What a ‘Pure Google’ Samsung Galaxy S4 could mean for you

With all the buzz around the next Nexus devices, leaked specs and gorgeous renders have had me (and every fan of AOSP) drooling for the next member of the Pure Google family. Who would think I/O would change that for me?

Deep down, I’m a “Samsung” man. I’ve owned the whole Galaxy S line, the Behold II before that, even my first flip phone was a Samsung. I have a Samsung Chromebook and a Samsung TV.


The idea of abandoning Samsung is a sad thought that occurs when I consider “jumping ship” for the supposed LG Nexus 5. But, as if to answer my silent prayers, Google and Samsung have announced the “Google S4” or “Nexus S4” or just AOSP Galaxy S4. We still don’t know what it’s going to be called officially, but I like “Google S4”.

Everyone has heard almost everything there is to say about the Google S4, but here are the things that really excite me.

If their adoption of the unadulterated Nexus 4 was any indication, I believe T-Mobile may decide to offer the device. Anyone who wants one of these handsets but doesn’t have the near $700 may be able to put the device on a payment plan with T-the carrier. And, since it’s unlocked, after it’s paid off, you can take it to your favorite carrier. Have a contract?


Have a child who’s ready for a phone? Get the Google S4 for you and throw the SIM into a dumb-phone for them. You can still make payments and justify the extra line.

From the looks of it, the Google edition will have the Snapdragon 600 processor just like the rest of the US Galaxy S4 variants. Ready for the really awesome part? If you’re familiar with Samsung, they have a habit of “leaking” a beautiful proprietary program for Windows called “ODIN Multi-downloader.” The very same program they would use on your device were you to send it in for service of a software/firmware related issue. This program allows you to flash stock (or unofficial) firmware to the device.

What this means to anyone with a US Galaxy S4, your development community will have instantaneous access to a rock solid AOSP build of the latest API available and with little to no tweaking depending upon your carrier, will make that available to you without even the hassle of rooting your device (if you’re not into that)

It would stand to reason, then, that even if T-Mobile doesn’t pick up the Google S4, presuming the hardware proves to be the same as the T-Mobile model, all you’d need to do is flash the Google S4 factory image over the your device. If that works flawlessly without having to modify the operating system image at all, then theoretically you should even receive the OTAs from Google with the latest version of Android the same day as the Google S4.

Who’s excited about what the Google S4 is going to bring to the development community? Anyone planning on buying one? Anyone else confused about Samsung’s cooperation with Google when they’re supposedly bringing their own OS to the table? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

  • rsanchez1

    Wow, what a fanboy…

    • Tony McAfee


  • Damien Callaly

    gedify my S4 yes please..

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  • alan smith

    Wiil we get the Google S4 in the UK?

    • Tony McAfee

      Alan, there’s no word yet, but It would stand to reason that if you are able to order the other Nexus devices from the Play Store in the UK, then you will be able to order this one.

      If not, you can always visit Swappa.com one release day and order one from a reseller!

  • MagicMiguel

    S4 hardware looks nice and all, but I’m sticking with the Nexus line. Pure Android is my top requirement for a phone and at nearly half the price, you can get an unlocked Nexus 4 which will get all the same updates (probably even before the S4) and performs nearly as well. For all we know, the next Nexus phone this November will probably surpass the S4 in hardware and could still be nearly half the price. Unless you’re a huge Samsung fan with a large pile of cash, this makes little sense. What would be nice, however, would be if Samsung gave current S4 owners using the crappy Samsung GUI the option to upgrade to pure Android.

    • Tony McAfee

      That was kind of the point of the article. Current Galaxy S4 owners will have that option (whether through Samsung, or independently through the development community)

      That is what is so exciting! People who jumped the gun and purchased the S4 before realizing how awful TouchWiz is (in comparison to AOSP) will now have the option to switch to AOSP without much of a problem.

      Or someone like myself who wants only the best of the best hardware that lasts the longest and is the easiest with which to work and modify safely and also want the AOSP updates (at the same time as the Nexus line) can now have that.

      If I’m never forced to own an LG device, that would be okay with me. I have no problem with people calling me a Samsung fanboy, although that’s not what I am. I’m a Google fanboy, and a Samsung loyalist.

      Also the article addresses the “stacks of cash” comment. The exciting thing about it is that you won’t have to buy the Play Store model as full price to experience the AOSP goodness on your S4.

      Thanks for reading!

      • MagicMiguel

        Thanks for the comments Tony! I fundamentally agree with what you are saying, however I just don’t believe many people will spring for a $650 S4 just because it is running stock. Especially being that by the end of June, the S4 will have been out for several months by then. I also think trying to crack the bootloader (because let’s face it, VZW and AT&T aren’t going to be in favor of unlocked bootloaders) on carrier specific versions of the S4 will be too complicated for the vast majority of customers. I think that’s the unfortunate reality.

        I, however, have been a huge supporter of AOSP and Nexus devices since the beginning. And in my experience, Samsung hardware has been pretty good (the Galaxy Nexus was probably the phone I enjoyed most). I would love to see OEMs differentiating themselves in terms of great hardware and design rather than building crappy GUIs and software into Android. So I, by all means, support the concept of an unlocked AOSP S4, I just don’t think it’s going to put up enough sales (especially at that price) to cause any major rifts in the Android world. It is also the reason why the Nexus line never really puts up the sales figures that the major OEM flagship phones do. But, as a huge Android supporter, I hope I am wrong about this!

        • Tony McAfee

          I know what you mean.

          I also think some of your points are the exact reason AOSP supporters need to take advantage of this while it’s here. I agree it’s hard to justify spending that amount when the Nexi have consistently been far cheaper. But for me, if this is the one and only chance to get premium hardware with perfect AOSP support, I’m going to jump on it, and would encourage anyone who can afford it to do the same, I would love if all OEMs would release and AOSP version of their flagships (or at least with the same specs as their flagships) so that AOSP supporters would have some options.

          Now, I don’t want people to take me calling the S4 a “premium device” the wrong way. Two things must converge for me to consider a device “premium”

          First; strong development, second; top of the line hardware that will stay relevant.

          A prime example of a premium device, my backup phone is a Samsung Vibrant. I installed the front facing camera myself and have it running 4.2.2 perfectly. Conversely you have a cheap Samsung from the same generation, Sidekick 4G, same specs, a little better because it has a front facing camera and 4G stock. But the development community can’t seem to get that thing running 2.3 let alone ICS or Jelly Bean.

  • jamesbay

    I am soooo getting one!!!

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  • Justin S.

    I’m probably going to get two one in white one in black then root my nexus 4 with the Ubuntu OS

  • My only question is will samsung be bringing ANY of their features to the build. And hopefully they will be making sure the camera works just as good as the tw roms.

    • Tony McAfee

      No, Samsung will have no say in the software at all. That would be entirely against the point of a Google edition. If you want the TouchWiz features, you’ll have to get the regular Galaxy S 4.