What Is Samsung's One UI for Android?

Learn about Samsung's streamlined interface for Android

Samsung One UI is the company's simplified and uncluttered custom interface for Android. The One UI user experience is beneficial for larger screens and one-handed use, which makes sense, as the company popularized the phablet with its Note series.

One UI started rolling out in early 2019 to Galaxy smartphones. It replaced Samsung Experience.

Samsung One UI Versions

Samsung regularly updates its One UI operating system. The latest version is 4.1, which launched in February 2022. One UI 5 will likely roll out alongside Android 13.

One UI 4.0 and 4.1

One UI 4.0 added several usability improvements, including haptic feedback and rounded widgets. It also added enhanced privacy features related to location data.

Samsung followed this with minor updates in version 4.1. Building on the usability theme, it added widget stacks, in a nod to the popular iPhone feature.

Samsung Pay can now store your license, along with other personal details and identity-related items such as boarding passes.

The Calendar app got smarter and more tightly integrated into the phone's operating system and apps. For example, it picks up the date and time in messages so you can add events to the Calendar swiftly and conveniently.

In the camera, the Night Mode feature became available for Portrait orientation.

One UI 3 and 3.1

Samsung began rolling out One UI 3 in December 2020. The new interface featured a few design upgrades, including a streamlined notification shade, more straightforward alerts, redesigned widgets for the home screen, a new aggregator screen called Samsung Free, and some changes to the lock screen.

The One UI 3.1 update added new camera features such as the option to save photos in multiple formats simultaneously, an object eraser tool, and enhanced autofocus. Other new features included multi-mic recording and Auto Switch, which automatically syncs your music when you switch Galaxy devices.

One UI 2 and 2.5

In February 2020, Samsung released One UI 2, which added several features, including an enhanced Dark Mode, a screen recorder, and a few interface changes. One UI 2 also benefited from many of the enhancements offered in Android 10. The following September, Samsung released One UI 2.5.

The screen recorder captures what's happening on the screen. It also captures sounds picked up by the microphone and audio playing on the phone. There's an option to add a video selfie feed and to doodle on the screen while recording.

Samsung added two options for displaying notifications of incoming calls: a full-screen alert (as on stock Android) or a floating pop-up, so you're not interrupted while playing a game or watching a video.

Ergonomics and Usability

Smartphones come with many side effects, including ergonomic issues like texting thumb and repetitive stress. Samsung designed One UI to alleviate repetitive stress, as many people use (or try to use) their phones with one hand, which can get dicey.

Web page that says "interact naturally" with a hand holding a smartphone next to it.

Split-Screen Apps

Samsung splits the screen in many of its apps like Messages, putting content at the top and buttons within easy reach of your thumb. This way, you won't stretch your thumbs uncomfortably or shuffle the phone in your hand, which can result in dropping it and cracking the screen.

The Clock app, for example, shows how long it will be before the next alarm goes off, while you can manage your alarms with controls at the bottom. Also, in the viewing area at the top, you'll see larger text. For big phones like the Galaxy Note 9, this layout is easier on the hands.

This split-screen approach also works well with the company's foldable phones, with actionable items on one side and view-only content on the other.

Alleviating Eye Strain

One UI is also more comfortable on the eyes, with vivid colors and a rounded design for app icons and other elements.

Productivity and Focus

Another goal for Samsung was reducing distractions, which is another side-effect of increased screen time. Thus, Samsung had productivity in mind when designing One UI.

One element is called Focus Blocks, which groups related settings, for example, to make it easier and faster to navigate. In the Gallery app, this translates to larger album thumbnails.

Web page that says "focus on the task at hand" with sample phone screens

One UI also has a dark mode that's consistent across apps, so you're not kept awake by the phone's brightly lit screen. Samsung's do not disturb mode is another way to stay focused.

Web page that says "alarm in 8 hours" next to a peerson in bed looking at a phone
Was this page helpful?