Google has today supersized the GPE product line with the addition of the 6.4-inch Sony Xperia Z Ultra phone (review) and LG G Pad 8.3 tablet. Both devices are now available on the US Google Play store, the Xperia Z Ultra for US $649 and the G Pad 8.3 for US $350.
A “GPE” edition shares the same hardware specifications as its forebearer, but runs “stock” AOSP Android and receives updates to newer versions of Android faster than the OEM’s own devices, since there’s no customisation to be done. Google introduced the Nexus-like class of devices at this year’s Google I/O developer conference with the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One. Both devices will be available in black and otherwise feature the same hardware specifications.
Australians found themselves left out – along with the rest of the world – on the original Google Play Edition hardware earlier this year as the devices have only thus far been sold in the USA. We were also discouraged from importing them as the devices featured US-spec LTE radios, incompatible with Band 3 (used by major Australian carriers).
The Z Ultra omits Band 3 LTE once more, making it a poor choice for importers. As a Wifi-only device however, the G Pad might represent a good import option for those who find the Nexus 7 too small.
We’ll be following up with Sony and LG about a local release of these devices, but we wouldn’t suggest holding your breath. Hopefully the modding community manages to make the Google Play Edition ROMs available for owners of the original hardware worldwide.
Update 12/12 : LG has advised that it has no plans to bring the LG G Pad to Australia in the short term but haven’t closed the door to the option down the track, offering us this statement :
LG Australia considers all business opportunities with our partners, though at this stage have no plans to launch in Australia in the near future
Until then, enjoy these pictures of hardware you can’t order:
Are you interested in the new Google Play Edition versions of these devices? Let us know in the comments!