Last Updated: June 29th, 2013

Rumors and hints at Google's next release of Android have been spilling out for months, but today we've got some evidence that Android 4.3 may be real and nearing completion. SamMobile got their hands on what's purported to be a pre-release build of the upcoming version of Jelly Bean (yes, it's still Jelly Bean), apparently intended for the brand-new Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition, which hasn't even started shipping itself. The ROM was swiftly ported to the generic LTE version of the Galaxy S4 (GT-i9505) that currently serves as the de facto standard for US carriers.

Screenshot_2013-06-28-10-28-331 Screenshot_2013-06-28-10-34-371 Screenshot_2013-06-28-10-34-451

I'll be honest: I'm skeptical of the veracity of this ROM. There's nothing here that couldn't be faked by inserting a few publicly-available files from the new Google Play Edition hardware into an AOSP build, or simply re-labeling the current build for the Galaxy S4 GPE. The only indication that this ROM is significantly different than other non-skinned 4.2.2 builds is in the settings menu - aside from the camera and the "Phase beam" live wallpaper, there's no concrete evidence that we are, in fact, looking at a major new release. Note that the wallpaper is listed as "Sun Beam" on the Google Play Edition devices, and is shown as a second "Phase Beam" (after the familiar blue ICS wallpaper) in the screenshot below.

The ROM can be downloaded and flashed right now, assuming that your GS4 LTE is rooted and running a custom recovery and you're willing to take the risk flashing an unverifiable firmware. Though we can't vouch for the software ourselves, SamMobile reports that is fully functional, and that "there is not even a single thing which isn’t working." The build ID is JWR66N. From the extensive screenshots provided, cosmetic changes from 4.2 are minimal. The new camera interface is present, as is the new red SunBeam/Phase Beam live wallpaper.

Screenshot_2013-06-28-10-31-401 Screenshot_2013-06-28-10-28-501 Screenshot_2013-06-28-10-33-211

While this sort of ROM tinkering always comes with a warranty-voiding disclaimer, it looks like a pretty typical operation if you're familiar with custom recoveries and ROM flashing. SamMobile has made both a standard and deodexed (theme-friendly) version of the ROM available, both of which include the Google Play Store and Google's standard apps. They weigh in at 385MB, and must be flashed via a custom recovery - Samsung's Odin software won't work.

Naturally, we'll be picking through the release, and will report on anything interesting that we find. Once again, we can't verify that this is a true 4.3 ROM at the moment.

Source: SamMobile

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • pepoker1

    OMG the used RAM its only 500 MB :O, on 4.2.2 ist 900MB

    • Sven Joy

      That would be incredible!

    • Amer Khaznadar

      Would that be a stock 4.2.2 ROM?

    • Simon Belmont

      Maybe it's the first stage of RAM usage reduction and performance increase (Project Butter Advanced?) in Android 4.3. I read that KLP is supposed to be more friendly to lower end devices, so of course lower RAM usage would benefit to that end.

      Prediction: I bet Google will update the G'Nex to Android 5.0 in the fall as proof that older hardware can more easily run it.

      • RitishOemraw

        That would be awesome and explain quite a few things.
        But I am still getting a new Nexus phone this year to replace my Gnexus (which I assumed would not receive the update after 4.3)

        • Simon Belmont

          Me too! I actually just got an extremely good deal on a second hand G'Nex a couple weeks ago to tide me over till then (I switched carriers and needed a GSM phone).

          It would make sense. I can't wait for the fall!

          • RitishOemraw

            It could be that originally 4.3 would be the last upgrade for the gNex, but seeing as they are now planning to let it have KLP/5.0/whatever will come after 4.3 they delayed the 4.3 launch at i/o and are now busy getting the next version running on gNex.... or I am too optimistic

            anyway, what phone did you have before?

          • Simon Belmont

            Even if the G'Nex doesn't get official KLP, we'll still get it in the form of CM11, I'm sure. But, I wouldn't doubt Google giving it KLP because older hardware should be able to handle it better, if the articles/rumors I've read are true.

            I had an EVO 3D (I still have it, but it's retired from day to day service). I'll probably give it to my son when he's old enough to be able to use it for something (music, gaming, etc). It was (is) a great phone. I had CM10.1 running on it flawlessly. I moved to a carrier that is GSM (my old one was CDMA) and the freedom of just getting any unlocked phone and using it is huge for me. I naturally centered on a Nexus phone because I've always wanted one. I didn't grab a Nexus 4 because I didn't want to spend a ton of money on something I'd be replacing in the fall. I'm enjoying my G'Nex.

    • Alex Flynn

      If its a fresh install after a wipe of course it will be less, there wont be any other services running apart from stock stuff

      • Simon Belmont

        You're right. Although, a 400MB difference is pretty big though.

        Can't wait for someone to deconstruct this ROM and go through it with a fine-tooth comb. Interesting times ahead.

    • yahyoh

      so what ? AOSP always use less ram than TW or Sense

      • Stacey Liu

        He's talking about AOSP 4.2.2. The system is using about 750 MB on my Nexus 4 right now... so if they brought it down to 500, that's terrific.

    • Rockwell mellow

      On 4.2.2 on my nexus 4 I get about 1400 mb ram free

  • sag

    have you find out any new features?

  • Robert Macri

    There is a setting in the wifi advanced menu about using the wifi for location even if its off that I don't have in 4.2.2, I'm pretty sure that is new, right?

    • Kenny O

      Good catch. That is definitely a feature I would take advantage of as I almost always leave my wifi off.

  • M1lkm4n

    I think it's legit. Look at the sammobile screenshot of the "Advanced WiFi-Setting". There is the new point "Scanning always available". Why would you fake that?

    Second, the api-level changed to 18 and according to androidcentral (i know, unapproved company, sry acj) there are new developer settings and bluetooth_le under hardware features is present.

    • Simon Belmont

      I wonder if that "Scanning always available" is part of the new "Fused Location" they were talking about at Google I/O. That would make a lot of sense.

      Using Wi-Fi for location is faster than cold booting a GPS, and probably uses less battery than a network location. This would benefit tablets that don't have network data also.

      • akshay7394

        Haven't they always used WiFi for location seeking? I know Maps always asked me to turn on wifi to get a better reading.

        • Simon Belmont

          They do, I believe. I guess this technically would be more useful for devices with mobile data connections because even if Wi-Fi is off, it can scan access points for a faster location fixes.

          It just sounds like it's part of Google's push to make location services consume less battery. Just my two cents.

          • Matt

            I hope this and the new Maps release continue to optimize Location services. I actually like Latitude and Location Reporting (both for my own uses and for knowing the locations of friends/family) and would love to see that decrease in battery impact.

            Luckily, the Google Services Framework update already helped a lot in terms of GPS usage, but I feel that Google with Now and Latitude integration into Google+ is pushing towards more and more of a location focus. I can't wait for it to be less impactful.

          • Simon Belmont

            Yeah. I think this Wi-Fi scanning option plays right into the location data being obtained more efficiently than always powering on the GPS.

            Hopefully Google can keep improving it and location aware apps can continue to flourish. Good stuff, indeed.

          • akshay7394

            That makes sense, yeah.

  • Kenny O

    I read that the Google Play editions have the new camera interface yet are still running 4.2. Has anyone had any luck side loading or upgrading to the new camera on a Nexus 4?

    • Robert Macri

      you missed yesterday's news... the new camera APK is all over the place and yes its working on the Nexus 4 and most other phones.

      • Kenny O

        Yeah, I caught something late last night but it was from another less reputable site so I was not sure. If it doesn't come from AP, I generally am less apt to believe it.

  • Simon Belmont

    I have my doubts about this ROM too, but who knows. I know that Android 4.3 is more about under the hood changes, but this has almost virtually no user-facing changes at all, save for the camera UI.

    Like David said, this could pretty easily faked by editing some strings. Either way, I guess we'll find out soon enough, as I'm sure the real Android 4.3 will be released fairly shortly.

    • Thomas

      Android 4.2 also didn't have many changes.

      Google has reached a point where they don't have to do a lot of noticable changes to the operating system anymore, so I wouldn't suggest many changes until 5.0/KLP

      • Simon Belmont

        True it didn't have too many changes. But it had more user-facing changes than we've seen in this Android 4.3 leak, so far.

        Lock screen widgets, Photosphere, Daydreams, Quick Settings, just to name a few things that were introduced in Android 4.2. Those were all user-facing changes. So, again, as I said above, I believe it'll be more behind the scenes things. Probably performance and efficiency related.

  • suprah
  • Jon Bradley

    This is real folks. The developer options match the new ones shown in a vid from google i/o.

  • James

    I've noticed a bit difference of the clock size on the Google's pictures with the clock time 4:30
    but on those pictures I don't see any difference of the Clock size!
    Also This looks so JB 4.2.2 with some modifications fro AOSP.. Camera and LWP are same in JB 4.2.2 (Google Edit. one and gs4) and why the heck GS4 Google Edition would even have JB 4.3 yet if it's not even available for the Nexus device(s).....
    This is a bit confusing...

  • Stacey

    The new FPS monitoring dev options appear to be there, as shown in the Android Graphics Performance exhibit at I/O. That shit is cool as hell and adds a lot of legitimacy to this. It's pretty hard to fake something like that.

  • Nicholas Tino

    Working BT 4.0 and LE by any chance?

    • Igor Magun

      I wanna know this as well. Vanilla Android has been lacking BT 4.0 drivers for far too long, hoping 4.3 finally brings them.

  • http://ramonnavarro.tumblr.com Ramon Navarro

    Does this updare have HDR support in the camera?

    • http://tinyroar.com Cats-R-Friend


  • deltatux

    I think people skimmed the SELinux part, I think that will be huge going forward as Google has been working to get SELinux to be an integral part of Android to beef up its security. Yes, I know SELinux started as an NSA project ... let the conspiracy theorist bash their heads on that thought *sigh*....

    The SELinux part in itself leads me to believe that these shots may actually be real....

  • Jooyoung Hong

    It's real but only a beta.. still not sure why they changed the name of sun beam lwp.. maybe cuz it's a beta

  • Asphyx

    I was under the impression that 4.3 was going to be reserved for their Googaroloa X Phone.

  • Damien

    So much faster than 4.2.2 Google edition rom! Pitty there's no root yet though :-(

  • KVT

    can flash on ICS 4.0.4 ?

    • Diaz1999

      Do not stupid please!

  • Diaz1999

    After they build JWR45B, now they build JWR66N