Just two days ago, Google announced a variant of the Galaxy S 4 packing the "Nexus user experience." Although not an I/O giveaway, Google chose I/O to announce the new variant. I've spent a lot of time at I/O tracking down what information I could about this SGS4 with Nexus experience device, but there's not a whole lot to be known beyond what was announced in the one title slide and blog post. At a high level the details are known — it's an SGS4 with 16 GB of internal storage, unlocked modem and bootloader, with support for T-Mobile and AT&T LTE and WCDMA band support. The price is what you'd pay for any other SGS4 unlocked without a subsidy, $649 through Google Play starting June 26. 

First, the SGS4 with Nexus Experience doesn't really have an official name yet. At present it's just being called an SGS4, and doesn't appear to be getting tagged with the Nexus brand. Next, by process of FCC ID elimination and lots of asking around, I am now fairly certain that the rumors about this being the T-Mobile USA SGS4 hardware variant, specifically SGH-M919, are true.

SGH-M919 has always included support for LTE on Bands 2, 4, 5, and 17 (that's 1900 PCS, 1700/2100 AWS, 850 Cellular, and 700 Lower B and C) and WCDMA on Bands 2, 4, and 5. At another level, this is the same hardware as the AT&T variant but without the arbitrary RAT (Radio Access Technology) locking that AT&T has put in place to restrict use of Band 4 WCDMA which T-Mobile needs for a good experience. This translates to that support for AT&T and T-Mobile LTE and WCDMA. That also means Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064AB) and no Exynos 5. 

Lastly, I'm fairly certain that Google is using the "Nexus user experience" in place of the previous "Google experience device" branding which it used previously. This does however mean updates are indeed delivered by Google and not some other entity. Matias Duarte referred to this work with Samsung to bring an SGS4 with Nexus experience directly during the later Android fireside chat. We'll have a review of the SGS4 with Nexus experience in due time as well. For enthusiasts who like the SGS4 and don't want the TouchWiz software bloat, this might be the device to get, if they haven't gotten one of the skinned, carrier-approved bundles already.


The only other interesting device related news is tangential and unrelated. I had a chance to hold Taylor Wimberly's (of Android and Me) White Nexus 4 which he picked up from an unnamed source at I/O. The white Nexus 4 looks stunning in person, it's stark white on the back and has a slightly cream colored tinge on the lip. There's still the laser etched pattern behind the glass as well, but obviously white. The front of that Nexus 4 remains black however. There's a chrome lip around the camera aperture as well instead of the black ring. Hardware inside remains unchanged of course, there's none of that LTE goodness we hoped might get enabled, but it's still a striking aesthetic change. 

Source: Android and Me, Google

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  • darwinosx - Friday, May 17, 2013 - link

    The price is what you'd pay for any other SGS4 unlocked without a subsidy, $649

    Every non-subsidized S 4 I've seen, including direct from Samsung, is $749.
  • Deusfaux - Friday, May 17, 2013 - link

    I want to remind everyone that not even all Samsung manufactured Galaxy Nexus (Nexus 3) models were created equally. Updates were not bleeding edge for several variants. There was a way developed around this in time, but for the average user, you could get stuck with a phone that was still waiting weeks/months to get the latest update, as they were controlled by Samsung instead of Google.
  • Brian Klug - Friday, May 17, 2013 - link

    You're referring to toro and toroplus, the Verizon and Sprint variants. Those were basically not Nexus after it became obvious they were subject to operator approval for pushing updates to.

  • eallan - Saturday, May 18, 2013 - link

    He's not referring to that, he's referring to the Yakuja (I think) and other type of Galaxy Nexus. The firmware updates came from different sources so you could reflash one to the other type. http://forums.androidcentral.com/google-samsung-ga...
  • Doh! - Saturday, May 18, 2013 - link

    It doesn't matter. It will be available only in the US for now so there will be only one version which will receive OTA updates directly from Google. Even for Yakjujp users, they could've installed a vanilla Yakju ROM and receive OTA updates from Google.
  • plastic101 - Friday, May 17, 2013 - link

    What about TMo WiFi calling?
  • icrf - Saturday, May 18, 2013 - link

    One of my big problems with getting the SGS4 was when a few big names behind CyanogenMod came out and said they weren't going to support it due to Samsung's lack of support of the development community (or something like that). This sounds like it changes that, as they don't need Samsung to support the hardware, they have Google for that.

    So my question becomes how close is this T-Mobile handset compared to the Verizon one? In my part of the country, Verizon is by far the best carrier. If I get a subsidized carrier locked version, and someone cracks the boot loader to allow third party firmware, how useful will this open Nexus Experience Device be to third party software efforts to the cracked Verizon handset?
  • novastar78 - Saturday, May 18, 2013 - link

    Very easy actually... In fact its probably a much better deal to get the S4 on contract, flash a custom recovery and then flash the stock Nexus firmware when Google releases it. Most likely it will not even require modification. If it does someone on XDA will do it and make the ROM available for download.

    As far as "cracking the bootloader" on the S4 is concerned it's already good to go...just head over to XDA they have all the instructions there.
  • novastar78 - Saturday, May 18, 2013 - link

    Probably the best part of this announcement is not the Handset itself but that now all S4 users will be able to get a very easy to flash stock Google android experience with little to no modification. This essentially makes every S4 a "Nexus" phone.

    Spending 700+ for a smartphone for me is outrageous especially considering I can get a very comparable Nexus 4 for half that.
  • fahadfreid - Saturday, May 18, 2013 - link

    I wanted to ask if you'll be doing the review of the Exynos version anytime soon?

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