Google are continuing their allegiance with popular smartphone producer Samsung with the release of the Stock Android Galaxy S4. As well as providing the Stock Android operating system on the smartphone, Google will also distribute the device through its Google Play store.
What is Stock Android?
Stock Android is the stripped down version of the Android operating system running on a non-Google handset. Stock Android runs free of the usual restraints and fillerware normally imposed by individual manufacturers. In the case of the Galaxy S4, the handset with not contain any traces of interference from Samsung, instead it will run the pure form of Android, the same system that you find on Google’s Nexus device.
Because it is installed with Stock Android, the Galaxy S4 will keep all of its existing design features without the drawbacks of the sometimes unpopular TouchWiz interface, the native Samsung skin for the handset. The great digital camera and large, 5 inch screen remain on the S4, along with the powerful quad core processor, which makes for an extremely smooth experience when combined with the powerful yet streamlined Android operating system. Users will still be able to use the handset with the colourful Samsung Flip Covers.
The biggest and most noticeable physical change to the phone is the fact that the handset no longer carries the Samsung or Galaxy S4 logos, which are conspicuous by their absence on the battery cover of the handset. When they get down to using the phone, users may also notice the Stock Android S4 does not feature the ability to change screen mode, which can result in some pretty shocking hues on occasion.
The Stock Android S4 was released at the tail end of last month, and comes at a rather steep $649 USD. This price tag should be universal, no matter which territory you’re buying in. The phone is available from the Google Play store online, however, the company currently only ships to customers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, India, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States.
Despite running the Google developed Android system, the Samsung S4 is not part of the internet giant’s Nexus program. This means that the handset will not get software updates directly from Google. The knock on effect is that the S4 probably won’t receive updates as regularly as a Google handset, an issue that could leave users with a device running back dated versions of Android.
The release of the S4 through Google Play will also be a big test for Google as a distributor of smartphones. When the web based company released the Nexus 4 via the same online store, things did not go too smoothly. There were significant problems with orders, leaving some customers extremely dissatisfied with the service. The potential for further disruption could be increased by the fact that the S4 will be going on sale in the Play store alongside another hugely popular handset, the HTC One, also running Stock Android. Google will need to make sure that their systems are operating at full capacity because they are likely to be inundated with orders.
For those who need a phone that can do just about everything, then the powerful Stock Android version of the Galaxy S4 is certainly a good option. However, if you don’t think you’ll be able to make use of all the phone’s features, you would be wise to spend your money on a more modestly priced device. Should you buy one?