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Stock Android really isn't all that great

In the world of Android, one point of contention that comes up more often than just about anything else is the endless debate over "stock Android." Starting first with the Nexus line and then continuing with Pixel phones, the software that's on Google-made gadgets is seen as a representation of what Google thinks Android should look and feel like — a stock, default setup.

Manufacturers such as LG, HTC, and others often place their own skin on top of Android to give it a unique twist, and ever since Android has been a thing, there's been a debate about Stock Android vs. OEM Skins.

Stock Android usually comes out on top as the winner, but according to some AC forum users that have been playing with the Galaxy Note 9, the whole stock software experience may not be all that it's cracked up to be.

Hey, All, After rooting and modding Android devices for the past Decade, it's nice to see that the OS has matured to a point where messing around with is isn't necessary like it once was to get the features I liked. Starting with the Nexus line, I once thought that stock android was the way to go for pure power, and the Pixel predecessor (specifically the Pixel 2XL) also had me thinking...

KillerQ

Yip. "Stock" Android is a white elephant these days. Why would anyone want less features? Anyone who uses the word "bloat" is an *****. They really do need to try a modern OEM device.

mgbosshogg

I've used Samsung for years, can't stand stock Android. Most of the new features that Google adds Samsung already has, so I see little benefit from getting the latest version of Android faster. I still get security updates almost monthly for 3 years.

L0n3N1nja

I'm definitely not a fan of "stock" to get the functionality of the Samsung experience you would have to download a bunch of 3rd party apps.

ZOMMBIE1

What do you think? Is stock Android better than manufacturer skins?

Join the conversation in the forums!

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

152 Comments
  • Uh oh . . Now you've done it . . 🙄
  • Some people like Samsung's stuff, some people prefer Google, and others deviate from both to get what they want. Some people just buy iPhones. You do you. Why argue about it?
  • I do wish Samsung, LG, etc. would offer their flagship phones with an Android One option. As I understand it there is a fee associated with Android One, but I wouldn't be averse to paying a reasonable amount to cover that incremental cost.
  • Yeah suckers that either have plenty of money to waste or simply aren't savvy enough to try and customise their phone, incase they "break it". So they let their daddy "Apple" tell them how things are meant to be done, and that they are holding their phone wrong. Apple users. lol.
  • i think people aren't attracted to stock Android because of features. the attraction to stock is for quick updates and less lag.
  • +1 I like how it looks as well though, but as you said main advantages are updates and no lag.
  • Less Lag? Have you seen the videos on the Pixel 2 slow down after a few months? OnePlus holds up better in the long run.
  • Have you seen all of the videos about Samsung lag or LG lag lol. The pixel has held up way better then those devices. Most people barely use all of the features on Samsung devices. The skins are way too heavy the unnecessary redundancy in having a Google contacts app, photos, dialer, app store and music apps then Samsung adding their junk on top which is totally useless. Samsung needs to clean up it's OS allot and learn to provide updates in a timely fashion. I have a 2 xl and note 8 and the note 8 is garbage and sitting around somewhere.
  • Every device has a certain percentage of users with issues, it's just that barely anyone uses stock Android so if 10 percent of pixels or nexuses lagged and 2 percent of galaxies lagged it would still seem like more galaxies lagged. Android in general was pretty terrible up until marshmallow but since then lag has been a thing of the past for the vast majority of users but galaxies give you capabilities that only the iPhone offers and more and there are all these things that stock don't get for 4+ years like how stock only recently began working on zero latency pro audio. Something that galaxies have had since the note 4. And only Apple and Samsung devices are secure enough for high security clearance.
  • I call it BS, I have over 170 apps installed on my Pixel 2 XL and rarely experience any lag, only sometimes when doing OS updates or when I leave a couple of days without checking and do 30 app updates in a row... Loving the Pixel 2 XL experience and prompt updates...
  • Have mine almost a year....no lag
  • What slowdown? My Pixel still smokes all the Samsungs for speed
  • Yeah, the tenth of a second makes all the difference!!
  • We received an update yesterday that seems to solve all the problems that we are suffering .For now is going very well
  • If the quick updates don't bring significant features, then why are the OS updates important at all? As a former Nexus user and current Samsung user I can enjoy some features the Pixels would only have by 3rd party apps or future updates.
    I get monthly security updates most of the time so the quick updates are definitely there., my phone only lags on full OS updates
  • Eh, Security, Stability, Bug Fixes? Also, of course they bring new features, the upgrade to Pie I installed last month brought a bunch of them, most notably a huge improvement in Battery Life and SOT...
  • Saying OS updates aren't important unless they bring new features would be like saying why change the oil in the car if it's not going to give me a navigation maps update
  • Exactly. And simplicity with the ability to add as much or little customization to it. Not have it forced upon you.
  • my pixel 2 is slower and lags more than a note 8
    because Android sucks at mms I went iPhone. my pixel 2 collects dust
  • Only phone nerds were drooling on stock. Average user doesn't even know what version of Android his/her phone has.
  • Stock or stockish. No over the top skins
  • Truth
  • Yeah, nothing wrong with OEM....once you download a package disabler and disable voice assistants, duplicate photo galleries, video galleries, duplicate web browsers, and sms apps. The just install a a third-party launcher so you get rid of the quirks most OEMs tend to have. Oh, and a status bar app or skin to get rid of the ugly OEM/carrier status bar icons.Dont forget to ditch the horrible OEM keyboard as well! And that list has always gone on for me. I'm so happy with the software of the Pixel 2 XL. The only things that make me even follow or consider other devices are hardware design or camera capability. But starting out on a version of Android that's already a year old or months behind on security patches also sucks. I thought Android One would be an amazing thing, instead all we seem to get is mid range phones that just aren't up to flag ship level with a nice clean Android version. Hardware design and camera ability with a few small features should be all that's needed to differentiate phones.
  • As a current Samsung user, what did it for me was basically replace the At&t ROM with the factory unlocked one, so I got rid of the At&t bloatware. I'm fine with Samsung Experience, it's far from bad nowadays.
    Other than that I was fine with the Samsung specific apps. I like Samsung's gallery, Music, Callendar and Internet more than Google's own apps, so I disabled Photos, Play Music and Google Calendar. The only app I still have duplicated are Gmail and Samsung Email, the latter one is my go to choice for the work's email.
  • Lol. Stock is better because you can add features that you like. You aren't saddled with a crap ton of stuff you will never use. It is more efficient.
  • And adding those features usually involves paying for apps or dealing with ads from those apps.
  • LOL, paying? If you're a Samsung user, you've already paid for that stuff with the absurdly high price of their phones.
  • And you think the Pixel is that much cheaper??
  • Bull
  • Agree that other OEM's have had more features well ahead of stock android. The issue I had was the loads and loads of bloat that I did not want from these OEM's; namely Samsung. I went to stock android so I could pick the apps that I wanted. This was a time when 16 and 32 GB of storage were common. Nexus and Pixel phones just grew on me. Don't get me started on waiting for an update... I primarily use an iPhone these days, but still have a Pixel XL. Might check out the pixel 3 later this year.
  • After years of having iPhones, I opted to by an unlocked S8 last year. I've been happy with the device so far, no regrets. I was also tempted by the Pixel 2, however really wanted the expandable storage and headphone jack. Every time I go to Best Buy, I play with the Pixel 2 XL on display and agree that the phone has a smoothness to it, however it seems lacking for its price point. I will admit I'm perplexed about the gripes about the slowness of the annual OS updates with Samsung. Earlier this year, I found myself getting impatient waiting for Oreo (after reading comments on this website) and when I received Oreo, the changes were so underwhelming! Sure, there were a few changes to the settings and it seemed a bit more refined than Nougat. I thought to myself, all that hype over the slowness of the OS update for this??? Many of the new Oreo features were already on my S8 with Nougat. I may buy a Pixel one day to see if I like it, however I'm not in a rush because other than the annual and monthly updates, I really haven't heard anything convincing over what stock android really provides over the OEMs. I'm not convinced that all OEM skin is bloat.
  • Right there with you. I have am S8+ and am loving it. I get monthly security updates (always have), oreo was underwhelming in every way except for speed. It brought a smoothness that nougat didn't have. Many speculated that the blame was on the Samsung experience 8.0 (the s8's nougat config) while the experience 8.5 and 9.0 fixed it. Pixel devices are nice but lacking in hardware for the price. You can almost always add apps to get features. But you cant just add hardware.
  • Totally agreed. As long as security updates come every 1 or 2 months (which they do) I'm fine with Samsung's UI
  • You should try the OnePlus 6. It's even better than the Pixel
  • The advantage of stock is that it can get Android updates quicker. Since manufactures like Samsung put their own skin on, it takes longer to update Android
  • You're what is known as the guinea pig.
  • I prefer stock, but only because I don't need all of the features you get with other phones. I like the simple, easy to use software and I know exactly what I'm getting with it. If I need features, I'll find a launcher that adds it.
  • I don't know of any launchers that add Samsung's features.
  • I am going to agree. In the past I liked Google's version of "stock" Android which isn't really stock if you think of stock as AOSP. It's basically Google's own skin. However, Google is very amateur in how it handles its operating system UI. The Pixel 2, for example, doesn't have a notch. However, Google has programmed Android 9 to treat the phone as if it has a notch. It forces the clock into the notification area on the left which is very distracting and it truncates real notification icons essentially treating my phone as if it has a notch. This means the center area of my display goes unused while the left notification area remains cluttered at all times. I do not think Samsung would program its operating system like that and force a particular UI design onto a phone that doesn't require it.
  • Samsung have taken it a step further with hardware buttons that force you into their desired assistant.
  • Such an outdated argument with the Bixby button. It can be disabled in the phone settings, and there are numerous apps that will remap the button.
  • It can be disabled in the Bixby settings. Not the device settings. Just to be clear. Not trying to flame.
  • I think the option to disable has actually been removed in the latest version shipped with Note 9... No doubt that will cascade to rest of bixby devices.
  • Now there's talk that Samsung may give Note 9 users the ability to disable Bixby with a future update.
  • Suprise suprise, that's Android 9, and YES Samsung will implement that, because that's Android 9 no matter how you spin it. Pie on Galaxy will function nearly the same as it does on stock, but with a different look.
  • What a shock that people who have spent $1000 on one of the more heavily skinned phones would dislike more stock versions of Android, couldn't be any bias. Google's version is bad and getting worse though... Stock used to be a blank canvas you could customise yourself, but Google is showing it hates customisation and slowly killing it. I wish these lazy forum comment pulls were marked so I could not click them.
  • I paid $99 for my S8 (carrier sale, shortly before the S9 came out). Samsung's inbuilt theming engine allowed me to install a dark, high-contrast theme that makes it easy on the eyes. With the added contrast, I prefer Samsung's keyboard to Google's (now using Swift, however, for its arrow keys). I use Samsung's email app for work, and prefer it to Gmail for that purpose prefer Gallery to Photos, except when. searching for a specific image. I use Chomp SMS over either Android or Samsung messaging apps because it allows me to respond to an email from myock screen, and is far more customizable. I have received security updates, on average, about a month behind their release by Google (on September 4, I received the August security update). I use Smart Launcher, but that's the only third-party Launcher I have on my phone. Samsung Experience, with ginlemon's Smart Drawer, is perfectly fine, we're I to want a more "stock" experience. (Even if I had a stock Android phone, I'd install Smart Launcher; it's the way I prefer to interact with my phone.) Yes, some apps are duplicated, but once my base phone storage hit 64GB, that ceased to be an issue.
  • Finally. After trying phones by every manufacturer, I actually prefer Samsung default apps over Google and others. The camera app, messanges, email, gallery, all superior. SPen is super handy. Different strokes for different folks; some people like featureless, boring apps. Lol.
  • I also like that Samsung includes the Google apps with theirs. The user isn't forced into using Samsung apps if they don't want to.
  • Oxygen OS is the perfect intermediate between stock and overly featureful phones. Other phones will get laggy after 2-3 years while my 5t will probably stay good for longer than that.
  • There's a way forward, as far as updating to the latest Android release, and it's called treble. The problem is that it doesn't seem like the biggest fish in the pond (Samsung) has any interest in supporting it.
  • I thought if a phone came with Oreo pre-installed that it had to support treble? My V30 was upgraded to Oreo, so I'm not sure, but I thought I read that.
  • I could be wrong, but I thought it was mentioned in the review for the S9+ that it does not have project treble.
  • I've been saying "stock" Android has been overrated for years now. Great article!!!!!
  • For features, yes "stock" Android is going to seem a wee bit underwhelming because Google is not trying to create a handset-specific differentiator and OEMs are. You'll always get more "flash" from manufacturers putting a skin with AI-this or that on it. The flip side is that you have to continually tell your phone WHICH default dialer, gallery, browser, etc. you want to use. And Google updates their apps far more than any manufacturer does their skins. All that really matters is if you can truly make the phone your own. Some manufacturers, unfortunately, still block lockscreen access or bootloader access or don't let you delete their apps if you so choose. THAT is the problem.
  • What is a feature to one is bloat to another. The more features on top of the OS, the longer it takes for updates and the sooner updates stop thanks to lack of carrier approvals--which does have some affect even on unlocked phones due to the numbers game. If Google followed Microsoft's lead in selling OEM devices with a stock OS, I'd maybe have a Samsung phone instead of a Pixel 2 XL.
  • Windows totally different proposition than Android. Windows is a licensed product - so is locked down and only availble for sal in that state. Android is open sourced and if you want access to play store you just need to do a few things but can change the whole look and feel if you want - which OEMs will do in an attempt to differentiate.
  • I've had HTC and Samsung and then a 6P and now Pixel XL. I prefer stock. I would rather add the features I want than accept ones that I don't want or need.
  • If I had a dollar for everyone I knew who had a Samsung phone that got annoyed with it and switched to an iPhone I'd be rich. In my own experience with Samsung devices (currently have an S7 as a work phone), and family that still have Samsung devices, none of them are happy with them. People don't switch from Android to iPhone cause they want to have a custom OEM skin on their phone, they switch because the OEM experience is crap. Stock Android is the most similar you'll get to an "iPhone like" experience in functionality and not getting in your way too much. And better yet, go with a vendor that makes subtle improvements on stock Android and it gets even better. Stock and OEM skins cater to different people, so I wouldn't necessarily say one is "better" than the other. In my experience OEM skins have slowed down the phone and not added enough functionality to merit the performance hit, and not to mention the long wait times for updates waiting for the OEMs and carriers to get the update out, while stock tends to be the first with updates. iPhones aren't successful because they have fancy skins. They have a simple, fast, consistent design philosophy that caters to a lot of people. This is what I believe stock Android, or the Pixel experience is attempting to achieve on the Android side.
  • I couldn't agree more, I've used both the iPhone and Samsung phones, the simple nature of the iPhone is what everyone likes about the iPhone. I love using stock Android if there is a feature that I need I will download it.
  • I'd like to see how these Note 9 people are holding up a year from now. My father has had an S8 for a year and a couple months now and the phone is damn near unusable with how laggy it is. That just doesn't happen with stock. Samsung can keep all it's useless extra features.
  • Weird that cos my partner got the S8 on the day of release and experiences no lag! Likewise with my S7 although showing its age with dimished battery life and the odd scratch and dent, doesn't have an appreciable lag neither.
  • Tell your dad to use the app Greenify. It shuts down the background process and apps that Android won't. In my experience, Android is terrible and shutting down background processes and preventing them from restarting. Fitbit is a huge offender. He could occasionally use the included device management tool. TL;DR: It's the Os and not the hardware causing the issue. The Pixel 2 also suffers slow down.
  • I do factory resets at least twice a year. It's sort of a pain but worth it.
  • While stock is barren and desolate (especially on budget phones that obviously are fine with straight up aosp), Samsung's TouchWiz and their KNOX have infuriated me for years. There's got to be a balance in-between, which I'm glad to say some oems have that (Oneplus's Oxygen comes to mind). But Samsung and to a lesser extent LG have been ruining people's perception of Android for years. All the apple users that I'm friends with my age told me that when they got their first phone it was some kind of Android (around the gingerbread era). Almost all of them complain about how laggy it was, and it would always crash or the battery sucked. You know what devices a majority of then used? Samsung devices. The only exception was someone had used an htc. Pretty much every one I know who has left the Android ecosystem by choice has said they were on some Samsung phone, or other heavily modified version. I mean it's bad when a lot of my co-workers who have iPhones don't see Android as Android, but see "apple, Samsung, LG, Google, and Android". That's embarrassing. I mean if somebody wants those features, then they should go for it. But stock just offers a cleaner experience for a lot of people, and apple switchers really seem to respond to that.
  • That was the case back then. I saw how everyone had the cheapest Android phone they could get and complained about it. So going to iPhones was like night and day. But that is just not the case nowadays. And most people who still experience this are tech dumb anyways and don't know how to keep their devices running smoothly. 99% of the people who ask me to look at their slow phone have never updated it at all, All the apps and the OS have never been updated.
  • I have both a Note 8 and an Essential Phone. My SIM pretty much stays in the Essential. It's just a more fluid and enjoyable experience for me. The Note 8 has some great features, absolutely. But at the end of the day, I just value the snappier experience that stock gives me, and I like the feeling of building my device up to the way I like it, rather than having to jump through hoops to hide or disable the stuff I'm not interested in.
  • I been saying that for the longest ... I'll take Samsungs heavy rich features /gimmicks / double gallery/ ect. over stock any day. And I don't mind being behind on software updates so long as its more stable than having the constant push of increment updates to fix stuff.
  • Lmao yeah ok then. I'd rather install exactly what I NEED on the cleanest build than deal with all the crap other oems bring. Each to their own I guess.
  • Android stock is tame and boring, could never get the grip of it.
    While Samsung has lot of unnecessary apps, the one that replace Android defaults, are better than the stock, especially camera app.
    However, I would prefer EMUI over both, yes it's wierd, but it gotten very good with 8.0 ans even better with 9.0.
  • There are good arguments for both sides. I do think Samsung goes a bit to far with duplicate apps but as long as they put enough storage in their phones thats ok. It really isn't ok on phones with 16 or 32 gbs. I do however think 2 browsers is going to far. Just use Chrome and if some people want something else they can add it themselves. Some google apps get on my nerves. I prefer LGs version for many of them. Most of them in fact. But I really like the Chrome browser and the Google assistant.
  • On my laptop chrome all day, but on mobile Samsung internet smokes chrome. Faster, less resource hungry and the ad blocking is outstanding.
  • Samsung doesn't add duplicate apps. Samsung has their own, arguably better, and is forced to install Google's. Except Samsung browser, far better than chrome.
  • Stock is corny. I cant/wont but an android phone that comes with stock. It's just super boring to me and surely I'm not spending a lot of money for some "updates" that are mostly incremental and take months to hit your phone anyway(no matter if you're the first person in the world to get it, major updates dont get released every week)
  • I've loved Oxygen OS: very close to stock with meaningful additions. Even getting bonus Pie on my 3T, so I'm pleased with OP's update schedule.
  • You're seriously basing your entire article on 4 random user comments? Journalistic integrity truly is dead.....
  • I think it's possible that those 4 quotes were just a sample of opinions rather than the complete list of everyone ever who doesnt rate stock Android... Take a look through the comments, you'll find plenty of others sharing that view.
  • It's why I have a Note 8 and a Pixel 2 XL. There's times I feel Samsung is a little heavy handed with the skin, and I miss Stock. But other times I miss some of Samsungs features, especially specific to the Note 8. So I switch back and forth. I used to HATE OEM skins, but they are getting quite good now.
  • In the last few years I've had a Samsung Galaxy S8, LG G3, and a Nexus 6P. I'll easily take stock Android over what Samsung and LG puts out for software. The vast majority of the features that the S8 or G3 have/had that weren't on stock Android were stupid crap I didn't want in the first place or rarely ever used. Not to mention all the bloatware that I can't uninstall or disable or having to wait half a year or more to get the latest version of Android.
  • Will first off you actually have to know how to use Google inorder to access all the features. Stock Android is actually feature packed for those who are not lazy.
  • And there lies the problem, and why iPhone rules. You pick it up, it tells you exactly what to do easily. Samsung and LG are better than Google at this.
    People (the far majority) want to pick a phone and use it, eazy peazy. Unless you like the flashing 12:00 on your VCR.
    My brother switched from an S7 too Moto Z, he immediately said the fingerprint scanner was better, simple to use, no extra fluff.
  • I don't get the complaints about bloat. I have a Note 9. There's no lag. Why people keep repeating this, I'll never know. I think they just parrot what others say without any intimate knowledge. The Note line hasn't had lag for years. None. Bloat? On a phone with 512gb of storage who cares about bloat? I use Nova launcher and never even see the bloat. It's NOT an issue. Too many features? Really? My dad used say that about automatic door locks in cars. "Son, that's a feature you don't need. Just something more to break." You complainers sound a lot like my dear late father. He hated change too.
  • Every Samsung I Beta Tested back when I was a tech ended up becoming my daily driver. I also enjoyed the simplification that my Nexus unit that year had as well. Eventually though, after 35+ tester units a year, and the more junk, crap and bloat Samsung, piled on top of their S line and note line, plus what LG, ZTE, HTC, and etc added to their units, the more I enjoyed the simplification of whatever Android had in a Nexus that year. Eventually that was what won me over and I continued on with the pixel line because of this, especially now that I'm no longer in that business and pony up my own money for the phones. I just add what I want and never worry because what Google has is tweeked perfectly for my tastes and use.
  • I agreed. Stock Android is like plain vanilla. A little bit of customization is always good.
  • Slow news day, huh? *gasp* people on a forum site for a non-stock phone support said non-stock Android.... Ground breaking. Everyone has different preferences. It is astounding the tiniest detail that will sway some people to buy a phone. The great thing about the Android market is you have choices.
  • You nailed it.
  • This article is lame. The individual user experience is what he or she determine whats best for their needs. This is why I have to give apple credit at times, keep the os close.
  • I love my Samsung 'bloat'. The edge apps, ability to extract text and translate with bixby vision are remarkable. Couldn't be without them now.
  • "I love my pixel 2 xl, it's the best, stock android is way better than the laggy crap thats on galaxy devices" IN before beno could post it ha ha ha !
  • Anyone heard from beno? I miss his GSheep talk.
  • I haven't heard from him lately. Hope he's ok...
  • Ha ha....for sure. He's probably just in his mothers basement jerking off to his amazing pixel 2 xl.
  • While not perfect the UX and UI design blows everyone else out of the water. I know a lot of people don't care (or have poor taste) but "stock" looks soooo much better than anything else out there. For something I'm going to be looking at and using all the time; having a clean, simple, and good looking UX and UI is extremely important. Same thing for apps. I'll gladly pay almost any amount for a well designed app I use a lot vs. an ugly one that's free and/or ad supported.
  • Not liking stock is missing the point. Stock is boring because it is a blank slate on which I can layer my own launcher, my own themes and such. If I want it to look like Samsung I can. If I want it to look like iOS (ew!) I can. If I don't want the 47 extra pieces of **** apps that Samsung or VZW adds, I don't have to have them but by god if I'm dying to install VZW navigator, I can install it on my own if I want.
  • Stock Android worked for the Nexus line, clean, fast and at a great price. It doesn't work with the overpriced Pixel line. Less features for more money, doesn't make sense. Also Samsung is producing some great software at a time that Google is disappointing.
  • Samsung has pretty good disappointments out there, lets now kid ourselves on that. LOL.
  • makes no difference with me. I use smartlauncher5 pro on my note 8. imo, the only real advantage for stock android is it gets updated faster.
  • Pixel 2 for me. No bloatware other than Google collecting everything I type or say. 😲
  • I'm pretty sure those happen with the bloated phones, as well. ;-)
  • As long as my phone runs my apps without problem then I don't really care anymore. OEM's skins this days are pretty light and the raw specs are enough to run things fluidly unlike a few years ago. It really just comes down if you prefer quick updates over features.
  • I am not even going to read the rest of the comments... WHAT. Besides the fact that this is just nuts. Either you or everyone I am sure most that commented after using any recent Samsung device came from an iPhone. I never comment on these articles and normally consider them as BS articles usually chalking them up as a learning curve for someone trying to begin journalism. Trying to say that Stock android is really nothing great... is like saying the wheel does not make a difference or knowing that the sun in the center of the solar system is not a big deal. Even Sir Issac Newton is rolling over in his grave with that single comment you dare utter.... :-)
  • I hate to be THAT GUY (not really), but the sun isn't actually the center of the solar system. That award belongs to the barycenter.
  • Color me middle of the road: I don't like a ton of stuff I don't use and can't get rid of, but "stock" Android is like a car with no air conditioning and crank up windows. I like a balance of features without going overboard. That being said, I miss the HTC in-house apps that many people referred to as bloatware. They were better than the Google versions.
  • I'd rather have a Ferrari over a Yugo.
  • There's benefits to stock Android and skinned android. I prefer close to stock Android but if an oem has a good skin I won't mind using it. The top 3 oem skins for me are
    1.Huawei
    2. Meizu
    3.Xiaomi.
    The top three stock/close to stock Android are
    1. Pixel
    2. Sony
    3. OnePlus.
  • HTC have the best. It could do with a refresh but with regards to near stock and no bloatware it is the best.
  • So true - story - bro !
  • I know OnePlus isn't quite 'stock', but boy it is massively less bloated than Samsung devices - had SGS3/4/5/7 but delighted with improvement in battery life with the change!
  • Agreed. I've never been more satisfied with a device. I can still use Samsung Pay with my watch as well.
  • Did Beno get booted I miss him ?
  • Yup, comment section isn't as hilarious without him.
  • I came into these comments just for his posts :( can't believe they kicked him! maybe he'll come back under a different name.
  • WOAH really? where was his epic meltdown? He was getting heated at me ALOT.
  • I saw a googlemcgsheep floating around here, maybe thats him ha ha. Or was it Gsheepy mcsheepface?
  • I think the yearly software updates are slightly overrated. As long as my phone works, if the update doesn't bring better battery life...this guy isn't interested.
  • Finally this. This has always been the case. I've used Samsung devices since I had the Galaxy S3 because I liked it better than any other Android experience. Except I would get yelled down by trolls telling me I'm wrong if I said that. Look, you can compose your emails in vim if you like but the vast majority of users prefer the Samsung experience and always have.
  • I was a long-time stock Android guy, but once my MotoX Pure Edition took a crap I decided to switch up to Sammy with the S8. I HATE this phone. I've had more dropped calls and issues with MMS then I ever did with any stock Android phone combined. That along with the lag on this phone, this is WITH root and Greenify etc installed and running. Yeah, this phone is prettier, has a meh camera, and meh apps. The only thing I like about this is the notification LED that runs the outer-part of the screen when you get text messages, etc. This thing is junk. Coincidentally, I have started having issues with my Sammy 4KTV with lag and random power issues and force closing of Netflix, etc. They FORCE all this bloat bullshit I don't want or need on the phone and the TV, and you have to live with it. Excuse me? I just paid $1000 for this POS phone, I should be in control of what I WANT on the phone. Not the other way around. I'm never going to use the stupid "Samsung themes, Samsung +, Smart Switch, your ****** out-dated text message app that doesn't allow emojis, etc. Pixel 2 needs to hurry up and go on sale, like yesterday.
  • You can switch
  • That's Samsung's problem, not really a stock vs skin issue. My numerous Huaweis have all been massively better than stock, smooth and fluid even after years+great signal.
  • Any recommendations for disablers and launchers please? Just got a Note 9 and I want to optimise it.... I'm in the UK if that makes a difference. Cheers
  • I have to say I like stock Android better than OEM, but I have never owned a Samsung device... Based on what I have seen about the Note 9, maybe Samsung finally got it right
  • Stock Android may not be all that great, but proprietary customizations tend to be bloatware that can't be removed, or alternatively they just reinvent the wheel and paint it in different colors.
  • Is this still Android Central? Or is it Samsung Central now? It feels like everywhere I navigate AC is prmotoing Samsung products. Hell, even the search bar on the front page suggests that you search for a Galaxy S9. What gives?
  • It's just like when you go to AT&T's web site or visit their store, you would think that they only sell iPhones. They are following the money. The problem with this site doing that, is that they move away from their mission to be all about Android. I have owned 2 Samsungs, and I can't think of a reason to own another one. They are fine phones, but their over-inflated price makes them not worth it. Anymore now people buy them because of brand recognition.
  • Stock is like a bare canvas to a painter, sure the material is there, but it’s what you can create from it that’s so important with the right brushes(tools). You don’t have to paint over anything, or cover up, clean slate.
  • Security Updates. Security Updates. Security Updates. That is why stock Android is best. The more that you add software on top of the base that updates must cover, the slower the updates come. This is the key deficiency of Android vs IOS and Windows Phone.
  • For many, including myself, the draw of stock Android has always been about performance. The manufacturer's customizations may be pretty and cool, but they eat up valuable processor resources. Early smartphones from Samsung were hogs. They were slow and clunky, and the OS took up a lot of valuable storage space. Stock Android is lightweight in all areas. It is more responsive, and has the features that most users need. I have more space for my music and pictures, and my phone responds to every command with lightning speed.
  • No SD card.....
  • I'll never own an iPhone or a Pixel for that very reason. I want to carry as much media as I can, and hot swap on the fly. Just give me 64+GB internal storage space for applications. Media stays on the card.
  • I like turtles
  • Lol Same man. But made by Samsung
  • Such a silly article. One of the main pillars of Android is choice. The only "better" is what's the best experience for the individual user and their preferences.
  • I fully agree with you.
  • There wouldn't be any of this fighting over which is best if people actually realized that Android/Linux just like GNU/Linux available on the desktop PC, is a variety of distributions (Distros). On PC we choose what distro we want, some are rolling updates Distros, some get new version every 6 month to a year and others are LTS, and they get a new version every 5 years. Love it or hate it but Samsung's Experience/ formerly TouchWiz is one of the largest by mindshare/volume Distros in the Android world. And just like in the GNU/Linux world, choose what works for you. Of course I'm aware that the Android/Linux system is defined a lot by the hardware you've chosen at the beginning mostly, but then that the nature of Android/Linux ecosystem, unlike GNU/Linux.
  • To each their own but this article made me a little nauseous haha. I was a long time Galaxy user (Note 3, S7, S8) and left Sammy for the Motorola G5 Plus. What a breath of fresh air it was to leave Samsung's glitchy UI. Currently on the Essential Phone running Andoid 9/Pie and couldn't be happier. Essential Phone and S8 has same processor (Snap835) and the Essential Phone absolutely smokes the S8 in everyday routines
  • I'll bet you love the quarter second improvement, huh?
  • I personally like both. Stock is great in particularly for "aesthetic" purposes and keeping everything minimal. But the additional features of some of these skins (Samsung &LG) can be pretty nice. I just disable all the stuff I won't use. It takes like 3 minutes to get them all done.
  • Exactly. All have their strengths in different regions especially. For example I'm in South Africa and until the HMD/Nokia devices recently, there was no stock Android to Ben choose. now there is Xiaomi and Nokia and possibly LG G6 One to provide stock. Meaning that the choice in a lot of countries is between these so called heavily skinned phones.
  • I'll stick with my OnePlus 6.......
  • I'm a really open person and like to use everything, to experience new stuff. I've been playing with the Note 9 a lot for the past few days and it's easily the best phone I've used to date, period. Samsung Experience is absolutely amazing. I'd take it over Stock Android anyday. I like to think that Stock Android is the best thing to have on low-mid range devices where as OEM skins are the best if you can afford the top of the line devices. That's my take on it.
  • Many of the features of "stock android" that tech nerds rave about now, came from manufacturers like samsung, LG, HTC etc. I agree stock is very overrated, the one benefit I see to a Pixel device is timely updates, but even a company as small as Essential has shown that timely updates are possible.
  • I've been using Huawei phones for about three years now. I try Nova from time to time for that stock feel, but I always go back to EMUI. I have everything tucked into five neat little folders on my main home screen, with my five most used applications on the bottom. I have everything on that one page. Nice and neat. No app drawer. I did eventually add Event Flow on a second screen for a full screen monthly calendar widget at a glance. Fully transparent so it doesn't hide my wallpaper. That and the stock Huawei clock and weather widget are the only widgets I need. It's all very clean and neat.
  • EMUI? Might as well use iOS, instead of a crappy knockoff designed for Chinese consumers for whom Apple is still a class/status signaler.
  • EMUI is way better than crappy iOS or stock. No one even cares about Crapple in China anymore.
  • Hey Joe reinstate BENO he was harmless and fun!!!!
  • Hey...where's Beno? These forums are a bore without him.
  • Yes, watching him twist and spiral down the sheep hole was entertaining for sure. Calling me, someone who has 7 phones running 3 different os systems an isheep, was classic however. Dumbass.
  • This is one of the great things about Android--CHOICE. Personally, I love "stock" Android. I see all the crap...err...stuff that Samsung puts on their phones as unnecessary bloat. If I want any of those extra features, I can install an app for that. Obviously not everyone agrees, and prefer Samsung and all the extras they provide. To each his own! Skin, stock/no skin, S-Bloat, no S-Bloat... etc. What was Google's ad campaign a few years ago---"Be Together... Not the Same"? WE can do that. iPhone users can't.
  • Completely disagree. I switched over to Android with Galaxy S8, I then bought an Essential and finally Pixel. I will never NEVER buy another Samsung. They fill it with bloat, force you into their system/services and their add ons site the phone considerably.
  • Now we need a "Heavily skinned Android really isn't all that great" article to counter this one.
  • Neo, I think there many of those now. Ha ha ha.
  • EMUI is much better than ugly, boring, featureless stock, for those using Samsung and experiencing lag it's Samsung's problem, not a stock vs skin issue. Huaweis don't lag my Huaweis are still smooth as day one even after years.