An unlocked GSM stock pure Android Samsung Galaxy S4 was announced at Google I/O 2013, available June 26 from Google Play for $649.
The unlocked bootloader allows for rooting and flashing, and Google promises that you’ll get the same exact experience as Nexus devices with system updates released at nearly the same time that Nexus devices receive them.
It’s not clear whether the pure Android version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 will include an option to use the less-stock TouchWiz launcher, or if users will have to install it, flash a ROM, or perform some other mod that includes that launcher.
As mentioned above, the bootloader ships unlocked, so there is no need to go through the registration companies like HTC require in order to unlock devices and track users for warranty purposes.
At $649 a unit, though, people interested in getting an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S4 may be more apt to go the route of the carriers and just hope they can unlock and flash stock Android. But it’s still a great step forward toward openness across some great devices.
Google’s pure Android Samsung Galaxy S4 ships with 16GB of storage (expandable via SD) works on AT&T and T-Mobile’s LTE.
I’m not sure if flashing radios is included with an unlocked Samsung bootloader, but ROM and kernel flashing should be open and ready to go out of the box, which can be ordered straight from Google Play.