and the SGS4 Google Edition offer the same hardware and design, they do eaccome with a radically different software experience. We can't help feeling that given how good the experience is with the Nexus 4, the SGS4 Google Edition will be a fantastic Android device, bringing you plenty of power, svelte design, a high-resolution display and hopefully a camera experience that's worth getting excited about.

But the other consideration is cost. You won't be getting subsidies or rebates on the Google Edition; you'll have to pay the price upfront. Although the SGS4 Google Edition will offer you a lot of smartphone, it's almost double the price of the current Nexus 4 model that Google offers.

READ: Samsung Galaxy S4 review