We’ve been in this business for long enough to remember when Samsung’s custom Android skin left a lot to be desired. It was unnecessarily bloated with features that most users wouldn’t even try for the sake of novelty. Even the visual elements were far from the sleek and modern UI we know today.
From TouchWiz to Samsung Experience, there was a lot in them that was broken and needed fixing. All of that changed when the first iteration of One UI was released with Android 9 Pie. This was the first major overhaul of Samsung’s custom skin in years.
One UI was built from the ground up to help users focus on things that really matter. Samsung wanted to achieve harmony between its hardware and software. As its devices got bigger, it wanted to make one-handed use easier.
The first One UI version achieved all of that. Samsung continued to refine this formula with every subsequent iteration. In the years that followed, it became more about refining the software instead of introducing new features just for the heck of it.
One UI 3.0 was the perfect representation of the new direction Samsung was taking with its custom skin. Light on big-ticket items, One UI 3.0 overhauled the look and feel of the software. Samsung made a conscious effort to make the entire UI look more clean and sleek.
The incremental updates released thereafter have introduced minor feature additions but major new features have been few and far between. What Samsung is doing instead is making existing features better and working on making its UI more aesthetically pleasing.
So it didn’t really surprise us to see that One UI 4.0 was lacking major new features as well. While you could be forgiven for expecting that a major One UI release would include big-ticket items, Samsung is now taking a different approach.
The company launched the One UI 4.0 Android 12 beta program today. The full changelog and our One UI 4.0 vs One UI 3.1 comparison reveals little in the way of new features. Refinement seems to be the objective of this release.
The feedback we’ve seen from a lot of Samsung fans has been one of disappointment. It’s as if they wanted the company to bring major new features. One UI 4.0 hasn’t met their expectations because it’s a little light on those.
Samsung has approached One UI 4.0 with a different mindset. There’s not much that was broken on the versions that it succeeds. Each One UI iteration has been consistently better than the one before it.
That’s especially true when you consider the fact that Android 12, the major OS upgrade that’s the bedrock of One UI 4.0, introduces new features that One UI has had for a couple of years now. It’s as if Google’s trying to play catch up with Samsung’s software and not the other way around.
What fans need to realize now is that Samsung can’t go back to its old ways of stuffing its software with features that don’t really achieve much. It can’t go back to bloating the software just for the sake of having a big list of new features to boast about. We do believe that to be the right decision.
Refinement is the name of the game. There’s always room for refinement. The more Samsung can improve its existing functionality and add value, the better its devices are going to be. It could also deliver further improvements in terms of speed and performance.
Less really is more these days. We want our phones to be nimble and cater to increasingly complex workloads. There’s no need for Samsung to change much on One UI as it’s basically like a stable rock already. So why fix something when it’s not broken.