LG Electronics said its G Pad 8.3 is to be “the first ever device to be designated a Google Play Edition tablet”, while Sony’s Z Ultra phablet is also being made available in a Google Play version.
Devices made available in Google Play form do not feature any form of manufacturer customisation of the Android platform, and are also intended to be upgradable with future releases – similar to Google’s Nexus-branded devices.
Z Ultra Google Play (which appears to have lost its Xperia tag, possibly for the sake of brevity) and G Pad 8.3 Google Play will both be made available with Android 4.4 (KitKat), the latest version of the platform.
While several smartphones have been available in this line, including variants of Samsung’s Galaxy S4 and HTC’s One, the catalogue has not so far included a tablet (or phablet, for that matter).
LG unveiled G Pad 8.3 in September 2013, marking a return to a market where it has largely been absent for some time (its Optimus Pad was debuted in 2011, to little fanfare).
Offering a Google Play version will give it a chance to generate some more sales for the device, although it is not immediately clear if it will see a material uplift. It also gives the company something of a boost in profile terms.
Reports earlier this week suggested that LG was set to work with Google to offer a Nexus-branded tablet, based on supply chain links. It appears that these fell into the almost, but not quite category – a Google Play device, but not a Nexus-branded one.
Google currently works with Asus for its Nexus 7 tablet and Samsung for the Nexus 10, with LG supplying the Nexus 5 smartphone.
While it is clear that Google and LG have a strong relationship (LG also supplied the Nexus 4 smartphone), Nexus devices have traditionally been manufactured by a range of vendors – so increasing LG’s prominence further would go against this.
“LG’s working relationship with Google has always been strong and our collaboration on the first-ever Google Play Edition tablet is proof of that commitment,” Jong-seok Park, president and CEO of LG’s Mobile Communications division, said.
The latest Google Play devices are currently only listed for US sale, with no reference made to international availability.