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Stock Android Samsung Galaxy S4 is almost like a Nexus experience, but not exactly

Stock Android Samsung Galaxy S4 is almost like a Nexus experience, but not exactly
We are not big fans of the vague word that is ‘fragmentation’ around here, especially when it is applied only to Android. Matter of fact is fragmentation is present in many forms on Apple’s iOS as well. However it is also true that the situation with uniformity of experience and updates on Android could be much much better.

Yesterday, Google made a huge step towards that in two ways. The first one is that it did not announce a new Android version. The second one was the most exciting news of the night for gadget lovers - the 'Nexus' edition of the Samsung Galaxy S4 was announced with pure stock Android and without Samsung’s TouchWiz skin.

But at the same time, this was also a step down in terms of uniformity. This was touted to be a “Nexus experience” in a non-Nexus device. However it is not exactly that. The Samsung Galaxy S4 is a great device but it differs from Nexus devices in one key area - it does not use on-screen buttons. Right now all current Nexus devices have on screen button - the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 are all without physical navigational button.

Introducing the ‘Nexus’ Galaxy S4, though, Google breaks that uniformity. The lack of on screen buttons is not a major segmentation in anyway - it mostly makes accessing Google Now harder and changes little besides that. But it is segmentation, a slightly different ‘Nexus’ experience.

Will we miss the quick access to Google Now? For us personally, the freed space from the missing on-screen buttons is welcome news - we love every pixel and don’t want it go to waste for on-screen buttons. For others it might be different. But now that Google sells the ‘Nexus’ Galaxy S4 on the Play store, it will finally have a way to tell which one users prefer.

'Nexus' Galaxy S4 has no on-screen buttons
Nexus 4 on-screen buttons allow unique functions like quick access to Google Now

'Nexus' Galaxy S4 has no on-screen buttons

Nexus 4 on-screen buttons allow unique functions like quick access to Google Now

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posted on 16 May 2013, 02:55 18

1. Trex95 (Posts: 544; Member since: 03 Mar 2013)


Sorry S4 Nexus 4 still better.

posted on 16 May 2013, 03:12 11

9. mydi.maus (unregistered)


Nexus s4 mo better 13 mp photosphere and mo free space...

posted on 16 May 2013, 03:16 3

10. NightFelix (Posts: 36; Member since: 29 Apr 2013)


Will the Photosphere be in S4(Google Edition)? anyone can confirm this? As I know that S4 do not have Photosphere(or S-Orb), correct me if I'm wrong.

posted on 16 May 2013, 03:44 4

22. Shubham412302 (Posts: 298; Member since: 09 Nov 2011)


if it has gyroscope then yes.

posted on 16 May 2013, 19:33

49. ph00ny (Posts: 602; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Um don't they both use the same 13mp sensor and stock android means same space usage? as for photosphere, stock android?

posted on 16 May 2013, 03:17 27

11. jove39 (Posts: 1285; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


N4 is better value for money...S4 rocks latest hardware.

posted on 16 May 2013, 03:35 12

21. noim1 (Posts: 297; Member since: 15 May 2012)


dont tell me that .....in my country N4 sells for $600.....So Nexus S4 is my ultimate choice .bang for the Buck ...Now i can have SD Card support & Get Fast Android Version update like Nexus devices ...Woooo Hooooo !!!!

posted on 16 May 2013, 15:21

45. HDShatter (Posts: 1021; Member since: 17 Jan 2013)


IF you live in the US you can buy a nexus 4 for with 16gb storage for $350. As far as we know the S4 nexus is $650.

posted on 16 May 2013, 14:00

44. atsamman (Posts: 74; Member since: 26 Sep 2012)


But I think that if google will sell the galaxy s4 as a nexus device it will definitely drop down in the price cause it will not have any of that pre installed software by samsung

Sooo...

posted on 16 May 2013, 22:40

51. WM6.5Sucks (Posts: 42; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)


......Soooo about 550?

posted on 17 May 2013, 10:19

53. atsamman (Posts: 74; Member since: 26 Sep 2012)


Idk am hoping less xd

posted on 16 May 2013, 05:01 17

27. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


You crazy?
Its not even comparable.
S4 over N4:
- a 0.5 inches more of the effective size of sharper, far superior screen.
- much better camera.
- longer battery endurance
- removable battery
- SD card slot
- better processor
- loads of sensors
- glove sensitive screen
- superior sound quality output(external source, not the speakers)..in fact is has the CLEAREST AUDIO OUTPUT EVER MEASURED IN A SMARTPHONE(check out GSArena review) and can give you a true audiophile experience if you use a high end headsets

posted on 16 May 2013, 05:40 7

29. giri555 (Posts: 95; Member since: 15 Mar 2012)


S4 is a Samsung phone, will stay away from it. Nexus 4 is better still, LG build quality is better.

posted on 16 May 2013, 08:34 2

36. cse.vicky (Posts: 106; Member since: 10 Dec 2010)


You forgot price !

posted on 16 May 2013, 13:11

42. appleDOESNT.com (Posts: 436; Member since: 19 Nov 2011)


Is this kinda like the rumored 'Nexus' certification program awhile ago? I think that would take Android to the next level for us hard core users.. Morw Nexus's, more choices :)

posted on 16 May 2013, 15:23 1

46. HDShatter (Posts: 1021; Member since: 17 Jan 2013)


Only the international S4 has the good audio output, the US has the same audio chip as the HTC One and boths audio outputs are pretty crappy compared to a Wolfson chip.

posted on 16 May 2013, 06:42 4

33. taikucing (unregistered)


go home, you're drunk

posted on 16 May 2013, 09:12

38. CX3NT3_713 (Posts: 1923; Member since: 18 Apr 2011)


Passssssst....

posted on 16 May 2013, 02:57 4

2. _Bone_ (Posts: 2129; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


The problem is, by the time it's out, the TouchWiz version will be sub-$600 so a Nexus coming more expensive than the regular will very hard to swallow. Pure Android is half of the Nexus charm, price point is the other. This would make sense around... well $500 at the highest.

posted on 16 May 2013, 02:58 9

3. xperiaDROID (limited) (Posts: 5494; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


Even though the 'Nexus' Galaxy S4 has no on-screen buttons, it's okay, what's the big deal, at least we still have a physical home button and two capacitive buttons, and this is not a full Nexus smartphone, it's just a (half-Nexus)Galaxy S4 with stock Android.

And we won't miss the quick access to Google Now, because there's a Google search widget on the home screen, just tap the Microphone on the right side and you can access to Google Now.

posted on 16 May 2013, 03:26 9

19. tech2 (Posts: 2080; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


Also, you can program the home button (via app) for double tap to Google Now

posted on 16 May 2013, 03:33 4

20. xperiaDROID (limited) (Posts: 5494; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


That's right!

posted on 16 May 2013, 02:59 19

4. SlimSoulja86 (Posts: 642; Member since: 03 Nov 2011)


This article is useless, like really? Come on now.

posted on 16 May 2013, 03:18 6

13. jove39 (Posts: 1285; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


I was about to write same!

posted on 16 May 2013, 03:00 6

5. FlushGordon (unregistered)


What about the usable free space?

posted on 16 May 2013, 03:19 7

15. NightFelix (Posts: 36; Member since: 29 Apr 2013)


I think would be same like the Nexus4, S4 16gb would be come with usable of 12-13gb of free space

posted on 16 May 2013, 03:04 2

6. belovedson (Posts: 832; Member since: 30 Nov 2010)


victor let me inform you a little about the gs2 series on. that button... yes that squarish one can be programmed.

in other words if a developer or if google wanted they can simply allow pressing and holding the button down for 2 seconds to go straight into google now.

this technique actually makes it easier to access the feature. i used it all the time when i had a gs3

posted on 16 May 2013, 05:03

28. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


THE S3 AND S4 CAN OPEN GOOGLE NOW VIA THE LONG PRESS OF THE LEFT CAPACITIVE BUTTON

posted on 16 May 2013, 03:06 3

7. mydi.maus (unregistered)


No touchwiz greatly appreciated and now stock android.weehoooo..

posted on 16 May 2013, 03:10 2

8. jromy (Posts: 113; Member since: 26 Feb 2013)


Scrambling for something to post as news? Kinda sad really.

posted on 16 May 2013, 03:18 2

12. dexter_jdr (Posts: 1144; Member since: 28 Jun 2012)


really really sad. even apple has no news till now.

posted on 16 May 2013, 04:46 1

25. roscuthiii (Posts: 1803; Member since: 18 Jul 2010)


Well, I wouldn't say no news... they did have that tidbit about hitting 50B app downloads earlier.

And then, well, I guess there's this too but PA has yet to post anything on it: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/05/apple-was-ringmaster-in-conspiracy-to-fix-e-book-prices-us-says/

posted on 16 May 2013, 03:19 1

14. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5599; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)


yeah, i wish it was a little more "optimized" for it's new stock Android touting status.

posted on 16 May 2013, 03:21 2

16. scriptwriter (Posts: 396; Member since: 13 Nov 2012)


I have a galaxy nexus and have been asking google to change the google now activation to something different as scrolling and gaming opens google now accidently more often than not.

posted on 16 May 2013, 03:22 5

17. Tsepz_GP (Posts: 819; Member since: 12 Apr 2012)


Devs and geeks alike have praised this, it's what they've always wanted, so I doubt the bit of inconvience of accessing GNow will stop them getting their dream Nexus :D and as said above, the physical key on the GS4 can be reprogrammed, they may just make it a double tap to go to Google Now as there is no S Voice to take up that function in the GS4 GE.
A Nexus with HD1080p Display, MicroSD expansion, great Exmor R/RS 13MP Camera, powerful hardware and many sensors Google and the devs can go wild with, we have the best smartphone here.

What would be nice is if PA could find out for us if the GS4 GE is a Snapdragon 600 or Exynos 5 Octa phone with modified antenna.

posted on 16 May 2013, 15:25

47. HDShatter (Posts: 1021; Member since: 17 Jan 2013)


I was wondering that too, if they were smart they would use a snapdragon 800 and these would sellout. Snapdragon used a universal socket for 600/800 so it technically could work.

posted on 16 May 2013, 03:23 1

18. Tux_Alan (Posts: 74; Member since: 30 Jan 2013)


Wonder how the thing'll be priced... Article says it will be sold on the play store, will it be subsidized by Google as nexus devices are? That'd seem to make little sense for Samsung were it to be the case! Sorry if I've completely missed out on the whole thing, you guys seem to say it wqs all widely known, guess we cannot catch every bit more of info... 

posted on 16 May 2013, 10:41

40. NexusX (Posts: 123; Member since: 16 May 2013)


It costs about $200 to manufacture the GS4, $400 wholesale to Google, and retails for $650 with shipping and tax. Google is probably pissed off because Samsung is making all the money from selling phones running their free OS and wants a cut of the profit. So samsung is letting them sell their GS4 with stock os at $650 for retailer profit

posted on 16 May 2013, 03:52 3

23. HighTechToid (Posts: 5; Member since: 15 Mar 2013)


You can access Google Now on a Galaxy S3 and S4 (presumably for the S4 since I haven't tested it) by just holding the menu button. This has been a hidden feature for quite some time.

So, I imagine that will be the case as well with the S4 Google Edition. Just because you can't swipe doesn't mean it's not there. :)

posted on 16 May 2013, 04:24

24. madpiyal (Posts: 108; Member since: 11 Feb 2013)


Mr Victor you i think missed the sd card slot option which is also not found in Nexus devices. I think the only reason Google is selling Nexus S4 just to get the user feedback which they need to build a S4 killer Motorola based phone.

posted on 16 May 2013, 04:57

26. Bluesky02 (Posts: 1439; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)


Yes Victor I love every pixel and screen space free up

posted on 16 May 2013, 06:01

30. fanboy1974 (Posts: 1209; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)


On screen buttons? I can enable those same on screen buttons on my Note 2 or use a custom Rom. It is not hard enabling them on a rooted 4.0 and above android device.

posted on 16 May 2013, 06:02

31. jroc74 (Posts: 4836; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


I was never a fan of on screen buttons. They take up space. They do disappear when looking at movies and pics tho.

posted on 16 May 2013, 06:11 1

32. feres13 (Posts: 306; Member since: 23 Dec 2011)


64GB Dev HTC One or 16GB Google Edition Galaxy S4, tough choice for a current Nexus 4 user who's going to keep his N4. My biggest problems with the S4 was Touchwiz and the glossy cheap finish of the phone and it's design. This fixes one of the major issues but from my experience 16GB of internal storage is not enough even with an SD card (but it's nice to have an SD card). Both are equally fast but the One's camera is better for lowlight & videos while the S4 is better in daylight. The S4 has a removable and bigger battery , while the One doesn't, but the One has these awesome FF stereo speakers. I prefer LCDs over Amoled displays. For once i don't mind Sense (It looks clean and minimalistic) but i wonder if HTC is going to update their phone (and get rid of the menu bar), thankfully no Android 4.3 announcement means that the One isn't that outdated software wise, but stock android on the S4 is BIG. I still prefer the One's design by alot. Both are 649$ and have access to AT&T LTE.
If Google announced the One stock edition, i'd be the first in line...

posted on 16 May 2013, 06:57

34. scriptwriter (Posts: 396; Member since: 13 Nov 2012)


Thing is though, the S4 running Android Stock will only be availible in the USA on the carriers Tmobile and AT&T.
There was no mention of it being availible in the UK
Also the stock android S4 is gonna priced at $649 which converts to about £425 but by the time the UK government has put tax on that we're gonna be looking to pay about £500 for one (if we ever get it in the UK)

posted on 16 May 2013, 08:32

35. tokuzumi (Posts: 277; Member since: 27 Aug 2009)


Little too expensive for my tastes, and a little more that I would expect for a Nexus device. Hopefully it will be like the Galaxy Nexus, which started out at $5XX, and ended up at $350. I wouldn't expect to see the GS4 priced that low, but it would be nice to go into the $450 range at a later date.

posted on 16 May 2013, 08:55 1

37. NexusX (Posts: 123; Member since: 16 May 2013)


$650 + tax + crazy google play shipping = $700+. I can buy a nexus 4 now and still have money left over to buy a Nexus 5 when it comes out in november.

posted on 16 May 2013, 09:25

39. MobileCaseReview (Posts: 241; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


The lockscreen should be the same on GS4 if running stock android, hence quick access to Google Now. So the picture captioning the difference between the S4 and N4 is inaccurate. Google now on this should be accessible by holding down the menu button - my best guess since it's that way on Gnote 2 with all the asop roms and stock tw. It's still easy to access just different.

posted on 16 May 2013, 11:42

41. appleDOESNT.com (Posts: 436; Member since: 19 Nov 2011)


I see Google stealing pie controls as a option to always on on-screen buttons eventually (offer either, let the user decide). They are simply awesome on my Galaxy Nexus ZenonHD. Free up the screen space, highly customizable buttons, easy to access! Whats not to love about pie!

posted on 16 May 2013, 13:53

43. onishi100 (Posts: 3; Member since: 04 May 2013)


well where is x phone after all

posted on 16 May 2013, 19:15

48. Socahan (Posts: 9; Member since: 17 Oct 2012)


Are you for real? Google breaking their uniformity by not having on screen buttons? How about breaking their uniformity with the first "Nexus" device having a removable battery and support for external sd card?

posted on 16 May 2013, 20:30

50. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 2998; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)


You fanboys can argue which device is better until the end of time but nobody can argue that both devices are amazing. It's just that 16GB needs to be no longer the "standard" for internal memory. Google themselves made it so you can't(well by default) store apps/games into the micro sd card.

While it is very nice to have tons of music and photos, let's be real here. Apps are now increasing in size every day and we are getting like 2 to 4GB of file sizes per game and that internal memory is going to be GONE in no time at all.

We should be able to enjoy as many games and apps as we want since there's so many of them when we purchased the high end "flag ship" device of a carrier.

So 32GB-64GB needs to be the new standard for the high end smartphones of 2013 and beyond.

posted on 17 May 2013, 01:27

52. Taters (Posts: 3047; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)


The Nexus 4 looks too short and fat with the on screen buttons. The LG Optimus G looked way nicer.

Besides, I like capacitive buttons as long as they work unlike HTC.

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