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Why I'll never go back to TouchWiz

I recently experienced something that every smartphone owner looks forward to – New Phone Day! I finally upgraded from my trusty Galaxy device, and I'm pretty smitten with my new Moto G (2015) and its near-stock Android interface. And now I've tried it, nothing in the world could make me go back to a device with TouchWiz.

It'd be unfair to directly compare my new Moto G with my old Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini – there's a two-year age gap between the two devices, after all, so the Motorola is bound to feel like a better phone. But it's not the slightly improved technical specs and marginally more up-to-date Android version that have rocked my world. It's the streamlined, bloatware-free experience that the almost-stock Android OS offers. Here's why.

I like things neat

The key downside of Touchwiz is the amount of bloatware it brings along with it. My S4 Mini came with 52 apps preinstalled. 52! They spanned three screens when I scrolled through my app drawer, and that's before I downloaded any of my own.

samsung cluttered app drawer
Three screens' worth apps from the outset – what a mess! / © ANDROIDPIT

It's bad enough that nearly a third of them sat eternally unused, like most of the channels in your cable subscription, for the entire time I used the phone as a daily driver. But what really gets my goat is that many of Samsung's preinstalled apps were duplicates of commonly-used Google apps.

Do I really need two internet browsers and two email apps? And while I'm sure S Planner and S Translate are perfectly functional, I prefer Google Calender and Leo, which means I was stuck with double calendar and translation apps too. And having two of everything just looks untidy. 

All the apps on my Moto G fit nicely within two screens, including nine that I downloaded myself. There are no duplicates, almost nothing that I haven't or wouldn't have chosen myself and nothing cluttering up the place unnecessarily. Much better.

motorola minimal app drawer
With less bloatware, everything sits neatly on two screens. Much better. / © ANDROIDPIT

I like things simple

When I move into a new apartment, I don't expect to have to spend the first hour of my time there throwing out surplus furniture or stuffing other people's junk into a closet (although it has happened).

I don't want to do that with my phone either. With the Moto G, all I had to do was add my SIM card, log into Google and I was away.

When I booted up the S4 Mini for the time, it tried to get me to add a Samsung account, and then pushed Dropbox on me. It left loads of junk (sorry, widgets and apps shortcuts) lying around the homescreen too, which I had to get rid of before I could really make the phone feel like home.

samsung s4mini messyhomescreens
Who left all that junk lying around? / © ANDROIDPIT

I like things quick

Every time I picked up my S4 Mini it seemed to be updating something or other, which really slowed down the performance of the phone. If it decided it wanted to update several apps all at once, it basically meant I couldn't use the phone until it was finished – not efficiently, anyway.

The Moto runs updates too of course, but fewer apps mean fewer updates, which means it spends less time being otherwise occupied when I want to Instagram the brownie I just bought. 

Fewer apps to scroll through also means I find the one I want to use more quickly, as does not being presented with a choice of apps to use each time I hit a web link. These might sound like small things, but every second counts in the life of an AndroidPIT staffer. Those deadlines don't meet themselves. 

android 60 marshmallow hero devil 1
Give me underdressed Android over overdressed Android any day. / © ANDROIDPIT

Sorry, Touchwiz – we aren't ever getting back together

I'm pretty minimalist, and having a clean and tidy app drawer has improved my smartphone experience no end. It's also significantly nicer being able to find what I want quickly and easily, rather than sifting through lots of things I don't. 

Yes, there are workarounds for all of my complaints – disabling apps or auto-updates, or installing a custom ROM – but I'd much rather have a phone that didn't require me to do all that in the first place. For those reasons, when the time comes to upgrade my current phone, it's unlikely that I'll even consider one with TouchWiz or any other UI that adds too much the basic Android software. 

What do you think? Does TouchWiz detract from an otherwise great phone, or does it add essential features to the Android OS? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Readers' favorite comments

  • Mark G. Feb 17, 2016

    The pre-installed apps on Samsung Galaxy devices are split between Google & Samsung to imply that the 52 apps were Samsung is misleading at the best.

    I'm using the excellent Samsung Galaxy S5 running Android 5.02, I've disabled the Google/Samsung apps I don't use and re arranged my home screens with the widgets and apps I use I would have done this even if the screens were empty.

    If you had just said "im a minimalist" so prefer stock Android would be ok. Instead you tried really hard to justify your decision with the consequences of looking petty.

    You don't have to use a Samsung account though its needed for "find my phone" and "back up service" (which I believe your colleagues praise and urge Samsung users to activate).

    50gb free Dropbox is a good thing - but you don't have to use it. (again your colleagues highlight the need to have different formats for backing up).

    I personally find the S Planner does a better job than the other calendar apps.

    I find looking for apps is not a hassle (I have lots installed). My app drawer is customisable. I have my apps sorted so all the Google apps are together, all my media apps are on another page etc. My home screen is again sorted with a mixture of App folders & widgets. I also use a app called floating Toucher which gives me access to my favourite apps regardless of the screen im using.

    It's unfortunate that your S4 mini slowed down during updates, disabled apps do not get updated so I can only presume it was apps that you were using or again Google apps.. My excellent Samsung Galaxy S5 is very fast, it rarely suffers from lag or forced closes.

    For me Touchwiz is one of the main reasons for purchasing a Samsung.

    Could it be better - yes of course I think I should be able to uninstall pre-installed apps I don't use instead of disabling them.

    A Little Bit of constructive criticism is good, but should be balanced.

    Peace ✌

  • Vernon Denison Feb 17, 2016

    The touchwiz of today on a Samsung 6s edge isn't the same as what was on the s4 mini to even write this report on touchwiz today is so misleading it's a joke, also the touchwiz which is going to be on the s7 edge has had a team from Google working on it for a year so what is that going to be like now.

  • The Multiverse Feb 17, 2016

    Dearest Kim, you REALLY should find something else to do, because this article is - momentarily - the dumbest thing on the site.. This for all reasons mentioned before. You wrote a 2013 review, apparently not knowing the first thing about smartphones at all. The current version of TouchWiz doesn't look anything like your ancient version of the software. And you really should have known this, simply because it's your (not too difficult) job to know, Kim.. It's your JOB!! With all due respect of course.

  • Paolo Feb 17, 2016

    I read and applaud your good points, and I raise why I'd put a TouchWiz phone on my Priority List. Discussions welcome.

    1. Stylus support. This is specific to Galaxy Note (Note 3 user here,) and by God Samsung absolutely nailed it with the S Pen usability, the only true competition for it is in the PC space! It makes the Galaxy Note the TRUE anti-iPhone Android ought to be. Because it's productive.

    2. Multi Window. I really thought Google would wake up and make this standard with Marshmalllow, but nope! You need root and Xposed to enable it. It makes the Nexus 6P nothing more than a bigger screen for YouTube and Clash of Clans, such a waste.

    3. What "bloat" Samsung put, it actually WORKS AS ADVERTISED. Other folks put stuff for the sake of putting stuff. At least the Heart rate sensors are accurate. At least the proximity sensors gestures work. The S Notes sync with Evernote. They don't half ass features, looking at you, LG!

    4. For what it's worth, Samsung consistently puts some of the BEST cameras on mobile at many price points, from the starter phones to the most premium of the lot.

  • Vernon Denison Feb 17, 2016

    No you don't, what has been wrote here about touchwiz is two years out of date, the new touchwiz on the new Samsung flagship phones is nothing like this,the new Samsung s7 / s7 edge has had a Google team working with Samsung on the touchwiz for a year, this report is so out of date it is unbelievable, shocking unbelievable.

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  • rick Feb 22, 2016 Link to comment

    ya, S5 owner here, it dose suck having 30- 35 disabled apps clogging up your phone. Kids mode!! It would be stupid to let a kid fuck around with a 5-600$ device in the first place. I bought my phone outright, why cant i get rid of shit like kids mode? i hope the S7 isnt clutterd like the S5. My carrier is Boost Mobile, and i told them i wanted the S5 with 32 gigs on the device, the told me they dont have 32gigs, and sold me this one with 16 gigs, only thing is, i end up with 11 gigs of it, wtf, all this bloat crap isnt needed. i like The S5, it would be so much nicer if it were not clutterd with stuff that just takes up storage, and kills battery. Stuff thats not even used.


  • Will samsung be updating TouchWiz on all phones I have I9506 S4


  • Michael Feb 18, 2016 Link to comment

    Please don't talk crap about Samsung. Guys back in 2014 Samsung was a bit confused about consumer needs, it's true the software skin on previous devices where so bloated but that was in 2014. This is 2016 and samsung have improved with a better and snappier experience with their devices. Plus what's all this with comparing devices that are
    Two year old with current devices. That's why they are old models, we learn from our mistakes and become better. To me if you don't like devices with over bloated ui and laggy performance save up and get a current device
    #devoted samsung fan


  • hey android pit i m not against u neither i wanna ur writer to be disrespected by me....few year back when android pit had not much user i was there.....i still love android pit....i just coment rude bcos i want android pit level at highest...

    now it comes to ur this article how u can compare galaxy s4 mini ui with stock or moto g....it is time of s6 and s7 look at ui it is far better thn before......with m update it is becoming more light and fast......at the same time look at functionality of touchwiz ui...it provide more feature thn anyother ui.......everybody cant be fond of just plane stock ui so everybody want something new thats why people go for lg...sony....samsung...htc...bcos every ui have something better.......now come to the point verzon bloatware or other US company bloatware thn this prblm is also with nexus phones......

    u can delete my acount ofcos i would have no regrets abt it.....rise above ur own verdicts dont mislead peoples bcos they have trust thats why they log in android pit......thnx android pit and u can do watever u want with my acount....dont warn me at my email do straight if it make a sense


  • Finally someone's feeling how I felt when I used a Samsung.Its ridiculous guys


    • I can relate to the new trimmed up Touch Wiz as a good thing having had an S2. Once I found that other launchers were available I never looked at Touch Wiz again. Just personal preference. Then it came time to get a new phone. I was able to get a nexus 5. I was amazed at the experience. Although a better camera would have been nice, I am very pleased with the phone and I probably won't get another phone for quite a while. The experience of a phone that was devoid of clutter was fun. Any clutter was mine from having some fun with the phone.


  • Dearest Kim, you REALLY should find something else to do, because this article is - momentarily - the dumbest thing on the site.. This for all reasons mentioned before. You wrote a 2013 review, apparently not knowing the first thing about smartphones at all. The current version of TouchWiz doesn't look anything like your ancient version of the software. And you really should have known this, simply because it's your (not too difficult) job to know, Kim.. It's your JOB!! With all due respect of course.


  • Alberto Feb 17, 2016 Link to comment

    I have to be honest. I'm a mobile phone freak and I practically collect them, so I actually know where you're coming from. My previous phone was a Samsung S6 and wow!, what a great phone, great screen and great pictures. It just was a really fast phone. Touchwiz? Hate everything about it. I do wish that one day we can have a Samsung running on stock android. That being said, I couldn't keep it. I don't like Samsung software and just changed it for the Nexus 6P. Sometimes is not only about the specs, and stock android is simple, fast and functional.
    I will just recommend stock android or something really close to it like the Motorola phones.


  • I like the Note Series because of stylus support, stylus support and - stylus support. However, for each of the S apps, there is a better one in the market. I do not want to elaborate why, it is just standard things like proprietary file formats, data storage at yet another cloud, etc. Especially, if I'm used to certain apps (e.g. an alert clock or a calendar) and if they work, I do not have time to learn to use another one. Unfortunately, my Note 1 broke recently.

    Thus I bought a vanilla Note 4 (because a Smart phone need about one year to ripen), skipped Google and Android account, applied the pending Android updates, rooted it, installed Titanium backup, deleted all apps starting with S and all other identifiable bloatware, restored the apps from my Note 1 with Titanium from the SD card (including Nova Launcher), and set up the Google account without data sync. Then I try out all apps; some of them are set to not auto update, as the developers destroyed the functionality in later versions. This is two days of work, but it is still the most comfortable way.

    I was not able to get rid of all nonsense like the motion sensor wakelock which leads to 4 times shorter battery live when the phone is moved than when it is lying still on a table (best feature ever), but now I am at least able to work.

    Yes, I do productive work with my phone. I use only payed apps, and I have a payed Skype and Dropbox account. I need no free offers. Samsung should add a config option "Productive work"; if it is on, all the toddler's toys should disappear.

    The hardware, including screen, camera, agps, sd card, ... is great. It is only TouchWiz which deteriorates user experience.


  • I like TouchWiz, but it needs a lot of bloatware
    remove.
    After removal of the excellent experience


  • Can see Kim is new to the hardcore tech community. Just entered the "hate Samsung" stage, where most were 2 years ago. Really bored of that crap. Doesn't make you fit in, just shows you're a nube.


  • I hate the endless bloatware. What's worse is being on Verizon and dealing with their crap too. 32gb phone comes with what feels like 16gb free. It is crazy. This is why I need a SD card expansion.


  • I understand your pain. I just uninstall and hide the apps and clear the cache etc.


  • Dean L. Feb 17, 2016 Link to comment

    Interesting read for me since I'm thinking of upgrading some time this year. I've been weighing the pros & cons of the nexus phones against LG, HTC, Samsung, etc. I now have knowledge to help me make an informed decision when I do upgrade. Thanks


    • No you don't, what has been wrote here about touchwiz is two years out of date, the new touchwiz on the new Samsung flagship phones is nothing like this,the new Samsung s7 / s7 edge has had a Google team working with Samsung on the touchwiz for a year, this report is so out of date it is unbelievable, shocking unbelievable.


    • I agree, don't make a judgement call because of this article, his opinion is based on a phone that's well out dated, touch wiz has come a long way, I have the note 5 and I absolutely love it.


  • I use Nova launcher on my S5 get the best of both worlds the Samsung hardware and apps with a cleaner home screen


  • The touchwiz of today on a Samsung 6s edge isn't the same as what was on the s4 mini to even write this report on touchwiz today is so misleading it's a joke, also the touchwiz which is going to be on the s7 edge has had a team from Google working on it for a year so what is that going to be like now.

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