Just a quick heads up, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play edition has been removed from the Google Play Store. We’ve seen devices removed in the past, only to return later in the day, so we’re not sure how “final” this might be. We should point out the the phone is still listed under Google Play Support’s country availability page, but given it’s already been a little over a year since Samsung first announced the Galaxy S4 GPe, we’d imagine the handset has been finally put out to pasture.
It was only a few weeks back Google thinned out the number of GPe devices on Google Play after the sudden removal of Sony Z Ultra, LG G Pad 8.3, and the original HTC One (M7). Currently there are only 2 Google Play edition devices left standing: the HTC One M8 Google Play edition and the Motorola Moto G Google Play edition.
As it stands, the fate of Google Play edition devices hangs in the balance. For the uninitiated, Google Play edition devices are smartphones and tablets free from the usual user interface customizations offered by manufacturers. A stock Android experience as it were, similar to what we find on Google’s own Nexus devices. Not too long ago there was rumors of Google replacing the program with Android Silver, essentially the same idea, but one that would see near-stock Android variants offered on-contract by major US carriers. Unfortunately, it seems the man spearheading the Android Silver initiative recently left Google for SoftBank.
Also, let’s not forget one of the program’s biggest partners passed on offering up a GPe version of their flagship this time around — the Samsung Galaxy S5. It’s all too telling given the fact that Samsung, whom last year was first out the gate to announce a Google Play edition device, sneezes out hardware variants like no one else. Given Samsung only has to alter the software found on the Galaxy S5 in order to offer a GPe variant, it’s still possible we could see it added in the future (but we aren’t holding our breath).