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I recently bought a Samsung Galaxy S4 and the OS that came with it has many problems IMO. It feels equivalent to the bloated Windows install that would come on my Dell PCs in the 90's, so I'd like to re-install a "clean" version of Android.

Does such a thing exist?

Is it the case that there is a "clean" Android with a basic UI, Apps container, wifi functionality etc. from which most other distributions extend? Or do I have to search all the various ROM forums and try different ROMs out (hopefully I'm using the right terminology here) until I find one that I like?

I want something as close to iOS features as possible - just a sticky list of apps at the bottom of my screen, app groups, minimal number of pre-installed apps to name the main features I'm hoping for.

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  • You will have to check with Where can I find stock or custom ROMs for my Android device? ROMs are always device-specific, due to "proprietary hardware components" requiring special driver adaption. – Izzy Jan 20 '14 at 7:16
  • I should down-vote, just because you said you want something more like iOS ;-). Android is great (I know you didn't mean it that way). You are in luck for your device, and the standard Android will be great for you. – Booger Jan 20 '14 at 13:01
  • if you want an iOS kind of feel (or a good approximation), you can try some custom launchers and themes found in the google Play store. If you're looking for a clean "android" with a nice list of extra feature then let me recommend you AOKP first and CyanogenMod second. – svarog Jan 20 '14 at 17:02
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Unfortunately there is no "base" install for Android phones in general, as pretty much every carrier and manufacturer except Google customize stock Android for their phones. As someone else mentioned, CyanogenMod is the closest you're likely to get to such.

That being said, the easiest way to ditch bloatware is to use an app like Titanium BackUp to "freeze" the app. This prevents it from running and from appearing in the app drawer. The good part about this is that it ensures that you can receive future updates from your carrier/manufacturer, as changing ROMs (or deleting bloatware installed as system apps) will cause future updates to fail.

If you want to reclaim internal SD card space, you can do a backup of the app first so that you can restore it later if/when you need to update the system.

You'll need to root/jailbreak your phone in order to use TiBU's freeze feature, but if you're thinking about installing a different ROM this shouldn't be an issue.

There are free solutions for freezing, deleting and backing up apps as well, but TiBU is a darn good app and worth a few bucks (tho the UI can be a bit confusing for some)

If you want to get into heavy customization of phone system features, your best bet is probably Xposed, a framework for installing addons to expose and control Android features. It can be wonky with TouchWiz, tho, which most Samsung phones have on them.

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You should try out http://www.cyanogenmod.org/, they have a version of their ROM for pretty much every major device out there. They try to stick to the AOSP (Stock/Vanilla) Android as much as possible. If you use a stable version or a mile-release you'll probably never have any problem with it. If you want the latest features, you can use the nightlies, but they might have some bugs from time to time.

On my Galaxy S3 I've got a Android 4.4.2 ROM that is based on cyanogenmod source with some added components. While the stock Galaxy S3 OS is not even on Android 4.3 yet.

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There are Custom ROM's available in this site http://forum.xda-developers.com/galaxy-s4 . In custom ROM's OS will be clean and even you can remove unwanted Apps.

For installing custom ROM's, you have to root your phone. Your phone warranty become void when you do this. Please read the T&C from their sites.

There are so many developers working for custom ROM's. Read the forum carefully before doing this.

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In your case, because there was a Developer Version of the phone (maybe called Play or Google edition) there likely is a clean version of Android, with just the 'Pure' Google Android experience available. Check the the XDA forum where you will likely find a ROM.

Otherwise, here is a promising link: http://www.technobuffalo.com/videos/how-to-turn-a-galaxy-s4-into-a-google-edition-phone/

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