Farhad Manjoo, after trying the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, both with the default carrier software and their $600 “Pure Google” versions:
But you shouldn’t have to delete stuff just to get your phone
looking like you want it. Plus, I suspect that many users probably
don’t even know how to delete these apps, so they just sit
there, clogging up the home screen.
The worst thing about Android phones isn’t the crapware, though.
It’s the “skins” — the modifications that phone companies
make to Android’s most basic features, including the dialing
app, contacts, email, the calendar, the notification system, and
the layout of the home screen. If you get the Play edition of
these phones, you’ll see Google’s version of each of these
apps, and you’ll come away impressed by Google’s tasteful,
restrained, utilitarian design sense. But if, like most people,
you get your phone for $199 from a carrier, you’ll find
everything in it is a frightful mess.
In short, the best Android phones are ones that few people buy.