Google and Samsung: French Kissing Again

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I told you so.

And they had been doing it all along, just as I said.

The only hardware Google ( GOOG) announced at its annual developer conferenceWednesday was a Nexus version of the much-beloved Samsung Galaxy S4.So much for Google and Samsung not getting along!

Recently, I reviewed the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the headline was "The Best Android That's Not Nexus."

The articleended with the following paragraph: "Here is what Samsung should do:Make a Nexus version of the Galaxy S4. That would be the idealsmartphone in the Android world today. Until then, we buy the Nexusthat actually exists."

Little did I know that Google would announce just this product thefollowing day! It will be available June 26, and it will work on LTEon both T-Mobile and AT&T ( T) -- and of course every other GSM-basednetwork in the world.

The price is $649, which is identical to the 16-gig version of theiPhone. The one difference here is the Nexus version of theSamsung Galaxy S4 has expandable storage, in the form of theindustry-standard MicroSD card.

Based on everything else that is in the market today, there is no needto review this product. Why? Because it's obvious that it is goingto be the best Android in the market -- however temporarily, andassuming no other relevant flagship Android device being introducedbefore June 26.

As I wrote in my review of the Samsung Galaxy S4, it is the bestAndroid hardware in the market today. The problems with the deviceare the inferior Samsung software, plus the way it's sold(SIM-locked).

I wrote that if you could just pair this industry-best hardwaretogether with Nexus software, you would have the ideal Androidsmartphone imaginable. In other words, Samsung and Google listenedand decided to make it!

The only remaining question is this: The Samsung Galaxy S4 has ahardware button, flanked by two software buttons: a menu button (onthe left) and a back button (on the right). This arrangement is, perdefinition, inconsistent with Nexus software.

Nexus software has three software buttons -- a home button in themiddle, a back button on the left, and a multitasking button on theright.

I have asked Google for clarification as to how this will work on theNexus version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 hardware. As of this writing,I have not received anything more than "Nobody seems sure; we'relooking into who might know the answer."

There are three main alternatives for how this hardware-softwareconflict could be resolved:
  1. Samsung could re-spin the hardware, simply removing its buttonsand allowing the Nexus software to work on the screen, just like anyother Nexus.
  2. Samsung could keep the hardware but "double up" with the threeNexus buttons on the screen. Would look a bit inelegant and goofy,but it would work.
  3. Samsung could alter the Nexus software so as to fit with itsexisting three buttons. This would "work" but would it really be a100% Nexus at that point?

I wouldn't be totally surprised if I find out the answer to thispressing question even before this article has been published.Somebody from Google will probably clarify this soon enough.

The other question that arises here is: How does this Nexus compareto the current Nexus -- the LG Nexus 4?

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Nexus is $649, versus the $349 for the 16-gigversion of the LG Nexus 4. How is the $300 -- nearly 100% premium --price difference justified?

The Samsung Nexus has, compared to the LG Nexus:
  • Expandable storage (MicroSD card)
  • Removable backside (removable battery)
  • Bigger battery (2600 vs 2100 mAh)
  • Functioning LTE, although that could change -- in part -- on the LG,with a potential future software upgrade that is far from a given, andif so, only on T-Mobile, not AT&T.
  • Bigger and better display: 5 inches, 1080p vs. 4.7 inches, 720p
  • Faster CPU/GPU: Qualcomm ( QCOM) 600 vs. previous-gen Qualcomm processor
  • Better camera: 13 megapixel vs. 8

In particular, I appreciate the bigger battery in combination with theplastic removable backside. Clearly, the Samsung is the vastlysuperior hardware. Does it justify the extra $300? Not yes, but hellyes! No doubt about it, in my view.

If you are in the market for an Android smartphone, and you don't needa BlackBerry ( BBRY)-style hard keyboard, this looks like it will be thedevice to get -- by a wide margin -- when it becomes available onJune 26 for $649, SIM-unlocked, contract-free. Get it directly fromGoogle online.

See, that was easy, wasn't it? Thanks to Google and Samsung forlistening to my demands.

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

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

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