There are many folks out there who swear by stock Android. While we will agree that many Android skins tend to be bloated and poorly designed in comparison, some skins work so well that they transcend stock Android to become something even better. Today, we’re going to look at two of those skins in a kind of face-off event: Oxygen OS vs One UI.
Oxygen OS is the Android skin used exclusively by Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus. The skin debuted on the OnePlus One after the failure of the company’s partnership with Cyanogen, Inc. and its Cyanogen OS, which originally powered the One. Oxygen OS is all about simplicity with an experience as close to stock as possible while offering only the most important of extra features.
One UI is the Android skin used exclusively by South Korean smartphone maker Samsung. Most would consider it the third iteration of its original Android skin, which was known as TouchWiz. That skin eventually became Samsung Experience which itself evolved into One UI. Samsung’s Android skin is all about options — it allows the user to do pretty much anything they would want at the cost of simplicity and that stock Android feel.
Related: What is stock Android?
In the Oxygen OS vs One UI debate, you might already know which side you’re on. However, some people out there may have only ever used Samsung devices and might be curious to know what all the fuss is about when it comes to Oxygen OS. Conversely, some people may have abandoned Samsung for OnePlus back in the TouchWiz days and would like to know what One UI is like. Hopefully, this article will answer any questions you may have!
Without further ado, let’s dive right into the Oxygen OS vs One UI examination!
Oxygen OS vs One UI: The basic takeaway
If we had to compare the Oxygen OS vs One UI debate to another bout, the best comparison might be macOS vs Windows. While macOS is slightly more limited when it comes to features and compatibility as compared to Windows, it is generally accepted that it is easier to use and more intuitive. On the flip side, it’s generally accepted that Windows is more powerful and versatile than macOS at the expense of simplicity and usability.
If you accept that comparison, Oxygen OS is more like macOS and One UI is more like Windows. If you were to pick up a OnePlus phone and just start swiping around aimlessly, you’d probably think you were using stock Android since it’s so simple and lean. You definitely would not get the same feeling from a Samsung phone as the look and functionality of One UI is drastically different and positively overflowing with options.
If you come away from this article with only one thing, that should be it. Oxygen OS does only what OnePlus thinks you need to do while One UI offers everything Samsung thinks you want to do.
Both approaches to Android will have their ardent supporters (and detractors). However, always remember that not everyone uses their smartphone the way you do and some people might appreciate the other system more than the one you prefer!
With all that in mind, let’s break down the major aspects of an Android skin and look at Oxygen OS vs One UI in each one!
By default, both Samsung and OnePlus offer up pretty much the same thing here. If you don’t have any notifications, the ambient display will show you the time, date, and your current battery level. If you have some notifications, the related icons will show up here, too.
The major difference is the options you have for customizing the ambient display. OnePlus offers a total of four options: the default (as shown above), the same thing but with an analog clock instead of the four numbers, just the analog clock, or nothing at all.
Meanwhile, Samsung offers tons of options here. Not only does One UI come with nearly a dozen built-in layouts from which you can pick, but you can also download even more from the Galaxy Store. Additionally, you can choose the fonts and colors of each aspect of the ambient display screen.
On a related note, One UI also offers an always-on display (AOD), which is off by default on the Note 10 Plus. This is similarly customizable if you choose to activate it. So far, Oxygen OS doesn’t offer AOD at all.
Once you get out of the ambient display you enter the lock screen. Once again, by default, Samsung and OnePlus offer pretty much the same thing here. The only major difference between the two defaults is that OnePlus offers a shortcut for voice commands (through Google Assistant) in the lower-left corner. In One UI, Samsung has a shortcut to the dialer in the same spot.
As one would expect, though, Samsung offers plenty of customization features for the lock screen. You can change those two bottom apps to be whatever you like, for example. If you don’t like the lack of security with those shortcuts, you can use the floating button setting which forces you to unlock your device with your fingerprint before swiping to one of the two app shortcuts.
You can also add Face Widgets to your lock screen in One UI, which brings in specialized widgets created by Samsung. Check the screenshots above to see some options you have there.
To its credit, Oxygen OS does allow for you to make changes to the lock screen such as wallpaper (naturally), the way your notifications show up, or even disable notifications altogether. You can also add a brief message to the lock screen such as your contact info (should your phone get lost) or an inspirational quote. However, One UI also offers these settings.
Lock screen security
To leave the lock screen and actually gain access to the phone, you’ll need to unlock it. Depending on which device you have, there could be different options for either One UI or Oxygen OS. However, there will be a lot of crossovers.
Both Android skins offer plenty of ways for you to unlock the phone, including a PIN entry, a swipe pattern, a text password, and the very insecure face unlock (since Samsung and OnePlus have yet to roll out phones with 3D sensors on the front, this isn’t an advisable option). If you don’t care much about security, you can also choose to just swipe out of the lock screen or even deactivate it all together, as both skins have these options.
Almost all newer Samsung and OnePlus devices also feature fingerprint scanners, whether they be under the display or elsewhere. This is also an option with One UI and Oxygen OS.
In both skins, you can also choose how the lock screen is activated. For example, how fast after the display goes to sleep do you want the phone to lock itself? The default is five seconds, but you can make this shorter or longer. You can also choose whether or not hitting the power key (which will immediately put the screen to sleep) locks the device or not in both skins.
The only thing you can do with One UI that you can’t do with Oxygen OS is turn on “Auto factory reset.” This will wipe your phone — including all personal data — if there are 15 incorrect attempts to unlock it. Be careful with this one!
Once you’ve unlocked your smartphone you hit the home screen. It’s actually pretty incredible how similar One UI and Oxygen OS are out-of-the-box here. Although things are re-ordered a bit and Samsung has a few more app icons by default, the layouts have basically the same information and available functions. OnePlus’ five default dock apps are essentially the same as Samsung’s four (OnePlus just throws in its Gallery app), there’s a Google search bar, and even the weather widgets look very similar.
Notably, Microsoft’s cloud storage service OneDrive has a very prominent placement on the One UI home screen by default. This is likely a Note 10 exclusive as Samsung and Microsoft partnered up significantly for the business- and productivity-focused smartphone. The Galaxy Store also gets some prominent home screen attention on One UI.
Outside of the dock, OnePlus only offers a folder of Google apps and a Play Store shortcut on the home page, which lines up well with its “less is more” approach.
If you want to tweak the way your home screen looks, you’ll need to head into settings on both Oxygen OS and One UI. Here is a list of things you can do on either Android skin:
- Choose to keep or eliminate the app drawer. If you eliminate it, all apps are on your home screens.
- Auto-add new apps to the home screen when installed.
- Activate a double-tap on a blank area of the home screen to lock the device.
- Turn notification badges (the dots on app icons) on or off.
- Resize icons and change how many apps can fit on a page. One UI and Oxygen OS offer slightly different procedures here, but the results are the same.
Here is a list of things you can only do with Oxygen OS:
- Make a swipe down anywhere on the home screen immediately pull down your notification drawer fully so you can see all Quick Settings tiles.
- Instead of seeing all your app icons when opening the drawer, you can make it so you only see an active search bar. Helpful if you have a lot of apps.
Finally, here is a list of things you can only do with One UI:
- Choose to have your home screen reformat itself if you move the phone into landscape mode.
- Lock the home screen layout to prevent any accidental changes.
Keep in mind that all of this information is for the default Oxygen OS and One UI launchers. There are tons of third-party launchers available from the Google Play Store that will give you different options.
Home screen settings
From the home screen on either Oxygen OS or One UI, you can long-press on some empty space and pull up the home screen settings. We’re going to break down each aspect of the various settings here.
Samsung offers a few extra functions here as compared to OnePlus. With One UI, you can add blank home screen pages easily by swiping right and clicking the plus button. We’re not sure why you would ever want blank home screen pages, but One UI gives you that option. You can also easily delete home screen pages regardless if they have content in them or not.
If you swipe left in the home screen settings page on One UI you can enable or disable Bixby Home or Samsung Daily, depending on your device. This feature acts sort of like OnePlus’ Shelf feature (both of which we talk more about in the Miscellaneous section below).
Meanwhile, Oxygen OS doesn’t offer either of these features. To control how Shelf works, you need to go to the main Android settings section. You also can’t add blank home screens here. To add a new home screen page, you need to drag an icon from the main home screen to the right which will auto-create a new screen. If you empty out that screen it will auto-delete as Oxygen OS doesn’t let you have blank home screens.
One thing Oxygen OS does offer that One UI doesn’t here is the ability to quickly arrange a home screen page’s icons in a left-alignment. If your icons are scattered about, this is a nice way to auto-organize things.
Both Oxygen OS and One UI have quick shortcuts to their respective control centers for changing wallpapers. Here you can easily change the lock screen wallpaper or home screen wallpaper, regardless of which skin you’re using.
Oxygen OS has a special setting here called Shot on OnePlus. This online-based repository of photos is (naturally) filled with images from photographers using a OnePlus device. You can submit your own photos here if you choose and using any of the Shot on OnePlus files as wallpaper is free.
One UI offers something else called Wallpaper Services. Here you can program your lock screen wallpaper to change constantly between photos in various categories. If you want to do even more with your wallpapers, you can hit the “Explore more wallpapers” button and visit the Galaxy Themes store where you can browse through free and paid theming aspects to install on your phone.
Samsung and OnePlus took very different approaches when it comes to organizing widgets. Oxygen OS presents widgets in a very simple way: a vertically-scrolling list in alphabetical order. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
One UI uses a horizontally scrolling system with six widget categories on each page. If you tap a widget/app category, a new page appears with the widgets in that category. It makes things a little easier to sort through but there’s a lot more tapping involved.
The one aspect here where Samsung undoubtedly wins is the fact that there’s a search bar at the top of the One UI widget selector screen. Oxygen OS has no ability to search for widgets for some reason.
Oxygen OS has a theming section called Customization. However, it is not accessible from the home screen settings page — you’ll need to go to Android settings to find it.
One UI, however, offers a quick shortcut to its theming section in the home screen settings area, appropriately called Themes. All this does, though, is open up the previously mentioned Galaxy Themes store where you can find free and paid themes to install.
A quick swipe up anywhere on the home screens of either Oxygen OS or One UI will bring up the app drawer. For some strange reason, though, when using One UI on the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, a swipe down also opens the app drawer by default. Logic dictates this should instead bring down the notification shade, but it doesn’t out-of-the-box. Thankfully, you can change that with a tweak in settings. You can also choose to add a tappable button to the home screen that will open the app drawer in One UI.
Once you’re in the app drawer, Oxygen OS offers a nifty feature here that One UI lacks. If you swipe left while you’re in the app drawer you’ll find a section called Hidden Space. Here, you can hide apps that you don’t want to appear in your app drawer. This is useful for hiding the few bloatware apps that come on some OnePlus devices (since you can’t uninstall them) or keeping private apps hidden from anyone who might pick up your phone and start scrolling around. You can even lock Hidden Space behind a password and quickly access it from the home screen by using two fingers and sliding in an outward motion vertically.
One UI doesn’t have something quite like Hidden Space, but it does give you the ability to simply hide apps. However, there isn’t an easy way to then access all the hidden apps, which is the real benefit of Hidden Space.
As far as app drawer organization goes, Oxygen OS simply lists out your apps in alphabetical order while One UI allows you to set your own custom order. Because of this, there’s also an option to clean up your pages and quickly remove any empty spaces you may have left behind when you were reorganizing.
Oxygen OS only has one option for the layout of its app drawer: a vertical-scrolling list with five columns of icons resulting in 30 apps per page. One UI has horizontal-scrolling pages and allows you to choose how many icons appear on each page, with the minimum being 20 and the maximum being 30.
Thankfully, both app drawers have a search bar at the top, which is essential for anyone who finds themselves with hundreds of apps installed on their phone.
A large portion of the pre-installed apps that come with a OnePlus phone are made by Google. Chrome is the default browser, Google Pay is the default wallet app, Gmail is the default email app, and on and on.
OnePlus does pre-install some of its own apps, though. There’s a weather app, an app designed to help you move your data from another phone, and an app that links to the OnePlus community forums. These three apps can be uninstalled if you don’t want them.
Related: Does bloatware drain your battery?
The only third-party, non-Google app that is pre-installed on OnePlus phones is Netflix, which can be easily disabled if you don’t want it. It can’t be uninstalled.
Finally, there is one app that OnePlus includes with its phones that is a duplicate of what a Google app already offers, living up to the definition of bloatware. The OnePlus Gallery app — which has a limited feature set when compared to Google Photos — can’t be uninstalled. You can disable it and set Google Photos as your default app, though.
When it comes to One UI, pre-installed apps run rampant. There are different apps pre-installed on different phones so you may or may not have them all. Here is a list of the Samsung apps on a Galaxy Note 10 Plus that you cannot uninstall or even disable:
- Samsung Internet
- Galaxy Store
- Samsung Notes
- Samsung Cloud
- Samsung Pass
With these apps, the only thing you can do is hide them. They will still be active in the background and taking up internal storage space.
Additionally, Samsung includes a bevy of Google and Microsoft apps as well as Netflix and Facebook. Some of these apps can all be either disabled or fully uninstalled, but some can only be disabled, such as Facebook.
The bottom line when it comes to apps is that Samsung really, really wants you to use its proprietary apps while OnePlus leaves it mostly up to you.
When it comes to organizing your apps into folders, both Oxygen OS and One UI offer almost identical options. Regardless of the platform, you can drag two apps together to automatically create a folder. You can then name that folder whatever you like and then add or remove apps from it to your heart’s content.
In both skins, you can also create folders for the home screen and for the app drawer independently. Or, you can make one in the app drawer and drag it onto the home screen to create a duplicate. However, the copied folder will then become independent, i.e., adding an app to one won’t automatically add that same app to the other.
The only difference here is that, in One UI, you can change the background color of a folder. Oxygen OS does not have this option.
The notification shade is probably one of the most important and defining aspects of Android. As such, the way an Android skin organizes and displays the information here is incredibly important.
Obviously, both skins will show you all your notifications here. You can also swipe notifications away or long-press one to see additional options related to that application. However, the design of the shade as well as what information is shown there differs across each skin.
When you pull down the notification shade the first time, both Oxygen OS and One UI show you similar info. The first six Quick Settings tiles show as well as the date, time, and status bar information. Both skins also give you a quick shortcut to jump to Android settings, depicted as a small gear icon.
Although there are differences in how the two Android skins layout this info, they each have access to all those features.
As usual, though, One UI goes the extra mile and shows more information as compared to Oxygen OS. There’s a power shortcut that quickly takes you to the restart/shutdown menu, a link to the Samsung Media center (from which you can control media playing on your phone and other linked devices), and a link to the Samsung Devices center (from which you can control said connected devices).
When you do a second pull of the notification shade in Oxygen OS, you see a few more Quick Settings tiles, a shortcut to edit your Quick Settings tiles, a brightness slider, and a quick link to the User section of settings. That last feature allows you to create different profiles for your phone, say one for you and another for your kid or one for your job and one for while you’re at home. You can easily swap from one profile to another without ever leaving the notification shade.
That’s it for the Oxygen OS skin as far as the notification shade goes. One UI, on the other hand, basically explodes the notification shade with features once you make that second pull.
By default, One UI on the Note 10 Plus gives you 28 Quick Settings tiles in your notification shade, with potentially dozens more available depending on which apps you have installed. It also brings in a search shortcut (that combs through your apps and internal storage), a brightness slider, and an overflow menu with more settings tweaks.
In the overflow menu, you can change the order of the Quick Settings tiles, turn off the previously mentioned Samsung Media and Samsung Devices shortcuts, move the brightness slider so that it appears even with just one pull, and take a shortcut to tweak the status bar icons.