Don't get me wrong, the Galaxy S4 is a great handset if you're into that sort of thing. It's just not the handset it could be thanks to the presence of the most obnoxious Android skin: TouchWiz. At its I/O conference in San Francisco this morning, Google fixed the Galaxy S4, and made it cheaper in the process. Well holy crap.
Basically, what Google did is take the Galaxy S4 and nuke it with a stock version of Android 4.2.2, which is a gorgeous operating system and how Android should be used.
It has 16GB of storage that's also expandable, LTE support, the same 1.9GHz processor that churns out amazing performance and it has an unlocked bootloader.
Best of all, it gets prompt updates of Android direct from Google. No futzing about with telcos, just a straight push of an OS update over the air -- we presume.
This is all excellent. No, wait. It's more than that:
This is important.
It shows that Google has a fine appreciation for the silicon under the hood and the way the Galaxy S4 looks, but feels it could work better as a pure developer device. Google pinched the Galaxy S4 and made it a surrogate Nexus device.
The only issue is that it's currently being sold on the Google Play Store to residents of the US only from June 26. You can get it to Australia with a third-party shipping agent, and you'd still save money against buying it in Australia.
To walk into a Samsung store right now and buy an S4, you have to part with $899. To get your hands on the Google-ified Galaxy S4, you'll pay $US649. Even if you drop $100 on a shipping agent, you're still up $150.
Win, win, win.