S4 Nexus Edition: Is It Better Without TouchWiz?

The Galaxy S4 has already sold more than 10 million units in the first month of its availability. It looks to be right on course to break all the records that were set by the Galaxy S3 in 2012. However, there is one thing that is holding this mighty handset back. It is Samsung’s custom Android UI, dubbed as ‘TouchWiz’. The S4 features the latest in terms of hardware, but the same cannot be said of the clunky TouchWiz UI. The previous versions of this software layer was never known to be fluidic in the past, and although Samsung has claimed to re-work the entire navigation, there is a certain amount of lag when using the S4.

So, when it was revealed that Google will be selling a Nexus Edition of the S4 that comes with stock Android, the news sent the tech world abuzz. Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean brings forth an incredibly smooth and fluid UI as well as overall enhancements that just make it easier to use the Android ecosystem. But does it work well on the S4? And what about all the “enhancements” Samsung has built for the S4? Let’s delve in and see if this version of the S4 is better than the original.

Interface Differences


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The biggest difference here is the fact that now the S4 Nexus Edition does not come with Samsung’s UI, TouchWiz. Its numerous animated effects meant a device as feature-rich as the S4 would still lag at times. Therefore, the inclusion of stock Android is something many Samsung users have been clamoring for a long time now. Vanilla Android is better on two counts. First is the fact that since there aren’t any manufacturer customizations, the UI feels significantly smoother and lag-free. Second advantage is the timely updating that will come to the S4. Samsung is notorious for lengthy delays when it comes to delivering the latest version of Android, so users of the S4 NE should be glad that their devices would be some of the first to get the latest Android version.

Stock Android is slightly harder to get acclimated to, and as such is geared toward enthusiast users. That being said, 4.2.2 Jelly Bean is so refined that first-time users will not feel alienated by the ecosystem and navigational elements.

What Else Has Changed?


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The numerous sensors that were there in the original S4 will work with the S4 NE, and that should come as a comfort to users. Other than that, all Samsung features, like Air View, Air Gesture, and S Beam are not available. Also gone are some of the features that Samsung included with the original S4 like Smart Scroll, Smart Stay and Multi Window. Also missing is the ability to move the default storage location for images directly to the SD card and now users will have to rely on third party software to move their content to the SD card.

Difference In Imaging


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With the S4 NE comes the new camera UI from Google. The S4 NE still has the ability to take 360 Panoramas, but the nifty UI settings that were found in the S4 that allowed for taking images from both cameras at the same time, and other features, like Drama Shot, Merge and Cinema Mode are missing. Image quality is still the same as there is no difference in the sensor that is being used. Another feature missing is the ability to take HDR videos.

Usability


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Overall, thanks to the reduction in the bloatware and the drain of system resources caused by TouchWiz, the S4 NE is significantly better off, with stock Android feeling fluidic on the device. Battery life is also a major concern, and the S4 NE manages to last an hour longer. Plus you have about 10GBs of extra storage space savings. Otherwise, there is not much to differentiate amongst both devices.

The S4 NE is a great device to use. It not only features the best hardware, but also has great software running on it now. With the addition of devices like the S4 to the Nexus line, Google has done a great job in giving more choice and freedom to consumers. Stock Android on the full-HD screen of the S4 NE feels wonderful, and is a delight to use on a daily basis. The only downside to the S4 NE is the camera UI that isn’t as good as what Samsung offers on the original S4. Currently, the Samsung Galaxy S4 price in India is Rs. 35,899, as seen here, and there is no word on whether the S4 Nexus Edition will be available in the country. The S4 Nexus Edition retails everywhere else for about $649.00 USD.

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About the Author

Asif Shaik

Asif Shaik

I am a Consumer Electronics Expert with MySmartPrice, which is the best price comparison website in India. I am a computer sciences graduate and I have been closely following the consumer electronics space for the last 6 years. I am a technology blogger since the past 2 years.