May 18 AT 9:43 AM Dustin Earley 44 Comments

The Nexus Experience Galaxy S4 is most likely a software modified T-Mobile S4

Samsung galaxy s 4 design generic

When Google announced the Nexus Experience Galaxy S4 (which shall henceforth be referred to as the NES4), information on exactly which hardware variant Google was using for the device left something to be desired. We know that it includes 16GB of storage, has a removable battery, a microSD slot, appears to retain its physical button configuration and has access to T-Mobile and AT&T LTE. By process of elimination, we’re fairly certain at this point that the NES4 is merely a software modded T-Mobile Galaxy S 4.

What makes us think the NES4 is a T-Mobile Galaxy S 4? Good question. After poking around online, in my own personal research, I found that the T-Mobile Galaxy S4 is the only variant of the device capable of supporting all the necessary bands for T-Mobile and AT&T. Both AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s Galaxy S 4 variants are essentially the same phone, but AT&T has some locks in place that keep the S4 stuck on AT&T. I wasn’t positive how these locks worked, or if that even was the case, but research from AnandTech’s Brian Klug seems to confirm and explain why the SGH M919, or T-Mobile Galaxy S4, is most likely the same device as the NES4.

SGH-M919 has always included support for LTE on Bands 2, 4, 5, and 17 (that's 1900 PCS, 1700/2100 AWS, 850 Cellular, and 700 Lower B and C) and WCDMA on Bands 2, 4, and 5. At another level, this is the same hardware as the AT&T variant but without the arbitrary RAT (Radio Access Technology) locking that AT&T has put in place to restrict use of Band 4 WCDMA which T-Mobile needs for a good experience. This translates to that support for AT&T and T-Mobile LTE and WCDMA. That also means Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064AB) and no Exynos 5.Brian KlugAnandTech

The chances that the NES4 is an entirely new model of Galaxy S4 are slim to none. There’s no way Google is having Samsung manufacture a new model of GS4, just to keep the same exact hardware configuration. Hugo Barra, who was spotted walking around I/O with the device, said the software wasn’t finished yet. Another good sign Google simply took an existing device and is working away on it.

At this point, you may be wondering what this means for you. If the NES4 really is an SGH M919, then a simple software flash should turn your T-Mobile S4 into Nexus Experience device, complete with updates directly from Google and all. If the NES4 is an entirely different device, which again, we don’t think it is, then you’d be out of luck. There are still AOSP ROMs for the T-Mobile S4 as it is, so it won’t be that big of a change either way. Still, for someone like me who doesn’t mess with custom ROMs much anymore, an Odin flash to a Nexus Experience device where Google will take care of the updates sounds very nice. Especially on a device that can be bought with T-Mobile installation plans, not $650 upfront.

We’ll be following news around the Nexus Experience S4 closely, so stay tuned for more.

Source: AnandTech

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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  • http://goo.gl/tQ2E wwJOSHdo

    I hope someone is able to port this to the Sprint Galaxy S4. Pretty cool stuff. Thanks for keeping us up to date Androidandme!

    • Richard Yarrell

      I love it Samsung and Google saying here’s MUD in your eye Verizon. That makes me happy.

      • snowbdr89

        English moron!!

        • Frank

          Google Transalate perra!

      • blinkbloonk

        Taco Taco

      • Tony

        Too bad neither of the supported main carriers in the states here have coverage comparable to the one who’s “getting mud in the eye”.

        A great device is garbage if the network you end up using it on is worthless.

  • jerrbomb

    That’s crazy how much it is.. But its not google branded… So we can’t complain.. I’m happy either way with my GS4.. But if I could just freely she’ll out the money for a Google Edition Galaxy S 4 I would..

    • Ashton wilson

      If you have tmobile, like I do, just return it! I’m doing that and am getting my $700 back! (I bought it in full) I can wait another month for the first non-nexus phone on stock!

      • clocinnorcal

        Why take it back? If you have the Tmobile version, wait and see if making your S4 is as easy as flashing the software to make it a NES4.

        • clocinnorcal

          Of course since you paid full price, I guess you could take it back and just buy the NES4 from Gplay.

        • Ashton wilson

          Because I don’t want to take any chances, there is a 30 day return policy. Trust me, if I could, I would!

      • Howard

        Wasnt the first non-nexus phone on stock the G1?

  • bowen84

    I’m going to buy the NES4 and flash Touch wiz on it!

    • jerrbomb

      Lol.. Nice one.. Lmao..

  • ALee

    Any phone of mine will be a “Google Edition” in short order anyway. Bloat be damned.

    • Nate B.

      It might not be “Google branded” but they said at the keynote it would get updates straight from Google

  • David

    I might buy only if Google is providing the updates. Otherwise I will wait for Xphone or real Nexus. I am a little hesitant on 16GB since that barely works for me on the Note, but running stock should cut back on the bloat and media can still be kept on SD.

    • Nate B.

      Did you not watch the keynote? Google said they would update it directly as if it was a nexus “branded”.

      • David

        I did watch the keynote. Hugo said that it was a Nexus experience and would receive prompt updates, but no one has yet said where those updates will come from. It will probably be pretty good, but I am concerned that if Samsung is too involved that they will start to lag more as time goes by. I would be confident in Google, but if it is Samsung then I have doubts about their commitment to maintain the software for a low volume device.

        • Bobba

          But the phone is going to be sold only on the Google Play Store. So who do you think will be updating it then? ….drum roll pleas….Google.

  • tommydaniel

    If that’s the case, I’ll be finally switching from Sprint to T-mobile.

    • Ashton wilson

      Do it buddy

  • Mark

    I hate how they keep releasing US versions with other hardware that isn’t true to the international variant.

    Fist GS 1/2 they all had same hardware all around but had capacitive buttons on US carriers.

    Now we have same GS 3/4 layout with different internals WTF when will we get one the way samsung intended them to be

    • Dustin Earley

      Right now, it really comes down to radio compatibility. Which is going to be fixed by the end of this year, early next year. Next year’s flagships should all have identical internals.

    • CTown

      Performance wise the internals are not all that different. The Snapgragon based devices work just as Samsung intended them to. It’s just Samsung and NVIDIA like to hype up their own gear. Qualcomm perfers to work behind the scenes (that’s why they are not making their own video game console like NVIDIA).

      Plus, the Snapgragon seems to work better on our networks, it is battery efficient, powerful, and unlike the international Galaxy S 2/3/4, has community support. In my opinion, we in the US get the better versions of Samsung’s devices.

      • clocinnorcal

        This is true! Much of the international versions have been abandoned as far as development because of Samsung’s in-house chips.

  • Nate B.

    I understand this article, but I feel it was stretched to make sense out of what Google decided to do.

    • Dustin Earley

      I can only come up with one reason why Google is really releasing this device. Because people asked for it. Every time a phone is released, a vocal minority takes to the Internet to say things like, “I would buy this if it had stock Android.” It won’t hurt Google at all to see if people will put their money where their mouth is, and gauge interest in this sort of thing.

  • CTown

    If Google and Samsung are using the same signatures in their firmware, wouldn’t someone be able to flash Google’s firmware over an AT&T GS4 without much effort?

    Anyway, I don’t think this device is going to be a Google controlled Nexus device. Though, at least Samsung will not have to deal with carriers to update it!

  • Andre Osose

    Hate evil and accept Jesus Christ today.

    • Raptor

      Learn ALL religions first, it will definitely not hurt you.

      “Christianity began as a Jewish sect in the mid-1st century.[3][4] Originating in the Levant region of the Middle East, it quickly spread to Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor and Egypt. It grew in size and influence over a few centuries, and by the end of the 4th century had become the official state church of the Roman Empire, replacing other forms of religion practiced under Roman rule”

      You know why Romans adopted some cult of unknown sect? To pacify numerous territories of then huge empire, because this cult makes you a slave, just believe and care about nothing. You know what happened with Roman Empire just two centuries later? It broke in pieces. You know why? Because dumb slaves can not rule.

  • Dylan Andersen

    This is probably true, because Gundotra has been posting photos to Google+ using the same model device.

    See for yourself:
    https://plus.google.com/107117483540235115863/posts/QFqJDuGyhkW

  • rauelius

    I’m just calling it the Galaxy nexuS 4……

  • Ichigo

    AT&T can suck a fat one.

  • Max.Steel

    So I guess you could call this phone the…Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

  • donger

    This phone is overprice, at least make it a 32gb version.

  • GenTrevNL

    I think Google is trying to get every manufacturer to release a Nexus experience device so that it doesn’t look like favoritism when they release a Nexus Experience Motorola device.

  • Shawn Clark

    Its a good thing im switching to T-mobile…soon as my contract up with Sprint in July

  • sam

    Could this be the X phone everyone was raving about? Its not a Motorola device but could this be the X phone Google may have hinted at for the longest? Something to think about!

  • Jimmy_Jo

    Since AT&T is trying to lock everything down, a T-Mobile device is now basically a US unlocked device? I am not a fan of the international Samsung devices because there is little Exynos support in the Dev community. And most good MVNO’s are T-Mobile based anyway since AT&T is restricting their SIMs (the few left) to 1.5GB/month and who really wants an MVNO backed by Sorint…

    I plan to get the T-Mobile GS4 flash an AOSP ROM and then go back to TouchWiz when I sell it since whoever buys it will probably want all the crap from the commercials.

  • Jammers

    OK, so can someone explain WHY does Sammy insist on a front of the device physical KEY? I’ve got the Nexus 4 and it’s just disconected for me to have a physical button to push on the face of the screen. If Home key’s needed I just run my finger down to that part of the screen. Has Samsung said WHY they keep insisting on putting these out? I can’t imagine going back which drives me nuts since I DO like the Note 2 and the S4!

  • Ken

    So can I flash my current S4 to Google Experience in the future? since they are using the same hardware, I mean, I would love to have a pure google exp than touchwiz crap.. :-)

  • Michael Patton

    As is A typical Google, They always have a Brain Fart. Wouldn’t it have been better for Them to have the NGS4 sold by both AT&T and T-mobile? They would have had the device sold by 2 Major Carriers as well as in House. I was doing My own research and found out that if You buy the Google version Your insurance is useless . Although My Asurion Insurance will cover replacement, it won’t be replaced by another Google variant. It will be replaced by a T-mobile locked device. Also please do realize that any mods will void the manufacturer warranty. So what do You get for $20 more. A Nexus experience Galaxy S4 with only manufacturer warranty and insurance that is next to useless. Would I love to have a stripped down GS4 without all the blot ware? Sure but at what cost? I don’t get Googles business decisions. I currently have the Nexus 4 but although the phone is capable of operating on LTE it was blocked. Google is brilliant at software and an open platform to layer what ever You want to on a Phone. At the same time They have 0 business sense.

    • clocinnorcal

      Cell phone insurance is a scam! Over $10 per month + $150 deductible over a one year period is around $270! At 2 years its almost $600. That is some expensive piece of mind. Think about what you could buy with that money other than insurance. Unless you are considerably prone to drops and negligent breaking. Besides, you can go to Asurion and purchase your own insurance outside of Tmobile, ATT, or whatever carrier you have.