The wait is finally over: starting now, you can purchase two leading Android smartphones, the HTC One and Samsung's Galaxy S4, each loaded with a stock version of Google's mobile operating system. Both "Google Play edition" unlocked GSM devices go on sale today, priced at $599 and $649 respectively. Initial orders will ship by July 9th according to Google. The Galaxy S4 and One Google Play editions are being sold alongside Google's existing line of Nexus products — flagship hardware meant to showcase Android the way its creators intended.
Today marks the first time these smartphones have been available stripped of their respective manufacturer "skins" — Sense in the case of HTC, and TouchWiz for Samsung. For end consumers, that means a user experience free of carrier bloatware and access to timely Android updates in the future. For a closer look at how these phones stack up when running identical software, check out our review.
Crucially, today also represents another big test for Google as a retailer. The Play Store experienced significant problems in November when the Nexus 4 went on sale to online buyers, leading to confusion and disrupted orders for some customers. Now the company faces an even greater challenge in selling two extraordinarily popular handsets simultaneously — a situation Google hasn't found itself in previously. It's impossible to predict how things will pan out this time, but it should be interesting to see which device proves more popular on day one.