Recently there's been a rumor that Sony is planning on releasing stock AOSP ROMs (clean, Nexus-style builds of Android) for some of its high-end phones and tablets. It's easy to understand why Sony in particular might attract that kind of attention: the company has better support for aftermarket development than most, promptly releasing binaries and source code on the company's own GitHub and even some developer-grade AOSP builds. But as for consumer-ready, finished and fully supported AOSP ROMs?
Google officially pulled the HTC One M7, Galaxy S4, Xperia Z Ultra, and LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition devices from the Play Store not too long ago. Since then we've seen a couple of them pop up on sale across various distributors. When an eBay seller offered the Galaxy S4 for $499 ($150 off) last month, we considered that a deal. Before that, Expansys USA offered the Z Ultra for the low price of $349, $100 less than what Google last asked for it.
Google officially pulled the Xperia Z Ultra GPE from the Play Store a few days ago, but it looks like stock wasn't completely gone. The device has shown up on Expansys USA for just $349.99. That's $100 less than Google's last price for it. We don't know how long it's going to last, but Expansys says it has more then 100 in stock right now.
Android 4.4.4 is just a minor security update, but what's the point of buying these Nexus and Google Play Edition devices if you can't have the latest and greatest no matter how minor the update? The Google Play Edition Moto G is finally living up to expectations with an OTA to Android 4.4.4. Just like the LG G Pad Google Play Edition (that's the LGGPGPE for "short"), this device is making the jump straight from 4.4.2 to 4.4.4.
Have you been wondering if Google really ran out of the Galaxy S4 GPE? Well, maybe there were a few left over. That would explain the cache of devices that just popped up on eBay. Someone has acquired a number of the devices and is selling them at a steep discount. Just $499.99 for an unlocked Google Play Edition smartphone. That's $150 off what Google was selling it for a few weeks ago.
Google took its sweet time updating the Nexus-style Google Play Edition of the G Pad 8.3 to Android 4.4.3, but it looks like they had a good reason. The tablet has been zipped straight to 4.4.4, and the over-the-air update should be going out now. If you're not willing to wait - and it might be a few days, considering the staggered rollout - we've got a link to the update ZIP file below.
If you're still on the fence about picking up a Google Play Edition of the LG G Pad 8.3, Sony Z Ultra, or HTC One M7, you may have run out of time. All three devices are presently showing as out of stock on the Google Play Store. History tells us that once devices go out of stock on the Play Store, they often tend to remain in that state indefinitely.
Holy crap, that was fast. According to a flood of tips we just received, at least some owners of Google Play Edition devices are now seeing updates to over-the-air Android 4.4.3. The latest incremental update to KitKat was just published yesterday - some Nexus devices don't even have it. At the time of writing (Tuesday afternoon US) we've been told that the Google Play Editions of the HTC One M7 (2013 model) and the Galaxy S4 are receiving over-the-air updates.
The Xperia Z Ultra is an odd proposal from a hardware perspective. The huge 6.4" 1080p screen, Snapdragon 800 processor, and 2GB of RAM say "high end," while the 8MP rear camera lacking a flash seems a bit down-market. Perhaps that has something to do with possibly tepid sales at the phone's $679 price point... and also Sony's decision to lower it. XperiaBlog reports that the price for the phone has been dropped to $449.99.