Google likes the Samsung Galaxy S4 so much, it wants to spin its own “Nexus version” of it. Today at I/O 2013, Google demoed an S4 device, but with a stock version of the most recent build of the Android operating system. In short, everything Samsung did in terms of software has been scraped off.

This new version of the S4 will be sold via Google Play for $649 starting June 26. The device will be unlocked, and compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile. It will have 16GB of internal memory, which is expandable via the the SD card slot, naturally.

The unit will be bootloader-unlocked, something that brought cheers from the crowd here at the I/O event. Critically, the device will receive system updates “promptly,” according to Google. This is basically the Google Nexus Galaxy S4.

IMG 0410 730x486 Google reveals unlocked Samsung Galaxy S4 running stock Android, coming to Google Play for $649 on June 26

In short, whether you are an Android developer or an Android enthusiast, and you want a device that has top-notch performance for work or for play, this version of the S4 may be it. The only real problem here is the price.

For whatever reason, Google has decided that it will charge more for its version of the S4 than you can get Samsung’s flavor in store (almost everyone offers it for around $600, but still less than Google’s $649 price tag). This seems like an odd move to us.

Then again, Google has yet to offer a Nexus phone that sells very well. Price is always a factor, as is country availability, not to mention supply problems (the Nexus 4 comes to mind in particular). It’s a bizarre strategy, but it seems like Google is more interested in seeming like it sells phones than actually selling phones.

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See also – Samsung Galaxy S4 gets Pentagon approval, breaking BlackBerry’s hold on the US government and AT&T is taking pre-orders for the Samsung Galaxy S4, $639 upfront or $199.99 on a two-year contract