Then, some time in 2014, Android 6.0 will be introduced. Will the Samsung Galaxy S4 get it at all? What's Samsung's motivation to prioritize it?
The point here is that there is a better way.
A year ago that better way was called Samsung Galaxy Nexus. It continues to run the very newest Android software still to this day, and you get these updates right away, faster than anyone else.
Almost 18 months after its initial release, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus will be running the same Android version that the two generations newer Galaxy S4 will be running from Day 1. That's what you want from your smartphone, and that's what the Samsung Galaxy Nexus gave you and still gives you today.So what should you do? If the Galaxy S4 isn't the answer, how do you proceed? The answer is this: Wait until May 15 and see what Google announces in terms of a new Google smartphone that will run Android 5.0 straight out of the box. Such a new Google smartphone could be made by Samsung itself, Motorola, LG or someone else. Perhaps there will be several. Who cares? It doesn't really matter who makes it. Your other alternative is to pick up a used Samsung Galaxy Nexus on eBay (EBAY), possibly for $100 or less, and no contract required! If you can't find one, and if you want something that will for sure be upgradeable to Android 5.0 quickly, pay $349 and get an LG Nexus 4 directly from Google at google.com/nexus. Lesson learned: Software trumps hardware The hardware differences between all of today's top-tier smartphones are relatively minimal. They all get their latest chips from Qualcomm (QCOM), they all have screens of similar resolutions, and so forth. Does it really matter if that screen is 4.8 inches or 5.0 inches? The game has moved from hardware to services. To get those services, you have to have the latest software. To get the latest software, your device must upgrade right now, not six or 12 months after the fact. This is why your Android should be a Nexus. As I described in an article last week, Google may be broadening its Nexus strategy to Motorola and its own in-house skunk-works department. These devices may run Nexus software but not be called Nexus, just to keep people calm, avoiding in-your-face competition and conflict. Whatever they will be called -- Nexus and/or otherwise -- those are the devices you should buy, the ones that ship with Android 5.0 right out of the box, already in May, and will be getting the software upgrades to 5.1, 6.0, etc., right away -- not many months after. So do yourself a favor and take a pass on that Samsung Galaxy S4.
At the time of publication the author was long GOOG, AAPL and QCOM. Follow @antonwahlman This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.