Should Google bring back Google Play edition smartphones?

By | 8th May 2018
Samsung Galaxy S9

So I went and picked up a Google Pixel 2 XL, thinking it would be the perfect replacement for the iPhone X. That didn't turn out to be the case, unfortunately, so I made the decision to switch handsets and go with Samsung's Galaxy S9+. I might not get software updates as often as I'd like, but, honestly, some of the features I'm waiting for in a future version of Android are already in place on the Galaxy S9+, so I should be fine.

But, what if we could have the best of both worlds, right?

We used to, actually. I had almost forgotten about them entirely until a friend started talking about it after he found out I picked up the Galaxy S9. His first question to me was, "How are you going to handle not having the newest version of Android on your phone?" I honestly didn't really have an answer for him immediately. It took me a few minutes to just come to terms with the fact that I'm picking hardware over software.

And giving up the better camera. But hey, we're at the point where all of these cameras are fantastic.

But then we got to talking about Google Play edition devices. The handsets that weren't made by Google, or even Nexus devices at the time, but were stock experiences anyway. We saw the Galaxy S4 with a Google Play edition, and a few different handsets from HTC, including the One M8 in 2014. The list isn't extensive by any means, and we should have had more. But it was definitely better than nothing (in most cases).

The HTC One and One M8 were my favorites to be sure. I just wasn't a fan of the Galaxy S4 at the time, even with the stock experience. But more than the handsets I loved the idea and, now that I'm using this Galaxy S9, I'd very much like Google to bring it back to fruition.

Could you imagine the Galaxy S9 with the stock Android experience right out of the box, and with timely security and other software updates coming down the pipe? Or the LG G7 ThinQ or rumored V35 ThinQ? I know that the proprietary software from these companies has improved over the years, but I still think a Google Play edition might catch on, too.

I can say without hesitation that I would have picked up the Galaxy S9+ at launch if it had a Google Play edition variant.

What about you? Would you pick up a new smartphone if it were a Google Play edition option? Or do you prefer your device manufacturer's own stock experience, with the custom UI and all? Let me know!