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Samsung One UI 2.0 review: The best (and worst) Android 10 features

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Android 10 Logo
(Image: © Android Central)

One UI 2.0 isn't a big update when you consider that it doesn't have many visual changes, but it includes a ton of features that were introduced in Android 10, including important changes to permissions, notifications, dark mode and more. Samsung also took the opportunity to make a few subtle interface tweaks as well.

The update started rolling out at the start of 2020 for the Galaxy S10 series, and was installed out of the box on the Galaxy S20 series. With millions of Galaxy phones around the world now running One UI 2.0, here's everything you need to know about the update.

Samsung Galaxy S20

Samsung Galaxy S20

The Galaxy S20 is packing all the features that you care about. The 120Hz AMOLED screen makes it an absolute joy to use the phone, and under the hood you'll find the latest internal hardware. The camera at the back has been overhauled and now comes with 8K video recording, and you get a massive 4000mAh battery.

The Android 10 basics are implemented properly

Source: Android Central

Android 10 isn't the biggest update we've seen, but makes a few important changes to the experience of how every person uses their phone every day. And Samsung did a really good job integrating Google's platform changes into its own system without feeling tacked on or out of place.

Samsung did a great job implementing Google's platform changes without feeling tacked on.

The biggest change in my eyes is the location permission model, which now lets you manage which apps can have access to your device's location — and have the crucial middle ground of "only while using the app." Samsung's implementation is the exact same as you'd find on a Pixel 4, including giving you reminders when apps have been given your location in the background with a quick option to restrict that.

Android 10's notification management has also been carried over whole cloth, giving you better management of individual notification categories in each app. This still necessitates some micromanagement of each app's notifications to get things just right, but the way Android 10 does it straight from the notification shade makes it as easy as it can be right now. And being able to explicitly silence low-priority notifications to show separately in the notification shade makes the management worth it.

Samsung has also thankfully ditched its own dark mode implementation in favor of leaning into Google's. That doesn't make a difference for Samsung's own interface elements, which all look the exact same in Android 10's dark mode as they did in Android 9, but it really matters for third-party apps and widgets. With the proper Android 10 dark mode enabled, you get an immediate flip to the dark mode version of any app or widget that properly targets Android 10 — that means no random jarring switches to bright interfaces.

Figuring out Android 10 gestures with a curved screen

The only part of the core Android 10 experience that's been a bit of a mixed bag is the new gesture system. One small peeve is Samsung for whatever reason chose to have the phone vibrate anytime you use a gesture, which is unnecessary and a little annoying considering the Galaxy S10's less-than-stellar haptics. But functionally, the issue to note here is how the side-based back gesture system combines with Samsung's aggressively curved screens.

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

The curved screen edge can make it tough to land on the actual edge of the screen as far as the software is concerned, which takes a lot of getting used to. But more frustratingly is what the back gesture zone does to your ability to slide in an edge drawer in an app, which has an even smaller detection area. It's particularly tough when you're using the phone in your right hand and trying to swipe in that drawer on the left — I basically have given up at this point and use my left hand to do so.

Unfortunately, Samsung can't do much to fix this situation — there isn't much that can be done to defeat the physics of that curved edge. It gives you the choice of using traditional back/home/recents buttons, or Samsung's pre-Android 10 bottom-bar gestures, if you'd prefer to use either of those to solve the problem. And if you do choose Android 10's gestures, you can adjust the sensitivity of the back gesture — meaning you can make the system register an edge swipe as a "back" gesture easier, but this only helps with the back gesture, and leaves the slide-in drawer issue just as bad (or worse) because its recognition area is still incredibly small.

It's something you can get used to, just like any other muscle memory change — like never touching the Bixby button, for example — on a new phone. But even after weeks of using my Galaxy S10+ on One UI 2, I still struggle to consistently get the gesture I want on the first try.

It's still Samsung software — for better and worse

Samsung One UI 2

Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

The biggest thing that will hit you when you update a Samsung phone to One UI 2 is that ... nothing really changed visually. As noted, Android 10's most notable changes are more in the experience and individual features instead of sweeping interface changes. And Samsung didn't use this update to make any big design or feature changes of its own, either.

The biggest thing you'll notice is that the general design is unchanged from Android 9.

There are subtle changes to the lock screen and always-on display, with new options to tweak the look of both. That includes getting fresh photos on the lock screen every time you turn on the screen, and better customization options for the always-on display style. And the confusingly-named "edge lighting" (which actually includes notification pop-ups) has been expanded with its own set of customization options and support for just about every app you'd want.

Nobody should expect this sort of update to bring sweeping camera quality improvements, but Samsung did make a couple changes to the camera app that improves the overall experience. You can customize the main interface by choosing which camera modes go in which places, making it easy to swap between your most-used modes while hiding things you'll never use. You can also now use the dedicated night mode with all three cameras, which is at least a small improvement to the overall experience even though Samsung's low-light quality itself isn't stellar.

There are still a lot of ways that Samsung could stand to modernize its software.

There are still a lot of ways that Samsung could stand to modernize its software, even though its interface is actually running on the latest platform version. The One UI 2 launcher still feels stuck in the past with overdone animations and clunky folders, its notification shade is a bit too spaced out with unnecessary interface elements, and you can still get stuck in multiple levels of settings pages just trying to get simple things done.

This is both good and bad, of course, because nothing can be simple when it comes to supporting a customer base this large. Samsung has to balance making improvements, which are ostensibly providing ongoing value to customers who crave getting the latest and greatest, while not rocking the boat too much for the general consumer who just wants their phone to keep working the way they expect. Hopefully a forthcoming smaller update that brings the visual changes and features launched with the Galaxy S20 can provide a nice addition to the underlying changes made in this One UI 2 release.

Battery life and performance don't take a hit

I've had a mixed history with Samsung software updates, having dealt with some that really mess with the phone's performance. A couple times the situation was bad enough to require a factory reset to sort out, which is never a fun process. Thankfully, that hasn't been the case (so far) with my Galaxy S10+.

It's always a relief when you can apply a full platform update with no ill effects.

This isn't a fresh-out-of-the-box phone, either — I've been using this GS10+ for months, and I haven't factory reset it once since getting it nearly a year ago. Even with dozens of apps installed and all of my data, the One UI 2 update slotted into place perfectly with no noticeable impact on performance or battery life.

Of course this is what you'd expect to happen, especially with a latest-generation phone, but I'm still happy to report anytime I can apply a full platform update with no ill effects. I know there are big differences in how each person has their phone set up and which apps they have installed, but I hope my experience is representative of what everyone else experiences.

One UI 3.0 is coming very soon

Samsung is now readying the One UI 3.0 update based on Android 11. One UI 3.0 promises to deliver a host of new features and tweaks to the UI, and it will offer all the new features in Android 11.

With Samsung now committing to three Android version updates for its flagships and select mid-range phones, more users will be able to receive updates for longer. If your phone is running One UI 2.0, it is likely to receive the update to One UI 3.0 once it becomes available in a few months.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

19 Comments
  • Both my Note 9 and Note 10 Plus are on Android 10 with One UI 2.0 with FULL GESTURES activated(I disliked the GESTURES feature on Android Pie). They don't (i.e NEVER)vibrate when I use them. I'm using Otter box Defender cases on them and don't have issues swiping in from the sides or scrolling sideways. The lack of uniformity concerning dark mode and certain apps is often disconcerting (eg WhatsApp). I'm exceedingly pleased that I've not had to do any hard resets after upgrading them to Android 10 but only cleared their cache. Battery life has improved slightly for both phones.
  • Mine doesn't vibrate too. I don't know what he means.
  • "Even after weeks of using my Galaxy S10+ on One UI 2, I still struggle to consistently get the gesture I want on the first try." Sounds like your gesture system needs to be revamped. I use Samsung's gestures: swipe up from bottom right for recent apps, swipe up from bottom center to go home, and One Hand Operation+ to go back. Simple, intuitive, and works 100% of the time. I also noticed better battery life on Android 10, which was a nice surprise.
  • @sublimaze I agree with you. I think the author should try one hand operation plus available on the Galaxy app store. It's made by a select group of developers within Samsung as a side project and it is an absolutely fantastic gesture-based app it blows everything else out of the water. Plus it's genuine Samsung, it's very powerful, and doesn't require root. Once you have this app, there is no reason to complain about gesture-based actions. Furthermore the only reason this app is not already pre-installed is because everyone likes to complain about Samsungs having too many options and that it needs to be more in line with AOSP Android like the pixels. (Samsungs have every UI capability of stock Android plus more things added on that you couldn't do on stock Android for years). A minimalist number of features and options may look cool to people but it is not as useful as having lots of options that you can simply toggle off if you don't want to use them. Function over form all day for me. Also with these iterative updates, everybody is always looking for changes, there has to be changes or else the device is not better is what people think. Not every area needs a revamp. Sometimes things are already working really well and don't need constant tweaking every year. Changes just for the sake of changing does not contribute to a worthwhile update. Samsung has had scrolling screenshots and a really good gesture-based one-handed mode add-on (in one hand operation plus) for a long time now and people still love to say: "oh Samsung software is still kind of bloated" - which is not true it's just laden with features that you can disable if you don't want to use them.
  • I don't get vibrations when using gestures on my Note 10+.
    Also, stuck with Samsung's gesture style vs Google's because for me, the swipe back is not great design but granted could be a curved screen issue, however I prefer my curved screen.
  • The swipe back is not great design due to Android's history of having a back button. Use an iPhone and you really see how well this can be implemented - i.e. going back or forwards in Safari. The subpar gestures on Android is one of the first things I notice whenever I go to the iPhone and then back to Android. Swiping at an angle to open a navigation drawer in an app. Swiping both right and left from the edge going "Back." No swipe gestures in apps like the Browser to go Back/Forwards. Even with the Android 10 Gestures, it feels clunky as hell to use. The app switch gesture is already in the Android Pie One UI. Swipe Right from the Home Button (why ONLY right, I dunno... that's stupid, too, especially for left handed users on big phones like the Note/S Plus).
  • Anyone giving Bixby a shot lately? I have and to be honest, it isn't perfect, but it is much improved. I also find Bixby Routines to be fantastic AI!
  • Yes I agree I am actually fairly new to Samsung and I read tons of hate against bixby but I think it's mostly because people don't understand it. Bixby works best for handling things within your phone like adjusting settings, setting up routines, in fact I used to use it very often for turning on fast charging or turning off fast charging, that capability has however been removed at least as far as Android 9. I don't leave fast charging on all the time because fast charging generate more heat and heat is not good for your battery long-term, so I only use fast-charging when I need it. Within Android 9 (and maybe others) you can even remap the bixby button easily, so I have it set to press it once and my flashlight turns on. if people really don't like bixby, turn it off. People should stop complaining about bixby when it has so many functions that hey Google can't do, like running full routines for example. The best thing I did, was before buying my first Samsung phone in 2018 I watched a few videos on YouTube about bixby because everyone was writing articles on how bad it was, those videos showed me the full capabilities of what bixby can do. it seems most people tried to treat it like a full Google Assistant replacement. Prior to having a Samsung phone, I had exclusively been using Google Assistant the Google Assistant couldn't do all of the things in settings that I wanted to do, like changing screen timeout settings just by voice (1 example of many). So now I simply use both each for their own functions that they do best. Why not right?
  • No. She's terrible. She can't even play music with the Samsung Music App. Useless to me, requires Spotify (and a Spotify Account) for this basic thing. Google Assistant will play music with Samsung Music, but I don't use that at all for [data] privacy reasons. Also, Bixby is bad for making calls. If I nickname my mother's contact entry "Mom" (in the Nickname field in the contact data) and say "Call Mom." she just pops up a choice of two contacts (my mother and another) because someone I know has "mom" as part of their email address. It's just too much work trying to use Bixby. She feels like she was designed and developed by reetards.
  • I have found also not very accurate the latest gesture actions and I had originally disable them going back to the gestures of the 9.
    However after a while I decided to enable them again , it has been hard for a couple of days but then I got perfectly adapted and I find them much more productive.
  • My S9 plus feels smoother after the update. Everything is working fine.
    I'm happy 🙂
  • I have 1 con, can't install Google Dialer. In general Samsung UI is much better then Google. Oh,also Samsung doesn't have Fast Voice typing, and for wierd reasons Google keyboard doesn't allow you to use that feature on anything but Pixel phones. It works great on Pixel 4 that I also have.
  • My brand new S10 with One UI 2 is working all great, fast and smooth but I don't like the notification shade. It just looks rubbish, much prefer Huawei Android 10 update over Samsung. My battery life has taken a hit especially on standby, it just drains too fast. Camera quality is great in sunlight but in shady areas is rather mushy in quality compared to my previous P30 Pro
  • It's annoying you cannot use Third Party launchers with the Android 10 gestures, just Samsung's gestures. The Samsung gestures are just the classic buttons without the buttons. They're pointless. I like the new Android 10 gestures but as I use Microsoft Launcher I'm forced to use the classic buttons :(.
  • Same page on this thought it was something I was doing wrong.
  • For me, also with MS Launcher, this update is [Yawn]. Thank goodness all I need to use it for is a phone and communications, instead of finding The Meaning of Life.
  • I'd say OneUI 2.0 is one of the most modern smartphone interfaces going. Nothing feels dated, any more so than Android or IOS in general.
  • It's too bloated. Really high RAM usage, which I guess is why they're putting Gaming PC RAM Capacities in their phones now. Outside of that, there is too much unnecessary duplication on these devices, and much of it is built in and tied to services that run on the phone. Some of them, I don't really mind - though duplicative (Samsung Pay, Samsung Pass, etc.) but others really need to be optional installs - not built in apps/components/services, many of which cannot even be disabled: Game Launcher, Samsung Internet, Galaxy Store, Samsung Cloud, Galaxy Themes, Bixby (somewhat - the option to remap the button without signing into her would be enough for me), Samsung Notes, Hancom Office Editor, Link Sharing, etc. In additon to that, too much feels like a billboard on these phones. Bixby has 2 advertisements that ALWAYS show up at the TOP of Bixby Home. No fail, and no way to change them or turn them off. These advertisements weren't there in Android 8.1. They started showing up after the Android Pie update on the Note 9. I cannot get rid of them. Samsung Pay only needs to be a Wallet App, like on iPhones - or more like Google Pay, at least. Instead, it feels like an app incarnation of Fingerhut magazine. Same with Samsung Themes, the Game Launcher, and a lot of stuff. Samsung advertises more to you on their devices than Google does. After getting an iPad and being "reintroduced" to the Today Screen (no Ads, only MY stuff there), Siri (know my mom from someone with the letters "mom" in their email address when I say "Call Mom"), and the fact that Apple's devices has sane Auto-brightness that adjust almost in real time with basically no impact to your battery (because it calibrates nicely to ambient lighting - the iPhones are like this, as well), I'm really souring quickly on my Note 9. I haven't thought this hard about getting rid of it and going back to the iPhone since I purchased it. I think I'm going back to the iPhone, anyways, since they removed Video Pro Mode but didn't implement Camera2 fully/well - so there are not good 3rd party video recording apps on Android for this phone. I'd rather use an iPhone with FiLMiC Pro, which is AMAZING on that platform/device. Samsung is not adding this feature back, especially with them using it as a marketable feature for the Galaxy S20. Ever since Android Pie, my battery seems to drain 1% per 1.5 minutes of web browsing on this phone with Auto Brightness on. I'm pretty sure the shoddy new Google Auto-Brightness Algorithms are part of this issue, but I'm not interested in manually managing power on a device that is supposed to simplify my life. I'd rather get rid of it and replace it with something that I know will work well, there.
  • Personally, I'm enjoying the Gesture Navigation on my Pixel 4 XL. I've gotten so used to the gestures that trying to use 3-button navigation (often when trying to help a friend with their phone) seems clunky, out-dated and less intuitive to me. Best advise for gesture navigation - for menu access, try swiping up on a 45 degree angle from bottom 1/3 left side to top right side. This opens the menu without triggering back gesture. For multi-tasking, swipe up from anywhere on the screen and pause to open. This prevents accidentally opening the app drawer.