Samsung’s flagship and premium devices are among the best Android phones on the market. The company’s One UI interface is a key reason behind its success, as it offers a refined UI/UX experience. Based on Android 13, One UI 5 is the next major release of the skin.
Below is a look at the top One UI 5 features and changes coming to your Samsung Galaxy phone.
Deeper Material You integration
With One UI 4 last year, Samsung integrated Android 12’s Material You design and dynamic theming. However, its implementation felt half-baked as the color palette changes did not apply to all UI aspects. That’s no longer the case in One UI 5, as the color changes are applied throughout the system, including the volume picker.
Left: Volume panel in One UI 4. Right: One UI 5’s volume panel.
Improved Dynamic theming engine
Like Android 13 on the Google Pixel phones, Samsung has improved its dynamic theming engine with expanded color support. It provides up to 16 preset color themes based on the applied wallpaper. Or you can select from 12 basic color choices, including four two-tone options.
Left: Material You color palette in One UI 4. Right: One UI 5’s Material You color palette.
Unlike Pixel phones, though, Samsung provides an option to disable the color palette in One UI 5. If you’re not a fan of the wallpaper-based theme engine, you can disable it.
Additionally, Samsung expanded app icon theming to third-party apps with its latest skin release. In One UI 4, this was limited to first-party apps. In One UI 5, applying a dynamic theme gives a more consistent experience as app icons are also themed. This is another Android 13 change that the Korean giant has seamlessly adopted in its skin.
Left: App icon theming limited to Samsung apps in One UI 4. Right: App icon theming works with third-party app icons in One UI 5.
Samsung introduced widget stacking capability in One UI 4.1. In One UI 5, it has further tweaked its implementation to improve usability. Previously, you selected the Smart Widget stack followed by its size from the widget picker and added it to the homescreen. After this, you had to long-press the Smart Widget and select the widgets you wanted to stack together. The entire process was cumbersome and unnecessarily complicated.
Samsung is making things simpler in One UI 5 by removing the “Smart Widgets” concept. Instead, you long-press a widget on the homescreen, tap the Create stack option, and select the widgets you want to stack on top of each other.
Google added multi-user support to Android with the release of Android 4.3 Jelly Bean in 2013. Nearly a decade later, Samsung is adding the feature to its Galaxy devices with One UI 5.
In One UI 5, head to Settings > Accounts and backup > Users. Turn on the option and proceed to add a new user. Every new user will get their own homescreen, log in to their Google account, and have their own set of installed apps that will not interfere with other users.
The feature will be more useful on tablets, as they are usually shared between family members or friends. You can also create a guest profile if you want to hand over your device to someone temporarily. You can switch between different users from the Quick Settings panel.
New multitasking gestures
For an improved multitasking experience, Samsung added two experimental new gestures in One UI 5. They are a part of its Labs initiative, so you need to dig deep into the Settings menu to access them.
Head over to Settings > Advanced features > Labs, where you will see two new additions: Swipe for pop-up view and Swipe for split screen. With the first gesture, you can open an app in windowed mode by swiping from the display’s upper-right corner to the middle. The second gesture allows you to quickly trigger split screen mode with a two-finger swipe-up action from the bottom of the display. Both of these gestures were available in One UI 4 through a Good Lock module.
Text recognition in the Gallery app
In One UI 5, Samsung is putting the Gallery app’s optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities at the forefront. Whenever the app detects text in a photo, a “T” icon appears in the lower-right corner. Tapping it highlights the text, which you can then copy or share.
This feature is also present in the One UI 4-build of the Gallery app but is only accessible through Bixby Vision.
Samsung has completely redesigned the Security and privacy section in One UI 5. There are no new features to play around with, but the company’s approach is similar to what you see on Pixel phones. It aims to provide a complete overview of your phone’s security status and what you can do to address any weak points or issues.
Security and Privacy are two different sub-menus in One UI 4.
Revamped Privacy tab in One UI 5.
Custom call backgrounds
You can set custom call backgrounds in One UI 5 for specific contacts. Samsung has allowed changing the call backgrounds in previous One UI versions, but you were limited to the built-in option. In One UI 5, you can select an image of your choice on a per-contact basis.
Tweaked notification panel
One UI 5 brings about some minor tweaks to the notification shade. App icons are shown more prominently, so you can quickly identify the app from which the notification was sent.
Left: One UI 4. Right: One UI 5.
Pro mode enhancements in the Camera app
Samsung has tweaked the Pro mode’s interface in the Camera app to make understanding the different options easier. A histogram also appears on the viewfinder in this mode, so you can better understand the light distribution at a glance.
Left: Pro mode in One UI 4’s camera app. Right: One UI 5’s Pro mode shows the histogram.
Jumping into the Camera app settings, you will notice a new Watermark option. As the name indicates, it automatically adds a watermark to the photos you shoot. You can include the device name, custom text, or date and time. Samsung even lets you customize the watermark’s font and alignment.
One UI 5 and Android 13 perfectly complement each other
Since One UI 5 is based on Android 13, it also packs all the new features of Android 13. This includes per-app language settings, opt-in notifications for apps, and more. If you’ve yet to get the latest Android update, here’s what you can expect with Android 13.