One UI guide: Everything you need to know

One UI 3.0 has the home screen.

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Samsung is the world’s most popular smartphone provider. Hence, there are many people with Samsung devices. If you are one of them, you already know One UI – the software that powers your Android phone or tablet.

See also: The Best Samsung Phones You Can Buy Right Now

In the following article we give you a crash course on Samsung’s Android skin. This should be a great introduction for those new to the Samsung phones world. But there might also be some cool information here for long-time Samsung fans.

Publisher’s Note: This article was updated in August 2021. We will add / remove content as soon as Samsung releases more information on its Android skin.

One user interface at a glance

Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus One user interface

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Samsung first presented the One UI at its annual developer conference at the end of 2018. Shortly thereafter, the company launched a beta program for existing Samsung devices. The first brand new series of smartphones to hit the market with the skin installed was the Samsung Galaxy S10 family, which landed in March 2019.

One UI receives a new numbered version every year. Samsung will usually launch dot versions with minor updates later this year. One example of this is One UI 2.5, which came onto the market with the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 series and brought new photography, stability and gesture functions with it.

See also: What is android

Compared to other Android skins, Samsung takes a “kitchen sink” approach with One UI. The skin contains all kinds of features that allow users to set their phone to behave as best it can. The downside of this is of course a significant “feature creep” where a flurry of features is actually more confusing to the user.

Regardless, One UI is one of the most popular and best-received Android skins out there. Its stability, the abundance of functions and the uniformity on all devices have helped Samsung maintain its status as the reigning smartphone king.

The latest version of One UI

One UI 3.0 offers AOD options

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Samsung ships a new numbered version of its Android skin every year. In 2018 it was One UI 1.0. In 2019 we saw the introduction of 2.0. We saw version 3.0 in 2020 and are now preparing for One UI 4.0 to hit the market sometime in 2021.

The latest stable version of the skin is One UI 3.1. This was first brought to market with the Samsung Galaxy S21 series. Since then, it has made its way to many other Samsung devices, including older flagships, mid-rangers, and more.

It is possible that we will see a new dot version of the skin before we see the stable launch of version 4.0. If so, it would likely end up in the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, which launches on August 11th.

So check your version and for updates

Settings page of a Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra with the One UI 2.5 software version

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

If you don’t know what version of One UI is on your Samsung device, it’s easy to check. Here are the steps:

  1. Go to Settings by tapping the icon in your app drawer or the gear icon on your notification shade.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the list and tap on “About Phone”.
  3. Then tap on “Software Information”.
  4. The very first listing at the top of this page tells you which version of One UI you are using.

If you’re using an older version of One UI, there is a chance that an update is waiting for you. You can check for software updates using the following steps:

  1. Go to Settings by tapping the icon in your app drawer or the gear icon on your notification shade.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the list and tap Software Update.
  3. Click Download and Install on this page.
  4. Your phone will check for updates and instruct you how to install them.

If your software is up to date but you don’t have the latest version of One UI, it means your phone hasn’t received the update yet. It is also possible that your phone is too old to receive new updates.

A brief history of One UI

Galaxy Touchwiz in hand on a Samsung phone screen.

As mentioned earlier, Samsung launched One UI in 2018. However, the company had previously released many smartphones. These earlier Samsung phones had different Android skins.

The first skin from Samsung was called TouchWiz. It lasted from the beginnings of Android smartphones to 2016 and Android 6 Marshmallow. TouchWiz was colorful and cartoonish – and not the most popular skin out there.

Samsung’s first skin was called TouchWiz. From this, Samsung Experience developed, which then became One UI.

It was a relief when Samsung launched its next skin known as the Samsung Experience. That landed in 2016 and first arrived on devices running Android 7 Nougat. The experience was much more refined than TouchWiz and had a sleek and simplified user interface.

Finally, a user interface took over the general appearance of Experience and further optimized it. It’s possible that Samsung could replace One UI with a different skin in the future, but at the moment the response to the software has been positive and we don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon.

This is what a user interface looks like

Here is a gallery of screenshots that should give you an idea of ​​what to expect from One UI.

The top 5 unique features of One UI

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G display

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Every Android skin out there puts its own stamp on the software. Here are five things one UI can do that most other skins can’t.

Theming

Samsung integrates many theme and customization options into One UI. There is a whole store where you can buy or get themes for free. You can install custom always-on display widgets and themes, and easily change fonts, icons, and more. If you want your Android phone to have a specific look, Samsung has got you covered with the tools you need.

Dex

A modern flagship phone is as powerful as some laptops. Why can’t you use your phone as one? That’s exactly what Samsung’s Dex mode does. Simply connect your phone to a monitor, mouse and keyboard, wired or wirelessly, and your phone becomes a computer. Dex looks very much like Windows and will launch all of your favorite mobile apps and games. Unfortunately, Dex only ships with certain high-end Samsung devices.

Customization of the side buttons

Samsung calls the power button the side button. You can choose to have this key do all sorts of things, which is why Samsung doesn’t like to refer to it as a power button. You can use the side button to launch Samsung’s AI assistant Bixby, double-tap to launch the camera, and more. There’s even a third-party app that you can use to further customize the key.

Edge panel

You are probably already used to using navigation gestures on the bottom of your phone. However, on some Samsung devices, you can swipe in from the top of the display and access the edge panel. This is essentially a multi-function widget that you can use to launch apps, tools, news, or other shortcuts. Power users are big fans of this feature.

Galaxy shop

After all, one of the most unique aspects of Samsung phones is the Galaxy Store. This storefront works the same as the Google Play Store, but it contains apps and games that you can’t find there. In particular, the Galaxy Store carries Fortnite, which no longer appears in the Play Store.


That’s all you need to know about Samsung’s One UI! Make sure to bookmark this page as we will update it if Samsung changes the Android skin.

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