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Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition Unboxing and Overview

samsung galaxy s4 google play edition

Over the weekend, we took our first look at the HTC One Google Play Edition, promising that we’d do something similar with the Samsung Galaxy S4 GPE once we had it. Well, the time has come, and the device is in house. As is typical when we receive most devices, we thought we’d do a quick unboxing and then get right down to the comparisons between the Google Play Edition and the regular TouchWiz’d Galaxy S4. 

In the video below, you’ll see that the phone really is nothing more than a normal Galaxy S4 that’s running stock Android 4.2.2. The hardware specs are all identical, but all of the Samsung enhancements are gone, including the fancy Airview apps, camera modes, and gestures. It almost feels like you are being a bit cheated after forking out $650. But then again, isn’t this what we’ve been asking for – a flagship device that runs stock Android and receives timely updates?

We’ll spend more time with the device over the coming weeks and will hopefully have some answers to that question. In the mean time, enjoy.

Unboxing and Overview



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  • kensum1

    Excuse my ignorance, do I choose ‘rooted’ or non-rooted apps to download and install to the s4 Google play edition?

  • kensum1

    Do I treat the s4 Google play edition as if it were rooted ?
    That is, do I install play store apps for ‘rooted’ devices, or what?

  • JJ

    does this work on verizon?

  • Doujouyaburi

    For me TouchWiz is a no go. I cant connect more then 5 sources in there stock contact application, that kills me to no end. Think about it, all you social app email’s that have syncing api built-in and you can only chose 4 including the first one you linked it with.

  • oldscoolgamer

    So what is the model number listed on the sticker underneath the battery? I had read somewhere that this model is a SGH-M919 (which is the T-Mobile version). Can you confirm the model number for us Kellex?

  • Mike Hilal

    How much faster/snappier is the device with AOSP vs TW?

  • DanSan

    so the real question here is when we getting that unlocked bootloader ported to the normal GS4…

    i know they pulled the recovery from the GE One and also the bootloader, lets do the same for the GS4! i want fully unlocked bootloader, not this bypass stuff

  • mujahid

    @Loise, you create $27h…good for you! I compose to $85h engaging from home. My story is that I quit engaging at shoprite to figure on-line and with to a small degree effort I simply herald around $45h to $85h…heres an honest example of what i am doing, http://www.Pro67.com

  • Wait, did Google adjust/fix the lock screen clock widget while I wasn’t looking? Hours are same font weight as minutes in the video, and I’ve always seen BOLD:normal post-4.2. Could it be that they finally listened?

  • @iamAButta

    Can’t get 1080p wallpaper to shoe up properly on the google edition, anyone else having that problem? Shows up pixilated.. : (

  • Juvenall

    The biggest question for me is if this still works with the Fitbit Flex (a device that requires Bluetooth 4.0 LE). As I understand it, the S3/S4 are the only devices that support it because the stack was built into TouchWiz. Did Samsung provide that for the Google Play Edition?

  • Taylor Abrahamson

    So google and samsung said the IR emitter for the TV control wont work with the Google edition. But The rumor I’m hearing is that samsung did sneak in their IR service. Could you try to install the IR remote app from the market and see if it works to clear this up!?

  • JonathonFlores

    Is TW that bad?

    • Drome


      • JonathonFlores

        Odd as it is, I don’t know anyone with a gs3, gs4 or note, nor have I been in a Verizon store to check one out as I haven’t had an upgrade.

    • LiterofCola


    • Eric

      Yes. Even with all the high end specs it still lags.

    • Tim242


    • mikeszekely

      Let’s put it this way, I bought a Galaxy S4 and took it back less than 24 hours later. TouchWiz is appallingly bad. If find it kind of ironic that the most popular Android phones have the absolute worst representation of Android.

      I wound up with the HTC One. Sense isn’t as good as stock, but it’s miles better than TouchWiz.

      • KleenDroid

        I simply rooted mine on day 3 and fixed it with a debloated ROM.

        The Roms are getting better everyday.

        I am very happy with my S4.

        The stock S4 is a bit disappointing because of lag but it is easily resolved.

        I have resolved something with every phone I’ve ever owned. It is never very difficult.

        The S4 is wonderful as I’m sure the HTC One is also.

      • Dwoah

        I own the Galaxy S4 and while TouchWiz is extremely annoying and bloated I simply use other launchers, yeah I still have the bloatware of useless suites of apps from Samsung and Verizon I don’t think thats a whole reason to return the phone when there is launchers like nova launcher or Action Launcher. I don’t know, just my opinion.

      • DanSan

        rooted mine, got rid of TW launcher, threw nova on and i have no issues. dont mind the rest of the TW UI

    • PV

      Yes. For me it is. You use their apps. Everything goes through their filters, Their email app exchanges information with Samsung, from what I could tell… Despite the bit of shine on the home screen, I quickly rooted and shifted to a lightweight rom that kept most of the Samsung core so things like IR and airview, hover, etc, still worked. But more and more I find myself replacing samsung’s apps with google versions. The google keyboard for example, and the mail app which the rom I chose provided as a replacement. I haven’t used any of the really special features of the phone, but then again, I’ve only had it for a week.

      In any case, I chose the S4 because of the core features, screen and processing power. My hate for the TW lead me to root asap. But many people DO like it and many more people simply replace the launcher without rooting anything, although there is a _lot_ of bloat. Besides, once you get past touchwiz (if it bugs you), you see the device for what it is – a really awesome piece of hardware with a beautiful screen and some horsepower under the hood. I like it.

  • Pedro

    Watching the video, it looked like one of those sensors on the top was flashing.
    Does it give you anything in stock?

    • Tris

      Thats a normal IR sensor. Take your phone, turn on the camera, and aim a TV remote to the camera and press buttons, youll see the same thing.

  • Jason Downing

    Side note… having to double tap that physical button would be annoying

    • dns2k

      A friend recently got a VZW super early upgrade after only owning his s3 for 6-8 mo. and picked up the s4. he gave me his s3 and as soon as i could i rooted and installed PA and disabled the capacitive keys. i tried to completely disable the home button but didnt find the right method, but since i use PIE from PA with the capacitive’s off i hardly notice it anymore since to activate pie you start on either side of the button. but I agree with you I hate the button and how to enter task switcher via home. even with nova they were a hinderance.

      • Jason Downing

        As cool as I think PIE is, I don’t do so well with it. I like having the software keys there, and the ability to customize those.

  • Jason Downing

    DAMNIT VERIZON… I know the topic has been beat on, but I’m ready for a new phone and being able to buy the One or S4 with stock google would be nice…. And yes, I do realize that I could buy the Verizon version and root, but still

  • master94

    How much free space does this model have? Is it only 9Gb like the normal version?

    • BSweetness

      Other sites are reporting around 12GB of free space (I’ve seen different reports ranging from 11.3GB to 13.4GB).

    • KleenDroid

      Never an issue with my 64 gig SD card. But dang the Roms and backups on a Touchwiz ROM are huge. 4 or 5 times the size of each on my Gnex. The SD card is a must.

  • shecalledmejay

    Stock 4.2.2. just looks wrong without on-screen buttons lol

    • Not going to lie, it doesn’t feel fully stock without them heh. That damn physical home button…

      • Teng Taing

        could always install aokp rom and have the on screen buttons show up

        • chuck

          that defeats the purpose of this handset though.

          thats why i never quite understood their appeal.

          • Christopher Moore

            On some 4.2.2 Rom’s for my note 2 I can actually assign a long press to the home button to activate/deactivate the on screen buttons. Or select the “pie” option from the pull down. Android is so customizable.

    • TheCheapGamer

      It looks very correct having 100% of my screen.
      I still don’t see the appeal to on screen buttons.

      • Jon D

        i agree 100% i dont see why every1 hates the home button!?!? cant tell u how many times on my gnex id hit home while texting and get so annoyed! maybe because i have large hands i dono…..

        • Personally, the home button is too iPhonish (and after all the lawsuits i can’t believe they kept it.) also, the on screen buttons disappear when you need the extra screen space (youtube, movies, games.) not to mention ROMs have fullscreen options if real estate is the big concern. Then put in the LMT launcher or pie controls from Paranoid (now CM). WIN WIN!

      • shecalledmejay

        You still get 100% of your screen the buttons disappear when you watching a video or doing something that takes the whole screen. The beauty of on screen buttons is you can customize them as more buttons, change the look, and even change what they do. Android is all about customization and on-screen buttons help with that.

    • Ketan B. Parmar

      I like home button, You jelky ?

    • subtabbo

      @Loise, you make $27h…good for you! I make up to $85h working from home. My story is that I quit working at shoprite to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $45h to $85h…heres a good example of what i’m doing, http://www.Pro67.com