Google Play edition phones, phablets, and tablets: Which manufacturers offer stock Android
If you'd like to know more about Google Play edition devices, you've come to the right place.
There are two new and shiny Google Play edition devices on the market, the LG G Pad 8.3 and Sony Xperia Z Ultra, bringing the total count of Google-sanctioned, stock Android smartphones and tablets to four (as of 10 December).
While that's all fine and dandy, it probably means little to those of you who are confused about what Google Play edition is and why manufacturers have released special versions of their already released products. Well, wonder no more.
Pocket-lint has broken down everything to know about Google Play edition devices. We've explained what they are, which manufacturers have embraced the niche and released them, and where you can get buy them. It's all laid out in black and white, literally. Enjoy.
What is a Google Play edition device?
A Google Play edition device, also called a Google Experience device or just Google Edition device, is basically just a Google-sanctioned Android device. It doesn't carry the Google Nexus branding, but it does run a stock build of the Android OS. Well, not completely. The OS has been changed slightly to include device-specific hardware features.
Here's the most compelling thing about a Google Play edition device: it receives software update deliveries directly from Google, though device manufacturers supply the updates. This unique process is meant to bypass carriers like AT&T, Verizon, etc, which are notoriously slow at pushing out updates and upgrading Android devices to the latest OS version.
What Google Play edition phones are available now?
Samsung Galaxy S4 - Samsung and Google announced a Google Play edition of the Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone at Google I/O 2013. Unlike the original Galaxy S4, which unveiled in March 2013, it does not run Samsung's TouchWiz interface and software. Running a stock build of Android 4.2.2, it launched in June 2013 for $649 (£394) through the Google Play Store.
HTC One - HTC announced a Google Play edition of the HTC One smartphone in May 2013. The original HTC One unveiled in February 2013. Running a stock version of Android, rather than HTC Sense, it released in June alongside the Samsung Galaxy S4 for $599 (£364) through the Google Play Store. It didn't initially launch with infrared functionality, but an update to Android 4.3 later enabled the feature.
What Google Play edition phablets are available now?
Sony Xperia Z Ultra - Sony simultaneously announced and released a Google Play edition of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra phablet on 10 December. The original phablet launched in June 2013. Unlike that version, the Google Play edition, which costs $649 (£394) through the Google Play Store, runs a stock version of Android 4.4 KitKat.
What Google Play edition tablets are available now?
LG G Pad 8.3 - LG simultaneously announced and released a Google Play edition of the LG G Pad 8.3 tablet on 10 December, which was just a few months after the original version debuted. It's the first and only tablet branded as a Google Play edition tablet. Like all the other Google Play edition devices, the LG G Pad 8.3 runs a stock version of Android 4.4 KitKat. It's available through the Google Play Store for $350 (£212).
What Google Play edition devices are coming?
Motorola Moto X - The Verge reported last August that Motorola would "soon" release a Google Play edition of the Moto X. (For reference: Motorola announced the original Moto X in August 2013). Roughly four months have now passed since that story popped up, and there's been no concrete word from Motorola about a release date or even pricing.
Where can you buy a Google Play edition device?
Because Google Play edition devices were largely created to cut carriers out of the equation and get the latest version of "stock" Android into the hands of consumers quickly, their target audience is the US.
That's also why, as a rule, Google Play edition devices haven't launched outside of the US. Don't expect to see the HTC One, Galaxy S4, LG G Pad, or Z Ultra in the UK anytime soon, because Americans only have these wonderful privileges at the moment.
If you're in the US and want to own a Google Play edition device, check out Google's hub on the Google Play Store. It's where all four devices are exclusively listed.