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In Praise of the Samsung Galaxy S4

What about the software? You can buy the Samsung Galaxy S4 in two ways:

1. Buy it from the carriers: AT&T (T), Verizon (VZ), T-Mobile (TMUS) and Sprint (S).

These versions will have Samsung's own versions of Android 4.2.2. There are three things to be said about this:

A. It's not as good as pure Nexus version of Android. This is true. It takes up more storage, isn't as beautiful and just looks too busy if you turn on all the Samsung-specific functionality.

B. There are two useful areas where Samsung has actually improved on the Nexus software: keyboard and quick settings. The Samsung keyboard is the best non-BlackBerry keyboard in the business. It shows the numbers and letters without having to switch between the two. The quick settings for WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, etc. are also the best.

C. You can ignore it! Basically, once you have used the Samsung Galaxy S4 for a while, you can disable the most annoying parts. The performance is still great. It's still a cutting-edge Android.

2. Buy it directly from Google: Google Play Store, online.

Google has partnered with Samsung to create smartphone nirvana: The best hardware, together with the clean Nexus Android software. This gets rid of all the ugly bloat, and saves a lot of storage/space. All the crapware is gone.

You can buy the "Google Play Edition" of the Samsung Galaxy S4 for $649. That's the same price as the iPhone and competitive with most other high-end smartphones. At that price, you are eligible for the lower monthly rates from T-Mobile, where you pay only $50 per month, or $100 for four lines.

At those prices, a user would save $40 per month compared with AT&T and Verizon for just one phone. Multiply by 24 months and you have $960 in savings over two years. For four phones, you would save much, much more.

In other words, $649 isn't expensive at all. On a two-year basis, it's a bargain compared with, say, buying an iPhone through AT&T or Verizon.

Conclusion: Smartphone nirvana has arrived.

There is a reason Android keeps sailing to market share heights, and there is a reason the iPhone, while lovely in many respects, has stalled in the market share game.

This reason is the genius of the Samsung Galaxy S4. It dominates Android flagship sales, it's available with clean Nexus software for those know the difference and it has lifted Android's attractiveness in terms of competing with the iPhone.

As things go, the smartphone evolution has not stopped. We will see better devices soon, whether from Motorola, LG or Samsung itself. Apple will eventually launch a larger phone too. But for now, it's clear that on essentially all fronts, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the first smartphone in history to have hit the nirvana stage.

At the time of publication the author was long GOOG and AAPL, and short MSFT.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
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