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The many flavors of Android: a look at the major Android skins – Android Authority

Android skins explained

The most effective issues about Android is how customizable it’s, letting customers take pleasure in an entire host of various flavors. Some choose their Android clear and stock-like. Others like telephone producers to provide you with their very own options and design tweaks. Whichever your choice, there’s doubtless an Android pores and skin on the market to match your fashion.

Nevertheless, you won’t all the time know exactly what you’re in for when choosing up a brand new Android system, in contrast to with, say, an iPhone. Simply what’s MIUI anyway? That will help you navigate the typically complicated Android pores and skin panorama, that is your one-stop information to Android pores and skin customizations.

Inventory Android/Pixel Android

Newest Model: (Pie)

Stock Android Skin

“Inventory Android” is, in fact, probably the most vanilla Android taste obtainable. That is the pure, out-the-box Android expertise with nothing piled on prime.

Many customers strongly advocate using as-stock-as-possible Android — it’s a significant factor for them when selecting between telephones. Such was the historic attraction of Nexus units (together with the low worth), and now the Pixel vary (in-spite of the worth).

Stock Android

Inventory Android definitely has lots going for it: nippy efficiency unhindered by bloat, comparatively small file measurement that leaves extra storage for the consumer, speedy updates, and the clear materials design aesthetic Google is understood for. Inventory Android supplies a clean slate, permitting customers to customise to their coronary heart’s content material.

That stated, some may discover inventory Android somewhat boring. Definitely, as a telephone reviewer, I’m all the time desperate to see what new tips every handset has to supply — and discovering a totally generic expertise ready could be a little anticlimactic. Fortuitously, Android is not any slouch in terms of options in itself, and the typical consumer will discover greater than sufficient to mess around with. It’s additionally very straightforward to customise, with infinite third social gathering apps out there by way of the Play Retailer.

Android Skins

Samsung Expertise (see under) vs Inventory Android

The Google Pixel collection might be one of many closest to true inventory you’ll discover, straight from the Mothership. Even then, there are added customization right here such because the Pixel Launcher (although clearly that may be swapped out). You can argue no telephone really runs a purely inventory model of Android, however that is the closest you’ll get, anyway. Fortuitously, the subsequent choice on this record supplies primarily the identical advantages and a wider choice of units.

The way it compares: Inventory Android is what lies beneath any Android pores and skin. The nearer the gadget is to operating inventory, the extra ‘uncooked’ the expertise shall be. Although that does come on the expense of distinctive gimmicks and options. Whether or not something is actually inventory is up for debate, however through the use of a Pixel telephone or Android One (under), you’ll be getting one thing extraordinarily shut.


Greatest for: Minimal bloat, speedy updates, safety.

Worst for: Originality and thrilling new options.

Most fascinating options: All of the options you think about commonplace in an Android telephone are inventory options. If we’re speaking concerning the Pixel Android, you additionally get fascinating issues like deeper Assistant integration.

Android One

Android One Skin

Android One is nearly inventory, and comes with set standards mandated by Google for OEMs to comply with to qualify for this system. This can be a model of Android with minimal bloatware and a dedication to speedy updates, together with a minimal variety of safety updates.

Nokia makes use of Android One, and it’s undoubtedly to the OEM’s credit score. Whereas it won’t be terribly thrilling, Android One ensures much less highly effective hardware stays nippy and provides customers the peace of thoughts they’ll get to pattern the newest variations of Android in a well timed method.

Motorola additionally flies the Android One flag and demonstrates it’s attainable so as to add fascinating customizations like “Moto Actions” and funky digital camera options on prime of the Android One expertise. You may alternatively go together with the Xiaomi Mi A1.

Android Go Skin

Particular point out goes to Android Go, which isn’t an Android pores and skin, however moderately a special model of Android altogether, designed to run nicely on entry-level units with simply 512MB-1GB of RAM and Eight-16GB of storage. It’s considerably smaller than full Android to that finish, however will solely run a choice of pared-down apps.


The way it compares: Android One is a light-weight and quickly up to date model of Android that ought to be quick and secure on any system. Android One in itself could be very vanilla — identical to Pixel’s take — however as corporations like Motorola present, it’s potential so as to add fascinating customization and options on prime.

Greatest for: Minimal bloat, speedy updates.

Worst for: Originality and thrilling new options.

Most fascinating options: The options listed here are usually the identical as inventory, and may embrace issues like Google Lens.


Newest model:

OyxgenOS Android Skin

OxygenOS can also be very near inventory. That is OnePlus’ Android pores and skin and it’s largely unchanged, with a handful of thoughtfully designed further options like helpful gestures, an app locker for data-sensitive apps, and parallel apps for customers with a number of social media accounts.

Android Skins vs

Samsung Expertise vs OxygenOS

OxygenOS followers see it as the perfect compromise between the clear interface of inventory Android and the distinctive performance of a extra unique Android pores and skin. As with inventory Android and Android One, Oxygen OS is an enormous draw for a few of OnePlus’ followers.


The way it compares: OxygenOS is extraordinarily near a inventory expertise, which is definitely one among its promoting factors.  The closest comparability can be with Android One, which will get marginally quicker updates however doesn’t have fairly as customizable navigation choices. We might additionally draw comparisons with HTC Sense, which is near inventory however has a lot of customization choices, particularly aesthetic ones.

Greatest for: Minimal bloat, dependable, speedy updates, nice customization.

Worst for: OnePlus doesn’t have fairly the smorgasbord of options as in contrast with one thing like Samsung Expertise or EMUI, and it’s not fairly as fast to replace as One/inventory.

Most fascinating options: 

  • Gestures – For navigating with out using on-screen buttons.
  • App locker – For apps that you simply need to hold personal.
  • Customization – Plenty of choices to make the expertise your personal.

Samsung Expertise

Newest model: 9.5

Samsung Experience Android Skin

Samsung Expertise is a rebrand of TouchWiz, possible a response to backlash over the very divisive aesthetic modifications and heavy bloat typically related to the platform.

Samsung’s strategy till current years was very a lot “throw the whole lot on the wall and see what sticks.” Previous variations of TouchWiz got here with every thing (relying on the telephone) from gaze-controlled scrolling on webpages, to multi-window multitasking earlier than Android did it natively, and a quasi-authentic desktop PC-like expertise referred to as Dex. Sadly, all this additional stuff additionally launched lag to units that basically ought to have been blazingly fast given their hardware.

Worse is that Samsung units would typically decelerate over time. Battery life additionally suffered, as did inner storage. The latter is especially egregious given the variety of apps that merely duplicated Google’s personal apps with out including something helpful. Notably as you possibly can’t take away them.

Samsung Experience vs Stock Android App Drawer

Over time, the Samsung Expertise has turn into rather less excessive and the aesthetics have definitely improved after the introduction of Grace UX on the Observe 7. It’s very straightforward to customise, with its highly effective theme app.

Lots of what Samsung piles into its UI can also be very helpful, particularly on units just like the Notice telephones. These reap the benefits of customized hardware via the power to pick and seize textual content from pictures, and to regulate media playback remotely with the S-Pen. Different nice options embrace the always-on show, recreation launcher, and extra. There’s a lot right here, it’s very straightforward to personal a Samsung system for years and never understand half of what it may do.

Samsung Experience S-Pen

That additionally means the UI continues to be a bit extra bloated. Samsung continues to be as much as its previous tips in some methods, even forcing us to make use of devoted hardware keys for apps we don’t essentially need (Bixby). Extra lately Samsung got here beneath hearth for making it unattainable to take away the massive and battery-hungry Fb app (although it may be disabled). Updates to the newest variations of Android are usually fairly sluggish too.

Finally, Samsung units are so widespread nowadays that for many individuals, that is Android. These individuals are little question used to its quirks.


The way it compares: Samsung Expertise is a totally totally different kettle of fish as in contrast with the earlier choices on this record. That is Android with heavy customization, for higher or for worse. The closest comparability is probably going Huawei’s EMUI which packs in the whole lot however the kitchen sink. Whereas Samsung provides us much more bloat, it has develop into extra restrained in its design sensibilities — whereas Huawei nonetheless has a bit to study on this regard.

Greatest for: Cool options and issues to do — you possibly can personal a Samsung gadget for months and nonetheless uncover new issues.

Worst for: Bloat and decelerate. Samsung actually continues to be the worst for these offenses, with numerous duplicate apps, undesirable options (Bixby), and aesthetic modifications. Prime-end Samsung units sometimes mitigate efficiency points with highly effective hardware. Updates are additionally very sluggish.

Most fascinating options: Samsung Expertise brings a ton of fascinating options:

  • Sensible choose – Choose parts out of your display to save lots of, extract textual content.
  • All the time-on show – Present the time and choose notifications when the gadget is off.
  • DEX – PC mode when plugged into an exterior show.
  • Edge lighting – For infinity shows, exhibits notifications and extra by lighting up the edges of the display.
  • Edge panel – Fast entry to apps and contacts with a swipe.
  • Bixby – Samsung’s new AI assistant.

There are additionally hardware-dependent options current on many units, such because the cool S-Pen options for the Word line, the Well being app which makes use of the guts fee monitor, and extra.

Samsung One UI

To not be confused with Android One, Samsung One UI is one other overhaul for Samsung’s pores and skin. The strategy doubles down on Samsung’s newer philosophy, and it’s extra streamlined, scaled again, and targeted. It’s Samsung with restraint.

Android One Android Skin

On the entire, this appears to hit the mark. The aesthetic is spherical, flat, and easy all through, and every part appears speedy. New animations look nice, and there are a number of latest options akin to a “darkish mode” for straightforward viewing in daylight, gesture help (lastly), and a number of latest tips for Bixby. A few of the new icons could also be a bit of divisive, although.

General Samsung’s One UI is a serious step in the suitable course and the de facto expertise for newer Samsung units just like the Galaxy S10 household.


The way it compares: For probably the most half, One UI is the Samsung Expertise you recognize and love (or hate). It feels a bit of slicker and polished, however it’s nonetheless a great distance from inventory, and it at present lacks help for a few of Samsung’s themes. It’s one to observe, definitely.

Greatest for: Samsung ranges of options, however with rather less slow-down and bloat.

Worst for: As a comparatively unknown amount, it stays to be seen how this pores and skin will carry out over time.

Most fascinating options: One UI comes with a lot of the options you’re conversant in from Samsung Expertise, plus these:

  • Gesture navigation – Like many different skins, One UI now allows you to navigate with out using the on-screen buttons.
  • Adoptable storage – Turns your SD card into an extension of your telephone’s inner reminiscence for all extents and functions.
  • Darkish mode – Darkish theme.
  • Raise to wake – Carry the telephone for it to return to life.


Newest model:

EMUI Android Skin

EMUI is brief for “Emotion UI,” and is the UI discovered on Huawei and Honor telephones. What emotion you’ll really feel possible is determined by how a lot you want huge colourful icons and considerably garish menus.

EMUI makes itself recognized moderately than sinking into the background, which is all the time going to be divisive. Aside from the fairly daring aesthetic modifications, which may be virtually totally eliminated with customizations, the OS introduces some useful options. A variety of background optimization is carried out by the AI, which frees up RAM and boosts longevity. Sensible Ideas are additionally helpful for determining the easiest way to make use of your telephone. Sensible Cut up Display is definitely sensible, and there’s even a PC mode. In some methods, it appears that evidently Huawei is making an attempt to out-Samsung Samsung.

EMUI Settings

Some individuals like EMUI, however it’s one of many extra controversial choices and is one thing to remember when contemplating a telephone from this producer. Some individuals may additionally be put-off by the accusations of safety threats, although the precise nature of those accusations stays just a little cloudy to say the least.


The way it compares: Just like Samsung Expertise in that it’s a pores and skin that you’ll know you’re utilizing. The aesthetic modifications right here could be thought-about ostentatious and positively divisive. Additionally like Samsung, EMUI brings some genuinely cool options.

Greatest for: RAM administration, AI options.

Worst for: Arguably this can be a contender for worst UI design. There are at present privateness considerations surrounding its use. And it typically appears that the bloat has a damaging impression on efficiency. Updates not the quickest. It’s additionally very comparable trying to iOS, which might be a flip off for some.

Most fascinating options: 

  • AI-based reminiscence administration – Learns how you employ your system then optimizes reminiscence administration.
  • Sensible cut up display – Extra simply entry a second app to make use of concurrently with out dismissing your present one.
  • PC mode – Plug into an exterior show for a desktop-like expertise.


Newest model: 10

MIUI Android Skin

I all the time discovered it complicated that there was an “EMUI” and a “MIUI.” MIUI is pronounced “Me UI” (or me, you, I) and ships with Xiaomi units (together with the Pocophone F1).

MIUI truly started as a customized ROM. It was Xiaomi’s first creation when it was a small software program firm again in April 2010. On the time, the target was to offer further performance lacking from inventory Android, resembling cloud backups, whereas preserving the interface comparatively easy. This ROM ultimately led to the corporate’s first foray into the hardware market with the Mi One in 2011.

Early variations of MIUI have been in comparison with iOS, partly for its aesthetics, and partly because of the omission of an software drawer, which pressured customers to maintain all of their apps on horizontally scrolling residence web page screens. This rubbed some Android customers the mistaken means, however fortunately newer variations have included the choice to reinstate the drawer via the menu (or simply change out the launcher solely).


There are undoubtedly some welcome options that come included with MIUI, similar to Mi Drop for transferring information, theming, and gestures. A lot of the bloatware that’s right here (together with a customized MIUI retailer) can fortunately be eliminated as nicely.

Newer variations are shut sufficient to inventory to be comparatively inoffensive, although the variations to parts just like the notification tray are fairly noticeable. Your mileage might differ, and there are some less-than-ideal design selections right here: the current menu looks like an pointless change, and cut up display multitasking can also be slightly extra difficult and probably much less speedy and intuitive. Then there was the current, considerably suspect determination to put promoting inside the UI. Basically the UI is sort of iOS-like, which is off-putting for some.


The way it compares: MIUI ‘s closest relative is probably ColorOS. Like that pores and skin, MIUI falls someplace between the likes of OxygenOS and Samsung Expertise within the quantity of options and bloat. The design modifications are additionally fairly noticeable and iOS-centric.

Greatest for: MIUI is an effective choice for theming and runs properly on much less highly effective hardware. Bloatware is detachable — hooray!

Worst for: Pointless modifications to navigation and options like multitasking, which could be irritating should you’re used to a extra stock-like expertise. iOS-inspired design is an acquired style. Probably promoting.

Most fascinating options: 

  • Mi Drop – Simply switch giant information between units.
  • MIUI retailer – Entry a lot of unique apps.
  • Theming – Plenty of customization choices.


Newest model: 5.2

ColorOS Android Skin

ColorOS is the Android pores and skin discovered on OPPO telephones and it’s a noticeable departure from inventory with its personal execs and cons.

There are some quirks right here that may be a nuisance for these conversant in inventory Android: such because the notifications that must be swiped sideways to dismiss, and the fairly unintuitive settings menus (simply attempt altering the default launcher and also you’ll see what I imply). Like MIUI, it additionally makes use of a wierd various recents and multitasking menu. The Sensible Bar for fast app switching truly is pretty neat however. On the entire, the feel and appear of ColorOS will convey followers and detractors — it finally comes down to non-public choice.


The way it compares: ColorOS has a unique historical past however is analogous in some ways to MIUI: it has a considerably iOS-inspired look, it modifications navigation parts and options resembling multitasking, and it has some fascinating options.

Greatest for: That is one other pores and skin discovered on much less highly effective hardware and it really works nicely in that setting.

Worst for: Navigation and utilizing options may be irritating with pointless steps.

Most fascinating options: The Sensible Bar is cool, however there isn’t a lot else to it.

HTC Sense

Newest model: 10

HTC Sense Android Skin

No prizes for guessing which smartphone producer owns HTC Sense!

HTC Sense is comparatively inventory, however the Android pores and skin comes with a feed (BlinkFeed), a customized AI (the HTC Sense Companion), and a theming engine. The theming engine is especially complete: permitting you so as to add distinctive sounds, fonts, and even residence display stickers that act as shortcuts in “Freestyle Mode.” Some units have hardware particular options too, resembling Edge Sense. There’s additionally Undertaking Treble help, which ought to imply speedy updates.

Finally, this can be a good compromise between inventory and customized — supplying you with a reasonably vanilla taste out of the field, however with the facility to personalize in the event you so want. Even BlinkFeed might be turned off.

You can exchange this with your personal customized ROM, however HTC would argue that is unnecessary.

I’m right here all night time.


The way it compares: HTC Sense is considerably just like Oxygen OS, in that stays pretty near inventory. It also needs to obtain speedy updates because of Challenge Treble.

Greatest for: Minimal bloat, velocity, customization, speedy updates.

Worst for: Thrilling options are considerably scarce.

Most fascinating options:

  • Customization – HTC Sense allows you to customise every thing out of your fonts to your sounds, and has a really artistic “Freestyle mode” for its launcher.
  • Edge sense – Sure hardware permits you to assign actions to a squeeze of your gadget.
  • HTC Sense Companion – A singular AI assistant.

Sony Xperia UI

Sony Xperia UI Android Skin

Sony’s Xperia UI a comparatively stock-like Android pores and skin (increasingly more producers appear to be heading this manner), with some design tweaks and additional options like a stamina mode for extending the battery life. The UI and design modifications are pretty restrained (ignoring the customized launcher), primarily affecting issues just like the recents menu — it solely takes up a portion of the display — and the lock display. The colour scheme is somewhat darker. It’s nearer to the Holo schemes of previous than flatter, iOS-inspired choices like ColorOS.


The way it compares: Like OxygenOS or HTC Sense, Sony’s Xperia UI is actually a barely tweaked model of inventory. The expertise feels rather less vanilla right here, because of the extra noticeable UI variations.

Greatest for: A barely totally different feel and appear.

Worst for: Once more, fascinating modifications are scant.

Most fascinating options: Stamina mode is a very efficient battery-saving mode.


Zen UI Android Skin

ZenUI is Asus’ Android pores and skin, so it’s not one thing lots of people have used. The design is definitely fairly good and clear, however there aren’t a ton of notable options aside from a chat app referred to as Omelet and a reasonably helpful “do it later” device.


Newest model:

LG UX Android Skin

I used to like LG UX as a result of it was referred to as Optimus UI. Regardless of the far much less thrilling identify although, this Android Pores and skin continues to be a reasonably inoffensive choice that brings a near-stock aesthetic with fingerprint sensor shortcuts and extra gesture controls. Not one million miles from one thing like Oxygen OS or HTC Sense.

A useful reference desk

Identify Model Units Key Options Design Negatives
Inventory Android Android Pie Pixel Telephones Clear, quick, first to get updates, consists of all of Google’s providers and apps Clear materials design aesthetic Might be thought-about uninteresting, Materials Design to not everybody’s tastes
Android One Nokia Units, Motorola Units, Xiaomi Mi A1, Some HTC Clear, quick, assured updates, bloat free, might have some OEM-added options Clear materials design aesthetic Might be thought-about uninteresting, Materials Design to not everybody’s tastes
OxygenOS Oxygen OS OnePlus Units Parallel apps, gesture controls, app locker Just like inventory Could possibly be thought-about uninteresting, Materials Design to not everybody’s tastes
Samsung Expertise (Previously TouchWiz) Samsung Expertise 9.5 Samsung Units Themes, Bixby, Dex (PC Mode), Samsung Well being, Edge UX, All the time On Show, straightforward modifying for display photographs, S-Pen (Word) Grace UX makes use of a lot of unfavorable area, very customizable Considerably bloated, sluggish to obtain updates, bloatware and duplicate apps
EMUI EMUI Huawei and Honor Telephones AI options, sensible RAM administration, navigation dock, sensible cut up display, sensible ideas, PC mode iOS-like UI modifications in locations, customizable, mild settings menu UI modifications divisive, some bloatware
MIUI MIUI 10 Xiaomi Units (inc. Pocophone) Mi Drop, themes, gestures, quantity slider iOS-like UI modifications in locations, customizable, modifications to notification tray, settings and so on. Unintuitive multitasking, divisive design modifications, promoting
ColorOS ColorOS 5.2 OPPO Telephones Sensible Bar, theming, gestures, safety middle Customizable, modifications to notification tray, settings and so on. Considerably fiddly settings menu, different modifications to UI
HTC Sense HTC Sense 10 HTC Units Extremely customizable, BlinkFeed, HTC Sense Companion, Freestyle Mode, Venture Treble Largely stock-like, sq., extremely customizable Might argue Android One can be higher – seeing as there isn’t rather a lot right here that’s distinctive
Sony Xperia UI Sony Units Samina mode, some helpful built-in apps Largely inventory, customized launcher and some different minor tweaks As above
Zen UI Asus Telephones Omelet chat, ‘do it later’ function Fairly clear, a lot of gray As above
LG UX LG UX LG Telephones Fingerprint sensor shortcuts, gesture management Pretty inventory, provides some transparency As above

So, which Android pores and skin is greatest?

Now you might have a reasonably good concept of the totally different Android skins and their options, so which one is best for you?

We will do although, is to broadly divide the skins into two camps: those near inventory, and people who make an enormous mark and convey numerous further options. Within the first camp, you’ve gotten inventory and Pixel Android, Android Go, OxygenOS, HTC Sense, LG UX, and Sony’s Xperia UI. Samsung Xperience, EMUI, MIUI, and Shade OS are all on the top of the spectrum. In case you decide a near-stock Android expertise, you already know what you’re getting and shouldn’t be in for any large surprises — it’s only a matter of in search of the additional options that attraction to you.

Android versions

Should you decide one thing with extra UI modifications and options, ensure the additions are well worth the compromised replace schedules and efficiency. Many individuals are prepared to miss a number of Samsung’s faults as a result of its options are genuinely cool and the UI is inoffensive. We’re extra on the fence in relation to EMUI, MIUI, and ColorOS, although.

Does it even matter?

Most individuals might be extra swayed by hardware than software program when selecting their subsequent smartphone, which finally takes the selection away from you. In case you just like the Pocophone F1 due to its worth and efficiency, you’re getting MIUI and that’s that!


Numerous the customizations you affiliate with an Android pores and skin may also be eliminated. For those who don’t like the house display, then you possibly can simply swap that out for Nova launcher or one other various. Icons could be modified with icon packs, and in some instances the bloatware might be deleted.

It’s debatable what ought to even be thought-about a pores and skin anymore. What’s inventory Android, when the Pixel and Android Go each supply totally different experiences?  If we contemplate the launcher a part of the pores and skin, what concerning the digital camera app? How concerning the pre-loaded apps? It’s typically higher to guage every gadget by itself deserves, and solely use what you already find out about a pores and skin as a information.

Some skins are somewhat slower or lacking options you want — and there’s not a lot you are able to do concerning the settings menu — however usually the variations are largely beauty and detachable.

Closing feedback

When selecting an Android pores and skin, it’s essential to think about its look and options, and even whether or not it should get updates promptly earlier than, making a choice. Heck, the OS might not even be obtainable in your chosen system.

Android One Nokia

The wonderful thing about Android is you’ll be able to nonetheless customise almost every little thing to get it simply how you want, no matter your selection.

Which is your favourite Android pores and skin?

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