For those of you who want a too long; didn’t read of this entire article, the title pretty much sums it all up. I can tell you that throughout this entire article there isn’t a single reason that I actually like Google Play Edition devices. No silver lining here whatsoever.
Alright, so let’s get to it. Google Play Edition devices, as many of you know, are Google’s gift to consumers who want popular flagship handsets without the popular flagship skin and bloatware. Instead of dealing with Samsung’s TouchWiz or HTC’s Sense, you can use the Samsung Galaxy S whatever or HTC One whatever using stock Android. GPE devices also essentially serve as Nexus devices in the sense that they’re among the first to receive Android updates - which makes sense given that these devices use stock Android, so there’s not a whole lot of reason to delay a release. No skins or bloatware to work with, so why would they have to wait?
Not every flagship gets a Google Play Edition. So far you have the Samsung Galaxy S4, the HTC One (M7 and M8), Moto G (which isn't really a flagship, just popular), and Sony Xperia Z Ultra. Some rumors suggest that there might even be a Samsung Galaxy S5 variant eventually, but I feel like the more likely scenario would be to wait for the Samsung Galaxy S6 at this point. But I digress.
Either way, my real problem with Google Play Edition phones isn’t the fact that there aren’t many of them, or that they offer a “pure” Android experience in lieu of the skinned versions. My problem is that GPE shouldn’t really be a line of phones to begin with. Rather, they should take the “problems” that GPE devices solve and incorporate them into Android regardless.
Many people praised Google Play Edition devices due to the fact that you can have a phone like the Galaxy S4 or the HTC One and not deal with bloatware. No carrier bloatware, no manufacturer bloatware, etc. While I can get on board with the sentiment that bloatware in many forms is nothing short of annoying when you realize it’s taking up precious space on our phones, I wouldn’t go so far as to say it should be an “all or nothing” deal. Either you get the original model and you have all of the bloatware, none of which can be removed, or you get the Google Play Edition and you get no bloatware, none of which can be replaced. There’s a simple solution for this, and a solution that I have wished Google would incorporate into Android for a long time: the ability to uninstall unnecessary bloatware apps. Windows Phone allows this, so why can’t Android?
Then you have the whole “quick to update” deal. While that’s nice and all for your average consumer, most people who are just itching to get their hands on the latest software update are probably going to find loopholes to do so first. The great thing about Android (and its developer community) is that there are always people working to bring the latest update ASAP - especially for flagship devices. If you know how to gain root access to your Android and flash a ROM, which I’m inclined to say many Android veterans do at this point, then a lot of the time “quick updates” aren’t going to matter because unofficial ROMs will generally be available first.
And while the average consumer might benefit from these “quick updates” on a GPE device, I wouldn’t recommend buying a GPE to one of them from the get go. Most of the time it’s the bloatware and extra features that entice the average consumer in the first place. More often than not, they’re not going to care about stock anything. They just want the phone because they recognize the name and heard it was a good device.
It’s about to be 2015. I feel like the biggest problem that still plagues Android is the fact that you can’t uninstall bloatware without a root. But instead of allowing that to happen, let’s instead bring out the exact same device without any bloatware, any skins, and hardly any features at all, charge you more money for it, and call it a day, shall we? Or, you know, you could just buy a Nexus.
Also, I kind of lied. I’m willing to say that the Moto G is probably the only GPE device worth considering, but only because it costs the exact same as the original Moto G does. It’s such a low price that you can’t really argue with it. But that’s the only example where I would deem GPE acceptable.