Everything to know about the Android skin

Samsung One UI is a custom Android skin for Samsung smartphones and tablets. It is one of the most popular software skins, primarily due to the Korean tech giant being the second-best-selling smartphone brand in the world. If you own a midrange or flagship Samsung device like the recently released Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, you’ve likely used One UI. But what is it exactly, and how does it differ from stock Android? This article takes a closer look at One UI, how it has evolved, and why it’ll be sticking around for a long time.

Samsung One UI: A brief history

Samsung’s software has come a long way since the early TouchWiz and Samsung Experience days. The colorful TouchWiz was a mainstay for Samsung devices even before the company launched the first Galaxy S smartphone. It retained many of its pre-Android elements and was improved with subsequent updates. However, TouchWiz was criticized for its cluttered design and slow performance.

Samsung responded by overhauling the skin and making substantial changes to its UI with a more minimal approach. This birthed Samsung Experience. The new software also coincided with the launch of the Galaxy S8, with a taller display and no center button. Although Samsung Experience had a cleaner and more streamlined design than TouchWiz, it still suffered from bloating and stuttering.

In 2018, the company returned to the drawing board and developed One UI from scratch. It was a major departure from its predecessors, featuring a cleaner and more polished interface. With smartphones getting larger, the software paid particular attention to one-handed use, a design element Google only recently started introducing to the Pixel UI.

Since its debut, One UI has continued to evolve, with Samsung regularly updating the skin with new features and user interface improvements. However, like almost every software, One UI gets its fair share of bugs. But Samsung has shown that it listens to its customers and is committed to refining its user experience.

One UI 1.0

Samsung launched the first version of its new software skin, One UI 1.0, overlaid on top of Android 9 Pie, in November 2018. It was released to the Galaxy S8, Note 8, S9, and Note 9 as an update and came preinstalled on the Galaxy S10 series, Galaxy A series, and the OG Galaxy Fold as One UI 1.1.

Like Android 9, One UI introduced several features that were gaining popularity in the industry. For example, it came with dark mode, refined Always-On Display, introduced support for remapping the Bixby button, and gesture navigation.

It was followed by One UI 1.1, a minor update that optimized the cameras, performance, and fingerprint and facial recognition. Subsequently, Samsung released One UI 1.5. It was preinstalled on the Galaxy Note 10 to provide Link to Windows support following Samsung’s partnership with Microsoft.

One UI 2.0

Samsung launched the stable version of One UI 2.0 based on Android 10 on November 28, 2019. The software rolled out to the Galaxy S10, Galaxy Note 10, Galaxy Note 9, and Galaxy S9 series and came preinstalled on the Galaxy S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite. Incremental versions such as One UI 2.1 launched with the Samsung Galaxy S20 series, while One UI 2.5 came with the Galaxy Note 20, Galaxy Z Fold 2, and Galaxy S20 FE devices.

One UI 2.0 introduced enhanced Dark Mode, a built-in screen recorder, a Trash folder within the Files app, and Dynamic Lock screen, which changes your lock screen wallpaper every time you turn on your display. One UI 2.1 took things further with Quick Share and additional camera modes. One UI 2.5 wasn’t particularly feature-packed but introduced DeX, Samsung’s tool for mirroring your device on a PC or compatible TV.

One UI 3.0

Samsung launched the third generation of its custom skin, One UI 3.0 (based on Android 11), in December 2020. Galaxy S20 devices were the first to get it, with others following between January and August 2021. Meanwhile, new devices like the Galaxy S21 came preinstalled with a marginally updated One UI 3.1, and even 3.1.1 in the case of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3.

One UI 3.0 was the first Samsung skin to introduce a translucent notification panel and Samsung Free, the company’s version of Google Discover. It also improved the animations and transitions throughout the software and redesigned the homescreen widgets. One UI 3.1 had no notable UI changes but improved the camera touch autofocus and auto exposure controller, among other camera-specific additions.

One UI 4.0

One UI 4.0 based on Android 12 was released publicly in November 2021 and rolled out to the Galaxy S21 and several older devices between December 2021 and August 2022. Like Android 10, One UI 4.0 focused more on customization and privacy with improved haptic feedback, rounded widgets, and enhanced location features.

Preinstalled on the Samsung Galaxy S22, S22 Plus, S22 Ultra, and Galaxy Tab S8, One UI 4.1 introduced a redesigned palette picker, Night Mode portraits, and a smarter calendar that picks up dates and times in messages to add events quickly. In addition, the company released a target-geared One UI 4.1.1 based on Android 12L for the Galaxy Z Fold 4, Galaxy Z Flip 4, Galaxy Tab S6, Tab S7, and Tab S8 series.

One UI 5.0: The latest version of Samsung’s skin

Samsung publicly released One UI 5 based on Android 13 on October 24, 2022. The stable version of the software quickly arrived on the Samsung Galaxy S22, Galaxy S22 Plus, and Galaxy S22 Ultra and will roll out to other phones in the coming months. The Galaxy S21, Galaxy Note 20, Galaxy S20, Galaxy Tab S8 and S7, Galaxy Z Flip 4 and 3, and Galaxy Z Fold 4 and 3 are expected to get the update in November, while older phones will start getting it in December.

Samsung One UI 5 comes with deeper Material You integration allowing for color palette changes that apply to all aspects of the UI. There’s also a better theming engine with support for more colors, improved widget stacking, and the ability to add multiple users, including a guest profile, to your device (a feature Android has supported for ages). There are a couple more improvements, so check out what’s new in One UI 5.0.

While it’s not based on a new Android version, the recently-released One UI 5.1 is the latest version of Samsung’s software skin. It debuted on the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy Z Fold 4 as updates and launched with the new Galaxy S23 series out of the box. Although it seems like an incremental update, One UI 5.1 has several tricks, including a smarter gallery, a new battery widget, and expert RAW integration. Users are calling it the most buttery smooth version of Samsung’s skin ever. But there’s much more. Here’s every new feature we noticed in One UI 5.1.

Use your Samsung phone to the fullest

Most Android phones are comparable in hardware. They have similar chipsets, storage options, cameras, and more. What differentiates them is the software, with varying animation smoothness, customization options, and camera AI chops.

One UI brings a new user experience to Samsung Galaxy phones and adds diversity to the Android ecosystem as a whole. If your Samsung phone has been upgraded to the latest Android version or is eligible for the software update, take advantage of the new features by setting up a new homescreen and lock screen.

Conclusion on Everything to know about the Android skin

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