The HTC One M8 Google Play Edition is no longer on the virtual shelf in the Play Store, signaling what could be the death knell for GPE devices.
The One, just like the Galaxy S4 and Moto G Google Play Edition phones, ran stock Android without the manufacturer custom skin. The Play Store sold them unlocked, which meant you could take them to whatever carrier the hardware would support.
They weren’t cheap, as they didn’t come with a carrier subsidy. The One, for example, was priced at $699 while the Galaxy S4 sold for $649.
This is probably the end of the road for Google Play Edition phones, as the store now only lists the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 for sale, which are both Google-branded devices.
Google whittled down the available Google Play edition options throughout the year, eliminating the Xperia Z Ultra, LG G Pad tablet, Galaxy S4, and Moto G in previous culls. Google probably feels such devices are no longer necessary, with Motorola and HTC shipping Lollipop relatively quickly and Samsung exploring dialing back TouchWiz. But it’s unfortunate that the only phone now offering pure, unadulterated Android is one that’s a little difficult to use with one hand.
The impact on you: If you want a pure Android flagship phone, your options are to either get a Nexus 6, Moto X (which is nearly pure Android), or find one of the Google Play Editions from a third-party retailer.