The Samsung Galaxy S4 is one of the most powerful smartphones in the market today; there’s absolutely no mistaking that fact. Great specs, amazing screen, every hardware choice is cutting-edge, making it future-proof for a fair amount of time. Unfortunately for me, it has one near-fatal flaw: Samsung’s very own bloatware. Or, as I have uncharitably called it before, “stuckware”. Because what you have is a phone with half of its storage taken away by all the hard-burnt gimmicky features that Samsung calls software innovation. It’s a problem that Samsung has finally and publicly acknowledged too, and it may even be forced to issue an update that reduces the storage space all the S-features collectively occupy. Best of luck with that, Samsung!
The perfect pair
But that’s not all. All of this bloatware also makes the device painful to use, and it’s the one fundamental reason why Android updates don’t roll out fast enough on Samsung smartphones. I cannot even begin to imagine the disproportionate amount of time, money and effort Samsung must be spending on building TouchWiz and the whole bunch of S Features. In my very humble opinion, Samsung should leave software innovation to Google. It’s Google’s prerogative if it wants to include gesture support into an Android phone, or Smart Pause or any such trickery. By trying to play the software innovation game, Samsung is now stuck in a vicious cycle of its own creation. It must now outdo itself with crazier gimmicks and greater fanfare, when none should’ve existed in the first place. In stark contrast, Google routinely outdoes itself every year. This year’s Google I/O is a classic example of how it can bamboozle everyone with a tsunami of very useful software innovation, and do that without any of the over-the-top fanfare that many manufacturers now routinely indulge in.
Thankfully, Google has decided to short-circuit every Android phone manufacturer’s mad quest for software and UI differentiation, and give the consumers just about what they want, except the price maybe. Because we’ll have to wait and see what the Google edition S4 will cost once it hits our Indian grey market (fat chance this phone ever gets launched in our market officially!). In all probability, it will cost more than the regular S4. Samsung has currently priced its Galaxy S4 at an MOP of Rs 40,000 and the Google edition S4 will retail for $649 (Rs 35,000 thereabouts) in the US. By the time it gets to our shores, its price may very well be pushed beyond Rs 40,000. Either ways, both Samsung and Google have a winner on their hands.
Up until this point, we’ve never had the best Android smartphone without compromises. But that's all changed this year! Regardless of what phone you were considering till day before yesterday, the Google edition S4 is now the best Android smartphone to save up for. Google didn't mess around with the hardware that Samsung provided, because it simply didn't need to. Taking so much nonsense-ware out of the smartphone will pay huge dividends in terms of responsiveness and app performance. And it's this combination of supreme hardware performance, class-leading software innovation from Google, and the guarantee of getting an update or revision whenever its released that vaults the Google edition Galaxy S4 to the top of my recommended phones list.
I know what I’m going to get come end of June!