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Jun
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In a turn of events that no one could have predicted, Google introduced, in partnership with HTC and Samsung, two versions of highly anticipated and desirable phones that are stripped of their manufacturer skins entirely and are devoted purely to stock Android. Equally unpredictably, this created a chasm in the Android community as the Nexus Warriors took up arms against the mudblood HTC One and Galaxy S4.

There were no survivors.

Here's the trouble, though: there's absolutely nothing wrong with the Google Play Editions of these phones. Nothing in particular about these devices themselves makes them better or worse than any other handsets aside from personal preferences. And, more importantly, they are exactly what they should be for regular consumers.

ROMs, Bootloaders, And Unlocked Phones Don't Matter To Most People

2013-06-27_19h06_23

Average person: "Yeah. Uh huh. Mmhmm. I know some of these words."

The refrain heard from many of the Android faithful is that it's silly to buy a new phone just to get stock Android when a ROM would be easier. This argument appears to varying degrees. Some say that you should just root your phone and put CyanogenMod on it (which isn't strictly speaking, pure stock Android as it has tweaks too), while others more moderately say that a better solution would be an unlocking tool and downloadable ROMs provided as options.

This is completely nutty.

Sure, it would be great for enthusiasts. And at the moment the people who care most about stock Android are probably enthusiasts. However, disregarding for the time being that claiming people who like stock Android are exclusively enthusiasts is a misnomer (we'll get to that), the bigger point is that most people on Earth do not want to screw with their phone just to get it to be the way they prefer.

There are nearly a billion Android devices that have been activated worldwide. As of April of this year, there were 1.5 million activated every day. For comparison, the cumulative total of CyanogenMod installs (both official and unofficial) is around 5.7 million. Typical daily activation users aren't counted, but as of this writing, the number of installs over the last 24 hours was 15,866. In other words, nearly 99% of people who buy Android phones don't bother with CyanogenMod. The numbers for other ROMs might pad that out a bit, but the takeaway is clear: people who want to install ROMs on their phone are a minority. There's nothing wrong with that, of course! ROMs are great. There are a lot of cool features that ROM developers build and that's fantastic. However, most people just want to buy their phone and use it.

Now, if those things matter to you, then congratulations. You are part of an elite group of Android enthusiasts that statistically probably knows more than the average Joe about Android. This is probably why your friends ask you which phone they should get and come to you when their Samsung did that weird thing again. It is a terrible privilege and I'm right there with you. Just understand that when we talk about solutions for phones that involve getting one version of Android on a device, anything that involves being able to download something, tools to switch ROMs, or any idea other than "the phone comes with X software on it," you have already alienated ~99% of the Android market. That's just the reality of it.

Stock Android Isn't God, But It Also Hasn't Been Given A Chance

n10stock

I know it's crazy, but some people actually might not even recognize this as Android.

At this point in the Android community, there are a couple schools of thought. The first is that stock Android, as designed by the divine Duarte and riding on the wings of Nexus Nephilim is the alpha and omega of software design now and forever, until the end of time. The other is that stock Android is overrated and actually I kind of like Sense/TouchWiz/whatever, and I'd probably miss some small feature that I've been living without for literally my whole life if I had to switch. But there's one other group that gets overlooked, and they're a big one:

"What's stock Android?"

I know it's crazy, but hear me out. Remember that ~99% of people who don't bother swapping ROMs on their phones? Chances are a lot of them don't even know or care what stock Android is. In fact, think about this: the G1 came out in the fall of 2008. Most standard contracts in the U.S. last two years. So even if someone got the G1 the instant it came out, if they only upgraded their phone every two years, they would only have just gotten their third smartphone last year.

Except, most people did not get the G1. Most people waited. According to comScore, Android didn't overtake iOS for domestic install base until November 2010, a full two years after the G1's arrival. At that point, it acquired 26% of the paltry 61.5 million smartphone users, or about 16 million users. Compare that to the 52% of a 138.5 million smartphone user market we have today (or about 72 million Android users), and even in 2010, there were not that many people who had much experience with Android. Let's say they did, though. Let's say everyone in the country got their first Android device in November 2010. Assuming a two year contract term and everyone chooses to update at the end of it, most people only just got their second Android phone a few months ago. Second. Two. That's not even enough to try Sense, TouchWiz, and stock Android, much less know which one they like better.

Plus, during the time in between, they're probably not checking out everyone else's phones in great depth. I mean, surely they talk about it. They've got "an HTC" and their friend just got a Galaxy and they're curious, so they'll play with it and be all "that's cool. I think I like mine better/worse/I like waffles" and move on. However, it's reasonable to assume that most people don't have an opinion on stock Android because unless they bought a Nexus device or one of the very, very few devices that came with stock Android already, most people probably haven't used it as their daily driver.

That's not to say stock Android is more obscure than the uncomfortable, grating sounds and pubescent squawking that your hipster friend insists is "an album from this great band you've probably never heard of." Just that if you go to a Verizon or AT&T store, chances are you won't see a stock Android phone. You rarely have over the last five years. And worst of all, that still hasn't changed. Which leads me to...

These Phones Probably Won't Sell Well Regardless Of Their Quality

palmpre

Pictured above: the ghost of Nexus business models past.

We ignore it because we spend so much time reading about and comparing smartphones that retail outlets seem like the very last thing on our mind. However, here are the facts: most people who buy smartphones in the U.S. do so because they go to a store and look at what's available. Or because they see a ton of ads for a particular phone. We've talked a lot here about why advertising matters so much to a phone's success and compared to even HTC, Google has done hardly any advertising for the Nexus line (until very recently which, coincidentally, is coupled with a spike in Nexus sales, led by the Nexus 7).

Step back and think about this for just a second. One of two things has to be true to justify the absolutely abysmal sales numbers of past Nexus devices like the Galaxy Nexus: either the devices themselves are horrible—and I mean horrible—for regular consumers, or the barriers to entry are too high. Now, we can't rule out that maybe the Nexus line of phones is worse than Windows Phone and Blackberry and that no one likes them unless their neckbeard has its own neckbeard. However, the much more likely scenario is that very few people want to buy a phone off contract.

Note, I didn't even say "for $600+ off contract." I just mean "off contract at all." The Nexus 4 sold a lot better than previous Nexus phones, but if the scuttlebutt both in and out of the tech sphere is any indication, most average people did not frantically refresh a web site to buy their phone. Most of them probably bought phones the way they always have: by waiting until their contract was up and going into their carrier's store, where they would find exactly zero Nexus 4 units (unless they're on T-Mobile).

Until this changes, these devices will continue to underperform commercially. Stock Android devices are great products that consistently fail to do the one most important thing a product needs to do: ship. They don't get in to customers hands. That's a problem. It has nothing to do with failing to understand what people want in a phone, missing the boat, or a misguided solution to the problem of fragmentation. It has everything to do with half-assing the job of putting phones into the hands of consumers.

In fact, if it weren't for the rest of the Android ecosystem (and the fact that Google doesn't have to make money on Android to stay afloat), the Nexus line would've been dead a long time ago. How do I know? Because that's exactly what happened to Palm. WebOS was a great-looking product that users loved when they got their hands on it. But it was closed down, only Palm made the hardware, and it was only available on a few carriers. Updates weren't even part of the issue. It was just pure lack of availability that killed the platform.

Oh, and side note while we're on the subject of updates: no one knows anything. Period. We have never been in a situation where we're waiting on updates for a Google Play Edition device, we don't even know how important Android updates will be now that Google is apparently focusing on Play Services as the backbone of many new features instead of an OS update, and Google has specifically stated that updates will be received "shortly after a new version is released." Just because HTC and Samsung will handle drivers or whatever doesn't magically make these things second-class citizens. No one knows how this will work yet, and anyone pretending to know for sure that this is better or worse is guessing at best and lying at worst. In other words, stop making crap up and then whining about it.

All that being said, if the stock version of the HTC One or the Galaxy S4 work for you and you're willing to spend the money, go for it. They're good phones. In fact, they're probably among the best Android phones you can get right now. It really would be difficult to be completely unsatisfied with either of them. And if you do buy one and find your life is miserable, it might be a sign that you need to look elsewhere for happiness than your smartphone.

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • hoobdeebla

    Picture 2: digital notification boobies.

  • rick

    I am a geek who spends 2/3 of his day checking tech related articles, news, and videos.

    I just want a vanilla android experience on a high end phone. I cannot and will not risk rooting my phone.

    I wish that the nexus experience was very polished (hardware wised ) to stand against the one, and iphone lines.

    Nexus 4 is a great device in software but very poor in hardware. Its screen and camera are not good enough for it to be my daily driver.

    I hope google will start realizing this and working on it. I would pay 550, 600, or even 650 to get the best hardware with vanilla android that everyone can call the best of all android phones. This in my opinion with good advertisement will drive customers to buy the nexus line of pure android instead of other skinned phones which are great but not what google want about its OS.

    • PhineasJW

      So poor of a screen that you can't use it? Because it's a little washed-out?? What are you doing with it?

      So, why not buy the S4 or HTC One with stock Android then? That program was made for you.

    • joser116

      If you will not risk rooting your phone then you are not a geek.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

        I write for Android Police and Lifehacker. I own no fewer than four Android devices that are within arms reach of me. I have a custom built PC that I've been upgrading with my own two hands since I was a child. I can quote Joss Whedon films and TV shows verbatim. I have superhero posters on my wall. I own Android figurines. I can solve Rubik's cubes. I was raised on DOS and have been using command lines for longer than most of the readers of this site have been alive.

        I will not risk rooting my phone. I'm a fucking geek. Deal with it.

        • SetiroN

          Oh the horrible risks of gaining controlled superuser access in the day of unbrickable phones.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

            The horrible risk of wasting time on something I don't need or want.

            I'm sure the world of rooting your phone is full of posies and rainbows and orgasms on demand. But I don't care. And the elitist, arrogant, idiotic attitude that if you don't root, then you're a second class citizen can die in a fire.

            Also, also: I've been told since the days of the G1 that every phone on earth is "unbrickable." Fact is, if you void your warranty, you're stepping outside the safe zone. Maybe it's fine, maybe 99% of the time nothing bad happens, but outside of a desire to do heavy tweaking and play around with experimental software (neither of which is appealing to me), rooting provides no undeniable benefits that everyone has to have. It may have been true at one point, but now I, as a power user, can get by just fucking fine.

          • SetiroN

            You used the work 'risk', not me.
            If you just said 'I can't be arsed with all that' I wouldn't have said a thing.

            There's no real risks involved, that's all I'm saying. Phones really are unbrickable nowadays.
            The elitist attitude, obnoxious as it is, comes from the fact that such an operation as flashing a rom is so trivial compared to the innumerable gains an AOSP-based rom and root access give you that it's silly.
            2GB ram devices running 4.1 and 4.2 can be fine by themselves, but before that stock roms were fundamentally flawed and ran as utter crap compared to CM and equivalents; easily $300 worth of hardware with a flash.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

            Actually, joser used the word 'risk' and I was replying to him, using his words. Symmetrical response. It's a style thing. Don't take it so literal.

            I have no problem with people who root and I'll never tell someone it's riskier than it is (however, I can't tell you how many times I've been told "there's no real risk involved" and then heard people lose data or end up with serious problems for their devices. A better way to phrase it would be "If you take your time and read, there's little you can't undo." "No risk" is misleading and gets people in trouble. Coupled with an arrogant attitude about how rooting is universally better (not necessarily true) and you don't really win anyone over.

            I have not flashed a ROM on my daily driver device in months and there are literally no features I miss with the very, very occasional exception of wireless tethering. The "obvious, innumerable" benefits are neither. Moreover, you don't get to decide for someone else what is best for their phone. *That's* what's so arrogant. That's what's so elitist. Offering a helpful option is one thing. Telling someone what they need to do to their phone—especially as part of a stupid, immature attempt to ostracize someone from a group that should be so welcoming as geekdom—is deplorable and people who indulge in it misrepresent the *actual* amazing people who make the custom Android community so awesome while making themselves look like idiots and children.

            Let people have their phones and do what they want with them without being ridiculed or shamed. Or is that idea incompatible with the philosophies of openness and choice?

          • EH101

            Now, THIS, is how you respond with tact and respect.

          • Claudia Romero

            Thing is, joser116 wasn't ridiculing or shaming anyone. You just took his comment up the ass.

          • joser116

            Eric, can you explicitly answer this question? What do you mean by "The horrible risk of wasting time on something I don't need or want."? What is the "something"?

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

            A rooted phone.

          • SetiroN

            I disagree. Some things are inherently and objectively better. They might not carry the same weight amongst different people, but that doesn't take away the fact that they're better.
            Never have I tried to force those better things upon people, but the opposite sometimes happens, with some people claiming a lack of improvement -if not a worsening- over unmodified devices, implying their efforts (hence knowledge, ideas, time invested educating themselves) are pointless or detrimental, which triggers and automatic opposite reaction.

            Thing is, if I've educated myself for months about something and somebody uninformed comes at me claiming not that he can't be bothered doing the modifications, but that what I think is wrong or pointless, the chain of thought is not dissimilar than that of evolutionists confronting creationists: it's hard to give credit to people who take something for granted.

            As I stated above, nowadays things are different: hardware and underlying software improvements have very much thinned the line, but I still remember the days when the original sgs would become a lag fest unless you changed its file system, or the stock sgs3 being sluggish next to a proper sgs2 (a horribly supported device nonetheless), just to remain on the samsung side of things.

            You don't want to root you phone? Once again, fine: I'm not judging you. But it's just not true that tethering is the only thing missing. YOU might not feel like needing anything, but:

            blocking ads
            automating tasks (anything from automatically activating the speaker when you take the phone away, to entering different modes according to your location, to improving battery life thanks to connectivity tuning)
            improving gps performance
            theming
            enabling/disabling the navigation bar and status bar on the fly
            having granular control over app permissions
            undervolting (with the result of better battery life and much less cpu throttling)
            calibrating screen colors
            enabling OTG
            enjoying better general performance
            maintaining it over time thanks to TRIM and greenify
            ...and tethering
            (not to mention having fun tinkering-geeks and power users are still the subject)

            are not marginal things and objectively do make any device better. I'm not forcing anything on anyone, once again of course it is your choice to take advantage of all that or not and I hope you understand I'm not trying to be an elitist, but my phone is objectively better that a stock one. And it's a nexus.

          • Someone_asdf

            blocking ads: You get ad blocking over wifi with ABP. You could also set up a VPN to your home network that filters ads.

            automating tasks: Tasker/Setting Profiles/NFC Actionsetc. cover 80-90% of the functionality most people want to automate.

            improving gps performance: Not sure how.

            theming: You can get away with screen overlays and launchers. Covers a lot of theming options..

            enabling/disabling the navigation bar and status bar on the fly: You can hide/show notification with an app.

            calibrating screen colors: some newer devices (SGS4 has a calibration I think. Also, you can get a screen overlay app if colours are off for you.

            maintaining it over time thanks to TRIM and greenify: shouldn't TRIM be automatically done? Not sure what greenify is.

            ...and tethering: you don't need to root for this.

            (not to mention having fun tinkering-geeks and power users are still the subject)

            So a good 70-80% of what you say can be done without root.

          • SetiroN

            I'm not even going to go through it all
            Going trough hoops for a half baked result, how nice is that.

          • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack

            @ocentertainment:disqus dude you are not helping , you are not an average low life jerk internet user (or troll) , you are a respectable writer from very respectable Blogs, I enjoy reading your articles in life hacker and Android Police but the way you are talking is not expected from a man of your position. why you are behaving like an uneducated, uncultured loser teenage troll. you are not helping , with this behavior your fans (i'm one of them) will loose love & respect about you.

          • ThEGr33k

            I think you have the wrong end of the stick completely here Eric. If you don't need to root then don't. If you want the extra's that rooting bring but dare not then you perhaps aren't a full blown geek. I am a geek and I don't root because I don't need to, not because I am scared to. It sounds like you are in the same situation as me.

            Don't take this wrong Eric but I would seriously take a step back and get out a bit. You are taking this shit way WAY too serious, I been there and recognise it.

          • PhilNelwyn

            The risk doesn't necessarily reside in the rooting process itself.
            What if, one morning, your rooted phone refuse to boot because of a hardware issue?
            The warranty's void.
            Congrats, you've got yourself a $500 paperweight.

          • SetiroN

            Hardware failures are covered regardless of software.

          • PhilNelwyn

            That's not a universal truth.

            "Normal use" is always mentioned in warranty terms, and rooting is well known for being part of the modifications that may void the warranty.

            My Nexus 4's warranty card, for instance, says:

            «The benefit of the guarantee is canceled in the following cases:
            [...]
            -if the device is not installed and used in accordance with the installation and user manual [...].
            »

            Here's an interesting story about what can happen when you send a rooted phone for repair:

            http://forums.androidcentral.com/samsung-galaxy-s3/257334-s3-died-samsung-says-warranty-voided-due-root-8-days-decide-answer.html

          • Di Lu

            The counter to "root voids warranty" argument is that phone warranty(1 year) is shorter than contracts(2 year). Plus most phones do not get timely updates in year 2 so root makes a lot of sense for people stuck with a year 2 phone.

        • EH101

          I don't know why AP keeps you around. Every post/comment you make sounds like you're just some bigot with a "better than thou" attitude. You even respond with profanity with absolutely no reason for doing so. You show no credibility, as well as no respect to the readers who keep this site going.

          In short: AP would be better off without you.

          • joser116

            I agree, there was no need for him to be so sensationalist.

          • joser116

            That commment was a little too harsh. Not every post from him is like that, but a lot are. It is true that he does respond with profanity when there is no reason not too. And sometimes he does not show respect to the readers. but sometimes people take things the wrong way. We are humans after all. When humans don't use that opportunity to try and improve, then there is a problem.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            @ocentertainment:disqus has an abrasive attitude sometimes, but he's very valuable as an AP team member, and I respect him. I don't necessarily understand his fear of rooting (as opposed to fear of custom ROMs or deeper hacking, etc), but I respect it.

          • EH101

            Honestly, I don't think he has a fear of rooting, I believe he clearly stated he doesn't see anything gained from rooting, which is fine. I don't take issue with that at all. Heck, I only rooted and ROM'd my Note 2 to change the hideous theme.

            But, I do take issue with the unprofessional use of profanity when he makes his point. There are better ways to do so.

            However, I did type that original response both in haste and with an unfair amount of ill will. With that said, I apologize for my rash conclusion that AP would be better off without Eric. That was clearly taking it too far.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

            FWIW, I use the word 'fuck' because I like it. It's a fun word. I never mean anyone any offense with it (elsewhere I often refer to friends and followers as "you fuckers" affectionately). It's been a while since I've been commenting around here, so I kind of forget that I'm still representing AP, but if my comments were taken as personally offensive for the profanity, I'll be happy to apologize.

            I don't hate people, only mindsets. The idea that people have to be excluded from a community for not doing a thing is something I hate a lot because it marginalizes people. But I don't hate anyone for it.

          • EH101

            I accept your apology.

            FWIW I also refer to my friends in the same general matter. I do my best to hold myself to a higher standard when in public (specifically when around children) or when I represent someone else. I believe we have similar viewpoints here, and that it simply slipped your mind. So again, I apologize to you.

            Also, I wholeheartedly agree with your second paragraph. It is nothing short of ridiculous to exclude people from a group or label just because their ideas may differ.

          • Di Lu

            If your only problem with Note 2 was the Theme, wouldn't a custom launcher be plenty?

          • EH101

            Oh no, definitely not. A custom launcher can rid me of the icon packs and mostly terrible widgets (that I don't have to use anyway), but it can't change the system wide theme. This AP post:

            http://www.androidpolice.com/2012/12/27/att-re-gifts-multi-window-support-gives-it-to-samsung-galaxy-note-ii-owners/

            shows quite well the general theme of the Note 2, though I have the Verizon variant. As you can see, the status/notification bar is a dull grey, and the icons are white. In the notification panel, the toggles are a bright green with an odd shade of blue behind them. And lastly, in the About Device screenshot, the heading is an odd blue. None of this can yet be controlled by a launcher. I much prefer the deep black and ICS blue most AOSP themed ROMs go with.

            http://i49.tinypic.com/1jme9.png

            This is an older picture/version of the ROM I currently use, and on the S3 no less, but it should suffice to give you an impression of what I'm after. The only difference I can tell is the Settings screen doesn't have the grey gradient anymore, now the background is simply black.

        • joser116

          You took my comment seriously and as hostile. Your whole comment was fine until you said " Deal with it". I was not even talking to you.

          • PhilNelwyn

            You're taking Eric's comment too seriously too.
            "Deal with it" doesn't sound insulting to me, just take it as lightly as you think rick should have taken your statement.

          • joser116

            You can't know because you really are not in my position.

          • PhilNelwyn

            "What really irked me was that it was really unnecessary because my comment wasn't directed at him."

            This isn't totally right.
            When you talked about what rick is or isn't, you also talked about what those who are like him are or aren't.
            Comments here aren't private messages, in my opinion it's normal that people who identify themselves with rick feel concerned.

            You're right, though, when you say that I can't really know because I'm not in your position, maybe would I think differently if I was.

          • joser116

            First of all, it was a joke. Second of all, I meant I did not direct it at Ravenscraft and he acted like I directed it at him, so quoting me on that is irrelevant. Ravenscraft took it like I was singling him out. That is my argument, that he took it personally when it wasn't meant to be. If you go back to my original comment, you will see that. This is the only thing that I have been pushing. That my comment was just a "joke" and that Ravenscraft took it personally. That is all I am saying.

          • PhilNelwyn

            Yeah, the following comments are definitely too much, I totally agree.

          • joser116

            I did not say that. BTW: You basically did not even reply to my comment.

          • PhilNelwyn

            What? O_o
            What does "the rest of the stuff did not need to happen" mean then?

          • joser116

            Do you mean what do I mean by "the rest of the stuff did not need to happen"?

          • PhilNelwyn

            Do you need me to explain what "what does that mean" mean?
            Lol That's getting funny.

          • joser116

            ummm you said "What does "the rest of the stuff did not need to happen" then?". And I asked for clarification on that statement, not on "what does that mean", which you did not even say.

          • PhilNelwyn

            Yeah, that's what I said, why don't you reply?
            Don't you understand what that question means?

          • Guest

            I do not, its not even a complete sentence. That is why I asked for clarification, and you have not given it to me. I need it to reply to your "question".

          • PhilNelwyn

            Oh boy... What do we have here? Lol
            Are you a boy or a girl? Is your name Joser or Andreav?

            So you created some profiles to upvote your comments and write flattering replies to yourself? LOL

            I suppose that Lorena is you too... who else? :D

            Ridiculous.

          • joser116

            What are you talking about? I made the comment while I was logged off, hence it says Guest

          • PhilNelwyn

            Yeah, sure...
            Except I managed to take a screenshot of your comment, before you tried to delete it because you mistakenly posted it under one of you alternative profiles, and we can clearly see that it was Andreav, you troll!

          • joser116

            I did not create any other alternative profiles!

          • PhilNelwyn

            Yes you did!
            And you replied to me with it, the proof is just there, in the screenshot!
            It's over now, stop acting...

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            You're a liar. You have 4 separate accounts all upvoting and replying to each other. And then the Guest one. Say hello to the ban hammer.

          • joser116

            I most certainly did not create any profiles.

          • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack

            don't feed those low life loser trolls

        • Jens Knutson

          ...how the fuck is this getting downvoted?

          Alright, self-appointed geek-gods, try me on for size: I work full time doing Android development, meaning I actually *make shit* with the platform we all love. I am damned good with several programming languages and I'm at least useful with twice as many as that. I've been using Linux as my primary desktop OS since 1999. I lived the first 15 years of my computing life on an Amigas. (i.e.: machines that were made before many of you were born)

          I have also rooted half a dozen Android devices I've owned in the past. However, my Nexus 4 and Nexus 10? Not rooted. Too time consuming and too risky for too little gain.

          So, who wants to tell me I'm not a geek? Step right up!

          • joser116

            Probably because of the fact that he took it too personally, use of profanity. His comment was really unnecessary. My comment wasn't meant to be taken too seriously, nor was it directed at him.

          • Jens Knutson

            If by "not taken too seriously", you mean "it was a badly made joke", then yeah, I agree, though I'm not sure how anyone would have known that. :-/

          • joser116

            No, that is not what I meant to be taken seriously. By the looks of it, it was not a badly made joke. What I meant is that Eric took it too personally. My comment wasn't even directed at him and out of nowhere he came and said "Deal with it". I wasn't expecting that kind of answering because, really, my comment didn't ask for it. I literally was like O.o And its a natural thing. Obviously people knew that my comment wasn't to be taken seriously.

          • Chris

            You are not a geek unless you still live at home with your mother and are single.........

          • Guest

            Jens Knutson, take note. This is an example of a badly made joke.

          • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack

            that is called Nerd not Geek :P

          • fixxmyhead

            Time consuming? Bro it takes like 10 minutes literally. Less than 5 if u have the necessary files. And I'm not even a computer wiz. In fact I thought I was even gonna mess up my nexus somewhere along the line but that thing was soooo easy

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

            See, this is exactly the shit I'm talking about though.

            I don't *want* a rooted phone. I don't need it. It provides me nothing that is of value to me. The *only* tangible benefit is wireless tethering, and even that I only use once every six months at best.

            Explain to me why I need to defend this decision. Explain to me why I need to *justify* not spending ten minutes to do something that does *literally nothing* for me. This is exactly the attitude I'm talking about.

            Android is quite fine as it is. Plenty of people can get by without it, including geeks. I don't want to root my phone, I don't need to, I don't lose out on anything, and yet people just can't handle that. It's like I'm insulting your actual penis if I say that I don't want to root my phone.

            Just let it go. I made my choice. Isn't that what this whole thing is about?

          • Lorena

            He wasn't talking to you...stop taking things so personally

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

            If Jens is upset that I replied to fixxmyhead, I will apologize and make him waffles.

          • Lorena

            -_-

          • Jens Knutson

            But I need you to do the thing I did to validate my decision!

            (Also, look how respectful I am! You can tell how respectful I am because I didn't use any swears.)

          • SetiroN

            Too time consuming? Fair enough.

            But please do explain the risks of rooting A NEXUS.

          • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack

            because people are not dumb , they can easily spot who are Geek and who are low life Troll ;-) as dear Eric Ravenscraff said earlier in comment "Deal with It" ;-) :P

        • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack

          why so seriously worrying about Rooting !!!.. what bad can happen if you root your phone . @ocentertainment:disqus would you be kind enough to elaborate (thanks in advance) . i root my SGS2 by myself in 2011, nothing bad happened to me since or earlier ;-).

      • DaveTexan

        Peace. No need to attack each other like this. I grew up with DOS and learned Linux before Windows 95 and have worked in the software industry for 15+ years. But everyone has his/her preferences on how a device should work. I rooted my phone only after the warranty expires and only to remove bloatware. I like CM and would love to have the latest 4.2 on my phone but even their latest build is still missing some features on my stock. The risk is indeed quite high. On the other hand I replaced the stock rom on my tablet because I know the modified version of CM has all the features I needed. To show my appreciation I donated to the developer. I think we'd all have more fun enjoying those devices our ways and don't care what others do with theirs.

        • joser116

          We are not attacking each other, I'm just simply defending myself. Its not like I'm swearing or anything.

      • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack

        You Nailed It.

      • occamsrazor

        This. I don't understand why people proclaim they won't root, like they're making a statement. Its like yelling out "I enjoy not having extra features, hear me roar".

        To each his own though. Some people don't like having better customization or more useful apps for minimal effort.

        • Rovex

          There are downsides to rooting that you cant deny. The main one is that there are apps out there that wont run run on a rooted phone. Unroot or temp unroot you say? Doesnt always work, some apps detect even a previously rooted device that no longer is.

        • joser116

          "I enjoy not having extra features, hear me roar". LOL

    • qpinto

      this is how a few of us feel. i always bought the high end phone hardware wise but had to root it and flash cyanogenmod or another asop alternative to it. now the option is slowly coming around to have the option to buy these phones. I currently have an n4 however im currently iffy on buying the new htc one google edition. i want to see how the updates will be handled on a google edition phone. the screen is actually top notch once calibrated, but the camera could have been better. this will be fixed in new versions however.

    • Chris

      but not everyone has $650 to sped on a phone, not when they can get for for $200-$300 on contract and just root it themselves.

      • Rich Bordoni

        You might actually save money by paying full price.

        Getting a phone on contract means you are paying more on your monthly bill to absorb the cost of the phone. However, when you have fully paid for the phone, your monthly bill will not go down. You keep paying the same higher price.

        However you look at it, the carriers in the US suck - but it's only a matter of time before their business model is disrupted.

        • Jason Storey

          This is already happening. T-Mobile now does this in that you don't pay more. When your device is paid off your bill goes down. Hopefully other carriers will follow.

        • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack

          you nailed it @richbordoni:disqus. i don't understand how do people became that much gullible. they are not getting the cheap phone they are just fooled by their telecom company.

      • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack

        are you the much gullible that you think you are getting phone for a price of 200-300 USD !!!!!! Facepalm

        • Chris

          Hence "on contract"

          Learn to read little man...

          • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack

            why do you want to do a contract in the first place when you are not actually getting the phone cheap, hidden costs are included on the contract. learn to understand the context and actu... oh wait , my mistake , how do you understand context, for that you need to have brain and common sense , which low life loser trolls does not have . I Pity you.

  • PhineasJW

    G1 (at 6AM on launch day) / Nexus S / Nexus 4

    I work with engineers and I think only 1 or 2 have ever rooted and installed a ROM. The Nexus 4 got some sales amongst our group this time around, but most everyone is on contract and generally with Verizon.

    Spot on article.

    We like this one Artem. Keep him around. :)

    One other thought -- when Verizon moves to VoLTE and draws the curtain on their CDMA network, I believe that will trigger the open-handset clause, requiring them to accept pre-paid phones. [Perhaps part of the reason they're dragging their feet]. We might see a paradigm shift at that point.

    • joser116

      Artem? O.o

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

        If you don't know who the owner of Android Police is, you are not a geek.

        • jayray78

          Parry...thrust...touche

        • joser116

          I'm sorry. I did not know Artem was the Android Police owner. Geeks don't need to know that.

          • PhilNelwyn

            That's his point.

          • joser116

            No, his point was to make a joke out of me.

          • PhilNelwyn

            Not a joke, a sarcasm, whose point was that it's not because there's one thing you don't know or don't do, that one can say if you are or aren't a geek.

          • joser116

            No, you really don't understand. You need to read way more up top and see what's going on. It was an inside joke. And I took it seriously because, yes, it was a joke, but the joke was about me. Put yourself in my position.

          • PhilNelwyn

            You told rick "If you will not risk rooting your phone then you are not a geek."
            Eric didn't agree and used the exact same wording, to make you understand that stating what someone is or isn't only based on one detail, as you did, doesn't make sense.

            Like you said, geeks don't need to know that Artem is the owner of Android Police.
            Well, they don't need to root their phone either...
            That's what Eric was getting at.

          • joser116

            It was a joke. Sould I say it again?

          • PhilNelwyn

            The fact that you think I'm saying something different proves that you hadn't understood, because I'm saying the exact same thing, but worded differently to make you comprehend.

            It's actually the fact that your comment was a joke that is irrelevant... joke or not, Eric took it seriously and didn't agree, that's why he made this comment about Artem.
            The fact that your comment was a joke doesn't change the reason why he wrote this particular comment, which is what I'm arguing here.

          • joser116

            What I meant by saying something different is that you didn't directly attack my reply. You just pointed out something else. And just like you said, "Eric took it seriously". I agree, like I have been saying. HE DID NOT NEED TO TAKE IT SERIOUSLY< MY COMMENT WAS NOT MEANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY. The End. I did not say that the fact that my comment was a joke doesn't change the reason why he wrote that particular comment. I said the fact that my comment was a joke makes everything else unnecessary, like this conversation.

          • PhilNelwyn

            "What I meant by saying something different is that you didn't directly attack my reply. You just pointed out something else."
            I didn't point out something else, I kept on explaining to you, with consistency, how this comment is not related to his other comments, but to your first comment.

            "HE DID NOT NEED TO TAKE IT SERIOUSLY< MY COMMENT WAS NOT MEANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY."
            BUT HE DIDN'T KNOW THAT, CAUSE HE TOOK IT SERIOUSLY. lol

            "I said the fact that my comment was a joke makes everything else unnecessary."
            We're talking about a comment that was written 19 hours ago, and you explained that your comment was a joke 17 hours ago, that's 2 hours later.
            Eric wrote this comment about Artem just after his first reply to you, you hadn't replied to him yet... do you see now how it's not related to the rest of the conversation?

          • joser116

            Im totally confused

          • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack

            dont feed those loser trolls

          • PhilNelwyn

            Yep. Completely. ;-)

          • joser116

            That doesn't make anything of what I said any less right.

          • Andreav

            Very nice of you to respond like that

        • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack

          dude dont do drug , thats not good for your mental health, we dont want you became heath ledger of Android Community.

          • Guest

            Honestly, that wasn't necessary.

          • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack

            what was not necessary

    • jayray78

      I think you are in for a rude awakening when you find that VOLTE doesn't change a thing. Sure there are the C-block restrictions you mention, but Verizon has sidestepped those with ease. To clarify I think they will continue to use legacy networks to "authenticate" ....mostly cause they are dicks.

  • Roberto Giunta

    Man, I got the "Phoenix Wright" vibe here, Eric just shouted "Objection!" here!

  • Scavengre

    The G1 was simply my best experience with android I really miss the pure OS experience, I have had various phones since then and honestly I rooted most of them with Cyanogen (Minus my current as its still under Warranty) I would love to get another Vanilla Android phone but I have since ceased all contract phones I spend less with no contract than I did with T-Mos contract. But if I can get a Vanilla experience without a Contract I'm in 100%

  • abqnm

    The best reason for the enthusiast community to rejoice in the release of these devices is not the devices themselves, but the manufacturer released stock Android. This means much less hacking to get stock Android onto a skinned GS4 or One. The manufacturer releases a kernel that works with stock Android plus the essential drivers and they even made Beats and the camera hardware fully functional. This means that developers can use real OEM drivers and kernel source built for stock Android in their ROMs for these devices or even the ROM itself on a rooted/unlocked skinned version of the device. This alone is worth all of the potential pitfalls with the devices themselves.

    • PhineasJW

      Excellent point.

    • NeedName

      Meh. . . only a very very small percentage of Android customers use custom ROMs. . .

      • abqnm

        Notice I addressed only the enthusiast community. That is who this benefits.

        • NeedName

          yeah, I get your point why they should be happy but it's not why the manufacturers are doing it. . . honestly really don't know what their thinking is and I expect it won't continue for long.

  • http://filmitnow.moonfruit.com/ Brandon Wood

    Hehehe...mudblood ;) (Sorry, I couldn't resist)

    • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack

      who ? who is mudblood ?

  • krishna

    I am a novice but why not make all phones stock android and let various players give their touchwiz or sense etc and anyone can buy it and apply it over their stock if they need so that updating would also be easier and people can have a choice of UI

    • Rich Bordoni

      Read the article over again.

    • Chris

      the average joe doesn't give a damn about stock. They buy the phone and use it as is. Plain and simple.

      • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack

        Average people does not read Android blogs either

  • Nikita ‘NikitaRus’ Fomishyn

    Don't forget that those phones will remain with their selling value because they're gonna be updated very often and remain with the % of up-to-date android all the time. Include that with a top-tier phone and you're done. A phone that's never running an old version of android and is working flawlessly.

    Google is going to show the world that all the "problems" with android and malware is because of older versions of android. In 5 years from now, there will be a greater percentage of phones which will include latest version of Stock Android. And probably they will include more options to automatically install roms, or even the launchers will become greater with the possibility of integrate functions to personalize the interface as every brand selling it wants to (for ex. the integration of chrome-os on android, web interfaces running on linux).

    This kind of news from Google, HTC and Samsung make a great sense of progress in the future of android developers, making people and developers thing different in they way they want implement something.

    If every phone came with an easy way of installing a ROM, calling it (for example:) "interface" with a simple program that downloads something, installs it and reboots the phone it probably will make everything simpler that every person could do.

    • EH101

      "Google is going to show the world that all the "problems" with android and malware is because of older versions of android."

      I read this and immediately stopped reading. The problem with malware on Android isn't older versions of Android. Sure there might be some version specific exploits, but the vast majority of Android malware is only encountered when the user downloads(and sideloads) apks from unsafe sources. Aka, pirating. Yes, sometimes questionable apps make it into the Play Store, but that, again, has nothing to do with older versions of Android.

      • Nikita ‘NikitaRus’ Fomishyn

        I've read an article just relating the contrary. They stated that almost 70% of android malware is because of not updated version of it. Also, "malware apps" are labeled by antivirus as apps that make spam to the notification menu. Newer android version include the options to disable notifications from specific apps which made life easier for many of us in third world countries where we have to deal with free versions of many apps, and just the techies downloading repacked full version apps and deal with this kind of malware problems.

        Many people criticizing Android malware live in the US, where they read the charts about it. But I'm sure that most of those numbers come from worldwide countries as mine. Our dollar is ten times higher that yours, we can't buy apps as you do as even a great percentage of us don't have a credit card (even in a country which is quite modern).

        Here in Argentina, I don't know a single person who've purchased an app from the play store, but most people download apps from websites to get the full version.

        Your opinion is based on a capitalist economy where people are paid more, in dollars and with a system designed to waste money as soon as you receive it.

        I am not trying to generalize the US, but that's what I read from every site, blog, social network or anything related to the US.

        Consider that there's a world wide android market, where paying a 300 dollar phone is 3000 AR$, which is 3/4 of a (legal minimum salary) common person salary. And based on this simple math we cannot afford paying for retail apps, while still want to enjoy the functionality.

        Don't get me wrong, I am not an asshole who doesn't want to pay for anything, just because. As soon as I get a job I will buy my main applications as Poweramp, Nova or Apex launcher, and many of the 99 cent apps to remove the advertising because I respect the developers. But this isn't the case of the whole country, where we don't have such a credit system generalized as you are.

        • EH101

          Look, just because antivirus companies label notification based ads as malware, doesn't mean they are malware. That is just a self-serving move for them. Sure, they are woefully inconvenient, but they do no damage to the actual OS or to the end user or data. Companies like AVG or Avira (just random examples of antivirus companies) stand to gain if they classify this as malware because then they can say malware is rampant in the Play Store and use scare tactics to get the average consumer to download their mostly useless apps. In my opinion, people who don't like that method of advertisement should do what I and many others do, uninstall the app. Chances are high that there is a decent free alternative that is supported by normal means of advertising.

          If you have/want/need to get apps from websites, that's fine. That's your choice. But you also lose the right to complain if you get hit by some malware. That is the risk you take when you don't download apps from reputable sources. These sources are not just limited to Google Play, obviously, but that is likely the best or easiest example most could come up with. Reputable sources are sometimes infiltrated with actual malware, but sideloading apks is still the prevalent means to getting infected, aside from countries that have legal and unsafe app stores that host pirated copies of apps (China would be a fine example here, and it has been reported on this site before).

          That is the only point I was attempting to make with my previous response.

          Also, I will say, I sometimes pirate apps that have extremely large downloads to test before purchasing so I don't have to worry about the refund window. I can say with 100% confidence, that I have never kept a pirated app on my device for more than 30 minutes, and that there are none on my device right now. So, in essence, I have no right to cast judgement on you or other people who get apps from the internet, but I do own my responsibility if my device gets infected.

          • Nikita ‘NikitaRus’ Fomishyn

            I get your point, but I still think that developers are making malware because of those global broken system in standardization of a market, and that's because of the problems I mentioned before and many more examples.

            If every person on the world used Google Play, then there would be much less malware developers, as the revenue would be much less, and the resources to make more malware much lower.

            Malware will never disappear, but it could be topic much less discussed if it weren't for that ability to distribute it on every possible side.

            Also, an example of using an updated android system:

            Once I downloaded an app that I couldn't find anywhere for the first time from a random website (usually I use a trusted website), and the Google Install Verification warned me about the malware that apk contained. This is what I was talking about the always-up-to-date device.

            My mother is running stock Samsung modifiend android 2.3, and never got the update with that applications. She downloaded a virus from facebook which installed an hidden app that showed full screen advertising all the time and god knows what else.

  • SetiroN

    That's more like it, on the contrary of the other article, which honestly made me cringe, but that's not a first with Ruddock.

    The problem is still that your impressions are narrowed by your contingency:
    the point of these two devices isn't to sell; it's to exist.

    To let people know there IS a software alternative.
    To show everyone how smooth and flawless that hardware can run.
    To demonstrate to US citizens that hidden price, subsidised carrier-bound phones are a thing of the past and that interoperability is starting to be possible.
    To have manufacturers develop and publish AOSP-perfect kernels with their sources.
    To detach the operating system from the manufacturer.
    And in the end transition Android to an unified platform, where skins are optional and can easily be disabled and that Samsung cannot fork without losing compatibility.

    • NeedName

      there's a whole lot of assumptions going on here!

    • RTWright

      I do not agree with you at all, why? Because none of this has anything to do with Google's intentions. If it did, they'd advertise them to the point where they were competing head-on with Samsung. Problem is, I'm not sure they can really because of their association with the carriers who have also close ties with the OEM's. This causes a lot of strife within all of them. If Google were to put these out in carrier stores however, then advertised them, then everyone of them would benefit from it and these devices would actually get into consumer hands a lot more. But just being stuck on the Play Store and no advertising really being done? Yeah, not going to happen and they're just going to sit there and sell one or two here, three or four there..... They could do a lot better if they'd just put some effort into it!

  • Chris

    Loved the last line... :)

    Very good, well written article. It might hit a soft spot for some, but everything you said was to the point and pretty much very true. The only ones who really give a damn about stock are the enthusiasts. If an average joe buys a stock device, it won't be because its stock. Price, the way the hardware looks/feels or maybe stock just appealed to him more then the other devices. My grandfather bought the Verizon Galaxy nexus. Only because he liked the larger screen. He knows nothing about phones.

    I thought about rooting and even did it once back on my first EVO back in early 2011, but never really got into it. I just use the phone the way it came to me but of course customize it with my own apps, backgrounds and home screen layouts. Even installed a few launchers every once in awhile.

    The way I look at it its gonna be hard to fix this. For little over three years now we had most devices with a custom skin. Stores have spots for samsung phones, HTC phones etc that are all decked out in company branding with logos, huge signs with the image of the phone and what you can do with it. Theres not really a spot for "pure google" phones and how do you attract the average joe to those phones when HTC and samsung offer much more right out of the box and might even offer a better price/discount from rebates and such?

    People should use whatever phone/platform they want and not get so worked up over another guy using a HTC phone or your best friend using an iPhone. If the phone/platform you have works for you, then so be it. Don't base your relationships with people on a damn phone.

  • Jake

    It's mostly the look of stock Android that people love. If the OEMs would use holo themed ui's, they'd get less flack from the "community".

  • PhilNelwyn

    In a move for transparency, my (European) carrier doesn't sell subsidized phones, but it still offers several payment methods.
    Does Google allow customers to pay in installments in the U.S.?
    I'd buy more on the Play Store if I had that option.

    • Rich Bordoni

      T-Mobile does this.

      • PhilNelwyn

        So the Play Store doesn't have this kind of options I the U.S. either?

        • Rich Bordoni

          Nope. You have to pay full price. I think T-Mobile is the only US carrier that you can pay in installments. All the rest have subsidies.

  • http://iamandroid.co/profile/rocktoonz Rocktoonz

    I personally think this was a great article. I consider my self an Android enthusiast, though I've personally owned only one Android phone (so far). I'm still using my Droid Incredible (the first one) on Verizon. I'm many months out of contract, and still have unlimited data, even if it's only 3G.

    When I got my Inc, I used it with the OEM ROM on it for about a month before I decided I really despised Sense. So I downloaded a custom launcher and installed that. That kept me happy for about another month, but still, it wasn't the phone I wanted.

    I rooted it, installed Cyanogenmod 7, at the time the only way I was gonna get Gingerbread, and never looked back. Even after it began overheating, I was able to put the OEM ROM back on (as much to prove to myself that it was a hardware issue and not the CM ROM as to hide the fact I'd done it from Verizon), and got it replaced, I immediately rooted the replacement and restored my CM backup.

    I love the freedom I have with my rooted customized device. It's uniquely mine, and even though it has its bugs, I still love it. But I'd dearly love to get a new, high-end LTE phone.

    There's a very good reason why I haven't done so yet. Verizon. First of all, they have by far the best network coverage of any carrier in the US. Some might argue that AT&T or T-Mobile are faster, or in a few areas get better signals, but by and large when I go to some of the more remote areas of my part of the country with friends, most of whom are not on Verizon, I end up the only one with any signal at all.

    Second, updates. I watched from the sidelines the debacle that was the Galaxy Nexus get completely and utterly ruined by Verizon refusing to allow it to receive updates from Google as a Nexus device should, because Verizon had to make sure it played well with their crapware (what little of it there was on the G-Nex, which was still way more than there should have been).

    It boils down to the fact that I can't bring myself to give up Verizon's network with unlimited data, and can't afford to buy a new phone at full retail cost.

    Having said that, I've been reading extensively the reviews of new devices since I began to approach my contract end. I had high hopes for the G-Nex, a Nexus device on LTE with Verizon was supposed to be the dream, and thankfully my upgrade didn't come in time for me to get one before it became obvious that the Verizon Nexus dream had been turned into a nightmare.

    I have yet to see any device released in the last 2 years that was good enough to entice me to either leave Verizon, or give up my unlimited data for a contract phone. I'm very picky about what I need and want on my phone. I have seen the new Sense, and while it's gotten better, I still want no part of it. I have seen Touchwiz evolve ever-so-slightly, and I still think it's a horribly cartoonish interface. I do like the "stock" look of Jelly Bean a lot, and don't want to have to install custom launchers or root and ROM again, dealing with all the little bugs that inevitably come with custom ROMs. I'd like to be able to buy a phone that just works, doesn't look like a cartoon iOS copycat, and doesn't set me back a mortgage payment to buy it.

    I'm beginning to think that's never going to happen, and I'll end up with something I'm going to hate looking at much less using when I'm finally forced to upgrade due to either a hardware failure or Verizon being greedy bastards again.

  • silaslenz

    Eric, I like you.
    This makes so much more sense then that strange stuff David wrote...

  • Michael Panzer

    As a real Android developer who writes source code every day, I couldn't care less about Custom ROMs or people using them.

    I have a Nexus, 4, 7, 10 and a few older Android Phones. They are all the way they are and not rooted or something else.

    Why? Because I want to get the experience the REAL user gets while developing and debugging.

    The 2nd point I have to make about stock Android is that I see it as a starting point for developing and designing. I can't make an app that looks right on every skin out there. But what I can do is making one that relies on Holo or Holo.Light and hope that other people do that as well, so our apps will look consistent on a non stock Android phone.

    I really hope normal people will buy this phones and learn to like the Google Experience. To buy this phones just to flash them seems just stupid to me. I feel the same way about buying a Nexus 4 to flash a Custom ROM the moment you get it.

    • NeedName

      I agree with all your points till the last one, these devices are NOT "Google Experience" devices. Just because the manufacturer left off their custom UI doesn't mean it's suddenly a "Google Experience" device. They still come with all the baggage any non-Nexus device has always come with — manufacture+carrier fubar-ness

    • RTWright

      We could really care less about you as well. Your apps and or designs do not matter to us until they're actually seen and used and we get to decide at that point rather or not your product fits our needs. Having this kind of attitude about the users is the wrong way to go. As a developer myself of websites, I have to contend with people all the time, working from different platforms, different browsers, desktop, mobile, the whole lot of them.

      And no, Stock Android is not just a place to start from for developers only. When I first got my HTC Evo 4G back when it was released, I'd much rather had a straight stock Android than Sense. Coming from a long background with computer retail and such, I know what bloatware is, I know what crappy UI's are. That's all any mobile phone from OEM's come with, is crap! Over loading the internal storage with junk, stuff that NO ONE uses hardly. Yet they claim it's what consumers want, yeah right.... There is not an OEM out there that knows exactly what the consumers want, not even Samsung. But you know what they do best at? Making the consumers believe that that they do, but advertising the crap out of till you believe it yourself.

      I own a GS3 and did not like TouchWiz, did not like any of their so called Samsung software that it came with, I found better in apps off of Play. The only thing that I did like was their camera which is tied into TW and cannot be ported without it. I could go down a list of things that none of these OEM's do for their new flagship phones. This is why I feel that IF the consumer had better access to phones with just Stock Android, they would sell, a lot more than they will sitting on the Play Store itself.

  • Bas

    You might be overlooking the fact that Motorola - a Google company - is about to release a (set of) new Android smartphone(s). Presumably running stock Android.

    When Motorola will release this new smartphone you can count on it that they will go full steam ahead with their new marketing efforts. A new Motorola stock Android smartphone with "a solid release schedule of updates that will keep customers safe against malware and up to speed with new software innovations", might be a great unique selling point over Samsung, HTC, Sony, LG etcetera... companies well known for their weak update schedules. If Motorola is going to emphasize the positives of stock Android over skinned/bloated versions of Android, they might be able to change the Android game completely. Google has always said that they believe Android has become too fragmented. With Motorola putting the spotlight on Google Now, Maps, Play Music... and so on, Google has in Motorola an ally in promoting Google software. Something Samsung, HTC, Sony and LG for example do not promote specifically, because they want to promote their own developed software. For example all Samsung commercials and ads are all Samsung software related (running on Android).

    Google has also stated before that they will treat Motorola nothing different than other manufacturers. With releasing Google Play Edition firmwares they can treat these other manufacturers also equal to Motorola! If the issue was to keep Samsung satisfied as the largest Android smartphone manufacturer, they might have succeeded with this move. HTC just hopped on the GPE wagon as a strategic move against Samsung to join the buzz.

    This might explain the GPE strategy from Google...

  • RTWright

    I'm going to go out on a limb here, there is far more reasons than just being "Stock Android" to look at these devices. Problem is, like the article has already pointed out. No one will look at these because they don't get any form of real publicity, advertising at all hardly. Not enough to make them really count. The hardware specs alone on both of these are far better than any Nexus device. The S4 if I'm not mistaken, is the first to offer a microSD and accessible battery for a device on Google's store. That in itself sets it far apart from the others already. But both of these come at a hefty cost to the consumer outright.

    Now had they done this at the very release of these devices and had already been advertising them as being such a first for Google and as well being purely "Stock Android", it may have paid off. Problem is, Google is always way behind the playing field with these things. There has not been a single Nexus line of products that have even come close to the sales of Samsung ( Hard to say about HTC considering their slump they were in ). With all the money Google has, you'd think advertising would be the first thing they'd start doing in advance of getting such devices to ramp up sales. But also considering their last major sale they couldn't handle the massive amounts of orders they did get without everything mucking up. I think these devices should have been offered at Carriers too, to give far more choices to consumers who have in fact stated their dislike to certain OEM based UI's.

    At least if they were available at carriers as well, they'd have a much better chance of selling a lot more and would remove Google Play from having to be the only way to get them. Pricing would still be high, but at least they'd have a larger store-front than just Play. I'm a avid Android fan, I have the GS3, it's got a custom ROM on it, my HTC Evo did as well for almost the entire 2 years I was using it. I've seen the good and bad come and go for a while now. I hold no loyalties to any single brand, but myself, I tend to do a lot of reading up on the next device offerings before I even think of going for a purchase. Not many consumers go that far with smartphones, they do with cars, homes, appliances, but generally not so much with smartphones. They should though, because then they'd learn a lot more about where their money is going and what they're getting in return...

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    Just FYI. @joser116:disqus is now banned for using 5 separate accounts (4 + Guest) to comment on the same story and reply to/upvote himself.

    • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack

      and what about Eric Ravenscraft's use of profanity and trolling, is he forgiven because he is Android Police Stuff ! (nepotism)

  • Railwayman

    I have always rooted my devices. In fact, I started to flash custom ROMs onto my Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 and got huge improvements and also the ability to upgrade to Windows Mobile 6.5, which was never provided officially. After that initial experience, custom ROMs has been the way I go and my Android devices are always rooted and flashed within the first hour. Using a device with stock ROM with bloatware is not what I want. Carrier branding? Completely out of the question - I simply avoid a device if I see any kind of carrier logo or applications on it.

    It should be 100% clean and that is a minimum.

    My requirements on the Android experience is very specific: Paranoid Android and even better PAC (CM/AOKP/PA combo) since I want the tablet UI on my big screen device, for example the Xperia Z I use now. Using the stock ROM, either Google or skinned just doesn't cut it since it lacks all those features even if there is a fiddly workaround with Xposed Framework App Settings module.

    From my point of view, the Google Edition are a clever move by Google. The Nexus 4 is a great device - especially for the price (superior to all US carrier branded devices when it comes to value) but there are restrictions, especially with the storage capacity.

    For those that can't live with the small storage space, other devices are the option but they have their issues too like TouchWiz (I don't like it at all) or even worse: carrier bloat unless you opt for the imported, unlocked ones.

    Now Google offer a decent solution: Google Edition HTC One, Galaxy S 4 and later the Xperia Z (but I would rather recommend them to wait for i1 Honami). Especially the S 4 solves the limitations of the Nexus 4 in a great way and is a way of getting vanilla/AOSP on better hardware with decent storage options. Everything unlocked and nice - no need to go the imported route (for those that are worried about US warranty).

    Compared to the carrier branded TW-S 4 with a price tag of $199 + $100 x 24 = $2599, the GE is a superior way to go. No bloat, great customization options, unlocked and a great price in the long run since you have great prepaid options.

    They are also a superior base for custom ROMs and greatly enhances the development potential, which leads to better CyanogenMod, Paranoid Android and AOKP.

    On the retailing part I say this: Google does everything right with offering devices through Google Play. It would be nice to sell them in stores too but I am afraid that carrier exclusivity can cause problems. I don't know any US retailer with US devices that offer unlocked and unbranded products. Best Buy provides nothing more than the carrier versions albeit under one roof. The only unlocked, standard device I found there was a GT-i9505 that Samsung used in their S 4 demo corner.:)

    Google Edition is a severe competitor to the carriers but also requires that the staff can explain the benefits - it is a completely different animal. It is easier for Google to take care of the retailing in-house as the situation is now.

    The shipping problems with the Nexus 4 is a lesson and I think Google and the manufacturers will ramp up production quicker when the next Nexus is going for sale.

    If Google get the Sony i1 Honami in GE edition, I am very interested in getting it. Otherwise, it will be an imported one (as usual) unless Sony Store offers it. Going to a carrier? No way, such a nice device shouldn't sport any carrier logos or bloatware. So no thanks.

    • Samsung Fanboy

      rooting ruins your phone--at least it did for my Galaxy SII back when I had it.

      is there such a thing as rooting without a custom ROM? like rooting the stock ROM I have already. I dont want to ruin my HTC One with some garbage (including the CM ROMs)

  • http://trapchan.blogspot.com trapchan

    Yep, after having high resolution photo contact on my xperia (full screen), i can't got back to stock. Stock android lacks many functionality.

    Well ... I'm good with my current Xperia U (have to root it to remove all the resource hogger to make it usable though).

  • Dt Bell

    Good article, Eric

    You're right, if either of these phone don't "touch you in all the right places" you probably are looking for a different experience with a smart phone. My caveat being, at the moment, Android-wise, this is as good as it get.