What Is Samsung's One UI for Android?

Learn about Samsung’s streamlined interface for Android

Samsung One UI replaces the Samsung Experience as the company's custom interface for Android. It's simplified, uncluttered, and designed to show only essential information and reduce distractions. Samsung's One UI user experience is especially helpful for larger screens and one-handed use, which makes sense, as the company popularized the phablet with its Note series.

The goal is to minimize the issues that come with being glued to our smartphone screens including joint pain and eye strain. The One UI custom skin started rolling out in early 2019 to the latest Galaxy smartphones.  

Ergonomics and Usability 

Our smartphones come with many side effects, including ergonomic issues like texting thumb and repetitive stress. One UI is designed 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.

Samsung splits the screen in many of its apps, such as Messages, putting content at the top of the screen, and buttons at the bottom within easy reach of your thumb. This way, people don't stretch their thumbs uncomfortably or shuffle the phone in their 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 much easier on the hands. 

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

One UI is also designed to be 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 of course, is another side-effect of our increased screen time. Thus One UI was designed with productivity in mind.

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

One element is called Focus Blocks, which groups together 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 "alarm in 8 hours" next to a woman in bed looking at her phone

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.

Samsung One UI Updates

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

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

Finally, there are 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.

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