The 2013 Samsung Galaxy S4 gave the world the first Google Play Edition device and the one that might be given the credit for helping HTC's decision to release their 2013 flagship device, the HTC One (M7), as a Google Play Edition. It's been showing as out of stock for some time now on the Google Play Devices webpage and today the status has been updated to show that it is no longer available. This is perhaps understandable given that the handset is approaching two years old, leaving just four devices available in the Google Play Devices: the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and HTC One (M8). The S4 is certainly capable of running the current version of Android. It's based around a 5.0-inch, Samsung Super AMOLED screen of 1080p resolution. The handset uses a 1.9 GHz quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor backed up by 2 GB of RAM and with 16 GB of internal storage, plus a MicroSD card slot. The S4 uses a 13 MP rear camera and a 2 MP front facing camera. It's kept alive by a 2,600 mAh replaceable, rechargeable battery; these specifications are no longer cutting edge but with the S4 running stock Android, it's still as smooth and fluid as Android Lollipop is (at least for the first forty hours, anyway).
Google Play Edition devices are an interesting way to access Android. They're almost a Nexus device, but not quite. Their advantage is that you can take software that's very close to stock (Google Nexus) Android but with other features: the S4 Google Play Edition came with a better camera, screen, battery and of course a MicroSD card slot compared with the LG Nexus 4. Unfortunately, the Google Play Edition Galaxy S4 was also considerably more expensive than the Nexus 4… And now the S4 Google Play Edition joins the retired Google Play Edition versions of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, HTC One M7 and Motorola Moto G, what do we have to look forward to from the manufacturers? Are the big names going to release Google Play Editions of their 2015 devices? Or were the sales too disappointing?
Some manufacturers have already aligned their handset software with stock Android, such as Motorola and Sharp, such that there's arguably no point in releasing a Google Play Edition version. Was there so much difference between the original Moto G and the Google Play Edition? For other manufacturers, such as HTC, the Google Play Edition missed out on many of the "special sauce" features that made gave the original device a certain charm. Of course, for those of us who insist on nothing but stock answer, we already have our answer here! Over to our readers; will you miss the Google Play Edition version of the Galaxy S4? Did it add more to the Google universe than it detracted? Let us know in the comments below.