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Android UI comparison: 2017 edition
Hardware Google Samsung 5 min read 78 comments

Android UI comparison: 2017 edition

True to the motto “be together, not the same”, every smartphone manufacturer overlays its own adjustments to the Android operating system. We took a closer look at the typical differences and are putting together a UI comparison of smartphones that have been released so far in 2017.

Samsung TouchWiz

The most popular Android smartphone manufacturer still relies on its tried-and-true TouchWiz. It exclusively offers Bixby, an AI assistant aimed at competing with Siri, Alexa and the Google Assistant.

Samsung equips its top devices with the Game Launcher, although some models of the A-series now sport it, too. It records games, suppresses incoming notifications and background services while you’re playing, and ensures an immersive player experience. Modes for greater performance and battery-saving modes give you greater control over performance, mainly on higher-end Samsung devices.

Security updates released on time practically every month currently make Samsung smartphones among the most secure on the market.

Huawei EMUI

Huawei has incorporated the long-missing app drawer in its launcher’s portfolio. Leica-branded models offer comprehensive profile modes in the camera app to give your photos a unique character.

Huawei uses machine learning-supported memory optimization under the hood. Based on your behavior, the most frequently used apps are kept ready for quick access. This makes the smartphone just as snappy as when you first started using it, even after several months of use.

Huawei also provides updates, but not as frequently as Samsung. It mainly provides new features or refinement to the existing range of functions.

HTC Sense

The user interface on the HTC U11 is spruced up with squeeze gestures and Sense Companion. The former offers two freely-selectable squeeze gestures. Squeezing the device in your hand starts an app or activates a function. In contrast, Sense Companion is an AI assistant that learns from you over time and helps you use your device, although its learning phase is so long that, even after several weeks of use, the first test devices did not show if it was really worth its salt.

HTC provides swift updates and new software versions. Sometimes it is so fast that updates must be postponed for troubleshooting. But, it ensures a continuously improving user experience, especially for the top models. HTC uses many apps and functions from Google and vanilla Android instead of its own developments, leaving more storage space free for you.

LG UX

Even LG looks delightfully slim and mostly foregoes its own add-ons that would not already be present by Google or Android standards. The dual-screen mode was slightly optimized so that display errors due to incompatible apps are reduced. An app recycling bin keeps apps on your smartphone for 24 hours after being uninstalled before storage space is permanently freed up.

LG is not particularly quick with updates. The manufacturer is notably slow with large version changes and is one of the last ones to provide the upgrade.

Google Pixel UI with Android O (Beta)

There is no such thing as stock Android anymore. Google gives its Pixel smartphones features that are not available for Nexus devices with the same software version. Its peculiarities: Google Assistant for search, help and smart home control. Pixel owners also have unlimited storage for high-resolution photos in Google Photos.



As a general rule, the pure Google experience and the quickest software updates will give you the purest Android that you can get for your money. The video above is with the Android O Beta, but Android 8.0 Oreo has since been released.

Sony Xperia UI

Sony delivers an Android variant whose interface does not stray too far from the original. Only the start screens, app drawer and keyboard are visibly different. Despite a number of comparable improvements to the core Android system, Stamina mode for extending battery life is still around. Furthermore, Sony offers an assistant for freeing up internal memory.

Sony currently manages to provide timely software updates for its top devices. Unfortunately, the camera app is unclear and fractured. Moreover, its faulty image processing delivers results don't live up to the expectations of the camera hardware, which is actually good.

Conclusion

Some manufacturers provide true added value to the user through their interpretations of Android. Samsung has invented an exciting solution for gamers with Game Mode. Huawei’s background optimizations actually work, even if they are not immediately apparent. Google Photos’ free storage with automatic storage optimization ensures that your storage will never be full due to photos.

Other manufacturers such as Sony or HTC provide extras whose benefits are not apparent to everyone. These manufacturers ought to stand out by providing good and consistent software updates, since this continues to be a point of criticism and an often-underappreciated added value for us users, since our smartphones not only move our personal data but are also becoming the center of our increasingly connected life.

What is your favorite Android UI?
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78 comments

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  • I think the Author here is trying to pretend that Xiomi should not be in the list ?

    Where is Miui ? The best UI now by all reviewers in 2018 !!!

    Plz update ur article with Miui


  • sony is best


  • The stock android boasts for speed at the price of features. With advancement in hardware, it leaves no room for excuses for lack of features to make the user experience better. Google needs a lot of work on its UI. I agree with a lot of comments, google can learn from MIUI


  • After experiencing all of these UIs I'm gonna have to go with stock... well Pixel since it doesn't get any more Android then that. However, since I'm an iOS aesthetics fan I'd use EMUI or MIUI any day and it is pretty snappy. I absolutely hate HTC Sense UIs bloatedness and LG is just too boring.


  • What about the MIUI apart from the icons the UI looks Great. better than sony lg htc


  • Unreadable because it slows my phone down to a turtle because of all the youtube videos that have to load....


  • Anik Jun 15, 2017 Link to comment

    OnePlus' Oxygen OS could easily compete with the Pixel's Android O for the best android UI award. Xiaomi's MIUI is pretty decent too!


  • I was hoping to see Lenovo, OnePlus, Xiaomi and Asus UIs too.


  • I have no problem with TouchWIZ myself.


  • Oxygen Os


  • Is it possible to change de UI in the OEM android phones without root them?


  • I still prefer Stock Android UI


  • Good Lock is a feature on TouchWiz that completely changes the notifications, lock screen and recents if you so choose.


  • Of the ones mentioned I like Xperia UI the best. It looks less juvenile that the others and everything appears very clear and organised.


  • for me xperia ui is not good because they are making screen smaller by putting softkey at the bottom of the screen instead of having their own separated softkeys.. & xperia getting very hot like a flat iron..


  • Where is MIUI ...??!!!
    I think you need to update this article with MIUI..
    It's the best UI


  • Miui is the best UI for android


  • MIUI is very heavy to run, spend a lot of RAM, so often multitasking interrupted, the phone is equipped with a great specification but feels like regural phone, because the pursuit of UI. MIUI has a great UI, but it has its menus as well, just like the others.


  • MIUI Is the best UI In all types of android mobile


  • MIUI is the best option. Too bad it isn't even in the list.


  • As for me the best UI is stock Android or MIUI.


    • Stock and MIUI are poles apart bro. MIUI has loads of features which the stock android version does not have. A basic notification dot is available only after oreo update.


  • pentel Aug 16, 2016 Link to comment

    Great review. Better if the videos are 2 minute in length each. Samsung's TouchWiz is superior to the Stock Android. Two examples: One swipe down for the notifications on home screen for Samsung's TouchWiz, I can tap to turn on the wi-fi, etc. For the stock Android, I need 2 swipes. In the phone log of the Samsung's TouchWiz, tap "more" and I can check to delete a single or multiple log entries at one time. For the stock Android, I need to navigate a series of screens to delete a single phone log. Samsung's TouchWiz wins hands down in such a deletion scenario of phone logs, text messages, etc. Just two taps, and deletion is done. I don't know if the Sony Xperia UI or others can do this.


  • I love to use simple,pure and classic UI. Most of them are over masked. Googles pure android is great and second one is HTC in my opinion for its simplicity.


  • eeshu Jun 28, 2016 Link to comment

    Dammit where is miui
    It kills the need for many third party applications


  • I honestly mean that google needs to use some new and fresh updates into android. All for now is more of the same. I need something new, something big!


  • Interesting:)


  • I would prefer Nexus devices which are having original stock Android.......
    Nexus phones are the best even with low ram on paper runs just flawless!!!


  • This article was informative,but i feel you missed out some of the major clans like miui and cyanogen os. When it comes for what defines an UI is its customization,those both OS tops the chart and you know that! then why those where missed out? Hope you add em on the next article when this gets updated :)


    • U have a strong point there. Like me i dont know much about those too uis u mentioned above especially cyanogen ui, seen miui once in a phone shop with its lack of an app drawer


    • Top the chart??? Sure...YOUR chart. I dont like cyanogen. Especially because theres like 500 versions/updates wich cause trouble every time. Stock nexus android is almost flawless....just add nova launcher and you're done. They have a saying: dont change whats not broken....every squashed bug creates 99 new bugs


  • HTC Sense doesn't let you Customize Quick Settings using System UI Tuner. No idea why.


  • Paolo Jun 23, 2016 Link to comment

    I swear by the absolute functionality of TouchWiz, though Stock Android looks nice. I HATE that for the longest time Google crippled Stock Android and only now that started to learn from the likes of TouchWiz to not gimp on functionality...


  • MIUI is better than almost all of the above!


    • Paolo Jun 23, 2016 Link to comment

      MIUI is slow as molasses, and your grandparents will be more up to date than MIUI will EVER be!!! It does look nice though.


      • ha ha see it does look nice though lol. High customization without using a third party apps! That's what I want.


      • ???? I have the Mi5 running Android 6.0, it runs super nice, have lots of stuff that Android lack of, I have received a couple of updates one of them was yesterday, Im coming from Stock Android on Moto X, and to be honest it gets old pretty quick, I have find no lag on MIUI7 on the Mi5, and they way it looks, the way the toggles work are just super nice and quick.


      • Typing on my Note 3(MIUI V7) which is equally faster, but more stable than my Nexus 6P. You are not up to date, if you think MIUI is slow. Don't mislead people.


    • they are the last to provide update.they are running 2 years behind the current version of android. I have got Redmi 2 prime ,device is not much new but not much old also. in august they are providing Lollipop when google is releasing Android 7.0. Is it fair? why cant we expect some quick updates?


  • I used almost all UIs, but I am not happy with anyone. If I need to pick any, then I would pick TouchWiz. Otherwise I would prefer Stock+Nova Launcher Premium. I don't like stock android's look( basically icons and app drawer background,white!! you must be kidding!!!). I liked HTC sense's People app (contact), clock and weather widget. EMUI of honor is very neat, looks stunning. They should provide option to choose from with or without app drawer (like VIBE UI of Lenovo). Also I would prefer customization on vertical/horizontal scrolling. White background or Dark background. Android stock should contain all these minor customization and they should improve the look and feel of the UI. If they can provide the advanced customization without making the UI heavy, like Cyanogen OS.

    People may think I am asking more, but I do believe it is possible for Google to include all these without making the UI heavier, like Cyanogen does.


  • Stock android always.Its beautiful, simple,free from bloatware and most importantly I love it...


  • if u like features and simplicity at the same time thn go for samsung.....samsung need to make touchwiz a little lite weight otherwise touchwiz is best ui ever.........sony and lg are worst....sense is something ok to use....stock is for developers not for normal use...stock ui has no features just plane n fast.........emotion ui should not be put in this race.....emotion is nt that stable as others


    • Touchwizz is terrible! It works on the newest phones with fastest processors....dont even think about i stalling touchwizz on a 2 year old phone...its like Apple stops updating phones after a while because they're UI gets too heavy... Try Stock Android :-) Will always work...! Google should make a real nexus again...snap820/23mp cam/4gb lpddr4 etc.... that would be a phone for the next 10 years!!!


  • tariq Jun 23, 2016 Link to comment

    i use Nova launcher! lol
    I prefer Old Sony UI.
    Samsung is good.
    and things i learned..
    Honor does not have app drawer..
    and LG got 4 buttons. wow
    GREAT ARTICLE!


  • As always: great article and feedback, Scott.

    Now... I would say I'm a stock android fanboy, but I do like the touch-up that Motorola did on it. On my Moto X Style, that is. Twist phone for camera, chopping movement for flashlight, and those are just some amazing examples implemented in the stock android version of the latest Moto X.

    In short: I like "Pure Android", but also don't mind some spicy stuff in my soup-a lá Android.

    EDIT: I should mention I'm using Nova Launcher Prime, as of right now. It's the best UI there is for Android! So much options for customization.


  • Mark
    • Admin
    Jun 23, 2016 Link to comment

    Good article. I like touchwiz never had the problem a lot of people have with it other than the bloat ware. I use Nova launcher the most now.


  • Samsung Galaxy S6 was my first (and to date) only Android smartphone. I came from iPhone 4. Quite a jump. Personally I prefer iOs UI to TouchWiz. But, I use Nova Prime as my home screen, so most of the look of TouchWiz you've outlined in this article is invisible to me. I do miss the swipe left news feed feature from TouchWiz (and now on iOs).


  • Atom Jun 22, 2016 Link to comment

    Motorola's UI is the best. Stock android with contextual intelligence. Doesn't get any better than that.


  • eeshu Apr 29, 2016 Link to comment

    Well there is miui 7


  • Hey where is the Zen UI of asus ?you did not compare it
    .why?


  • i LOVE TOUCHWIZ


  • Steve Feb 6, 2016 Link to comment

    All of the touchwiz UIs have been garbage since 4.4.2. I won't let my phone update because the bright white menus would be too bright for night viewing. 4.2.2 still has a black menu background. I didn't see any way of changing that awful color scheme after upgrading. I actually had to trade in for a new phone to get 4.2.2 back.


  • David Jan 28, 2016 Link to comment

    Can i have a link of the wallpaper of the nexus phone?


    • David Jan 28, 2016 Link to comment

      nevermind!


    • I believe it's a pre-installed wallpaper native to Android 6.0. But you can always search for Android Marshmallow wallpapers on google. Hope it helps!

      EDIT: Holy shit, I just realized this article is 4 months old! Now this is awkward.


  • Xperia UI


  • I prefer the xperia ui. It the best for now


  • ZenUI?


  • LG G4 has an improved UI already (UX 4.0). It is more elegant looking than the G3's UI, and you can apply theme to it, available from LG SmartWorld app store.


  • If you look closely, TW is the only UI that is on Android version 6.


  • i know there are lot of people who hate samsung.....but samsung has the best ui till now.....u should not put bloatware topic in it.......lg has the worst of all......sony and htc should work little more to be near about good......moto n nexus phones have best ui n after them comes samsung......other ui are too much complicated


    • Samsung's UI has always been cluttered with a bunch of useless features. Its the ugliest thing to manage and touchwiz launcher sucks too. I've been a fan of stock but I jumped to Xperia since it resembles stock and I love its bouncy and smooth animations.


  • My favorite is Cyanogenmod


  • so this seems like as good a place as any, to express my wishes (the other candidate, for this comment would be one of the rumor mill articles)...on behalf of all techies, nerds and freaks, I hope all of the major manufacturers read this...Sony, HTC, Samsung, LG, Motorola this is for you.
    what we, the consumers, would really like to see (when I can speak on behalf of millions) is a device that doesn't make compromises. ok, maybe I should speak in the first person.
    I'd fall all over myself, throwing money at a device that has the best of what each company does. so, I'd give my right arm, to be able to have access to a device that is the apex in all aspects (at the split second of release of course). Camera. Speakers. Sound quality. UI. Professor. RAM. GPU. Accessories.
    my Christmas wish is a co-operation, of r&d, and manufacturing, between major manufacturers.
    a phone with a Sony camera (with OIS and digital...and optical zoom). HTC speakers, boom. LG, you're in charge of the screen (UHD implied). Samsung...Accessories, UI and bloatware (but not too much), yeah touchwiz sucks, but it's mostly attractive. Oh, and Sony- I dig the noise canceling earbuds for the Z series we need that. Sony's button placement is radical but amazingly intuitive, get that in there too. I want a wicked fast processor, 64bit, of course, and a sic GPU. USB3 (or 4, dang it). I want 128gb of device storage, if you can't cram a tb into it. a removable battery. micro sd expansion support.
    ideally, this whole setup would be configurable, so if somebody likes the hardware buttons from LG better, they could opt for it. or another manufacturer's UI...hell, ideal is stock. an unlocked bootloader and root should also be on-board. and let's get the thickness down to like 7mm (or less, as long as I'm wishing). metal unibody design, something that doesn't collect fingerprints like pokemon cards. and Motorola, give me interchangeable back plates with leather, pigskin, and carbon fiber in the box. wireless charging, and a docking station in the box. raise your hand if you are able to put an IR blaster in it. B-) Samsung- the new and improved s-pen. good. and that, friends, is how Android could beat crApple.
    yes...a tall order. But I believe in you major manufacturers, and the powers of transparency and a capitalistic consumer world that will make you money!
    I'm tired of compromises. I love my Z3, but it's just the best fit. I want the best device I can imagine. and I can imagine a lot.
    Oh, and next...I'll wish myself a tablet and a smartwatch (bring on more wearables!) to match.


  • With the advancement of technology and our better understanding of how it functions, we're constantly putting out new products to make our daily lives more enjoyable or easier. One of the biggest and fastest growing markets in the world is the mobile phone industry.


  • Uhm I really think you should have used stock 4.4 for the comparison instead of Lollipop, as every other UI is actually a KitKat ROM...


    • Exactly. Also, Oneplus One has theme showcase which changes the UI look drastically.


    • I think it's more interesting for the reader to look at Lollipop. I don't think anybody but us has put it side-by-side like this yet. I thought this would really help people visualize the Lollipop changes that we have written about so much. I accept your point of view, though, and I expect this will divide people :/


    • I disagree. If you're shopping for a new phone, these are the UIs you're going to see. I would argue they should have used stock Marshmallow for the comparison. I don't understand why you'd want to see a comparison against an interface introduced in 2013.


  • Epic comparison.
    Saved in Pocket, for when the monsters have been put to bed.
    Information rocks, thus stuff is fascinating.