Android One vs Custom Android UI: which would you prefer?

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Would you prefer your smartphone Operating System to be clean and simple, free of third-party apps, saving you quite some storage space and allowing you the choice to install whatever you want yourself? Or you rather love a feature-packed device that you basically don’t need to add much to?

Android One phones

I recall a night my memory card got bad, stripping my phone off a lot of apps. The next day seemed so far for a particular app I needed, and then it dawned on me as I asked “What is the essence of all these in-built apps that I do not ever get to use?” Well! Not everyone thinks like this.

Your answer to the above question can determine or influence the debate of having an Android One operating system or the custom Android OS.

Android is an operating system for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, and even smart TVs. It’s an open source operating system, which allows OEMs and manufacturers to make changes as they desire to the operating system. So having some more apps and ability to make theme changes, keyboard changes etc is a thing for the Android operating system.

On the other hand, Android One is known as a stock Android; a version of Android that has not been modified or retouched by manufacturers. Therefore you get a pure Android experience, with little to no third-party applications. It is up to you to install whatever apps you want.

In 2014, Google launched Android One in India. It was introduced at Google’s I/O developer conference, and the aim was to provide high quality affordable phones. They provided a simple software experience and a near-stock version of the Android operating system, and made it easily accessible.

Android One was simply launched to convert non-smartphone users to smartphone users, by giving low-end phones an operating system that can work so well with low memory and still offer a great user experience.

With this idea, Google offered a pure Android experience with the Android One. They set up also limitations done on the OEMs work, as a hardware standard for phone manufactures.

Android One is simply a Google programme created for hardware manufacturers of smartphones. It brings the most stable version of Android, with a particular requirement and standards. Android One is different from the regular Android as it is not loaded with other apps, bloatware and services. So all the apps and services other manufacturers like to put in are not allowed, giving you no option to change theme, skin, keyboard, no pre-loading Microsoft office etc, making it the purest form of Android.

So which will be preferable to use, Custom Android operating system or the Android One?

Android One

Android One phones do not come with unnecessary or unwanted preinstalled apps, which are commonly called bloatware. You will find no installs from third-party manufacturers or developers like Gameloft, which often sneak their apps or games as potential advert.

With this operating system you get only all the features supposed to come from Google. Apps like Google Duo, YouTube, Google Play Protect, Maps, Google Assistant, etc.

Xiaomi Mi A3
Xiaomi Mi A3; Android One

The Google support is magnificent, as your device receives up to two years of upgrade to the latest Android version. Since manufacturers don’t alter the software of Android One, it is easier for Google to take charge and issue upgrades. They also offer your device up to 3 years of monthly security updates.

In simple terms, this operating system is more secure or reliable in terms of security. Android One offers monthly security updates for at least three years after the phone was released. This is an improvement compared to many Android devices. So we can say using an Android One means you get quite as secure as a Pixel phone, but without having to pay too much for it.

Another advantage is bloated apps takes a portion of your overall phone memory. Android One gets you more of a smooth experience without the extra strain that custom Android put on the phone’s processor and RAM. Using a higher processor and RAM would help for better optimization for Android phones.

Advantages

  1. Gives the running App priority, which helps memory and battery.
  2. Google Assistant enabled
  3. Better Security
  4. Gives long lasting battery
  5. No bloatware
  6. Faster device due to better RAM management.
  7. Stock Android experience
  8. More available storage space

Disadvantages

  1. Not much of a quality device
  2. Software updates comes late

Custom Android UI

Having a pure clean slate phone is cool and useful in terms of the extra storage space since it is bloat-free. But what if the additional space is not an issue for you? You would love a good smartphone with so many extra features packed in the OS, which also allows better customization. This is where Custom Android UI has an advantage.

UI (User Interface) is the graphical design and touch-sensitive display on your mobile device that allows interaction between the user and device’s content and functions, e.g., apps, features.  Custom Android UI are user interface customized by OEMs, and they offer a lot more visual customizations. For instance Android One only gives room to limited customization of wallpapers and one or more other minor things, but custom UI offers more flexibility.

Samsung OneUI
Samsung OneUI

OEMs are more interested in having their own custom UI which is a modification of stock UI, giving a different feel. Examples of such UI include- MIUI (Xiaomi/Poco), One UI (Samsung), ColorOS (Oppo/Realme), XOS (Infinix), HIOS (Tecno), EMUI (Huawei) and many others.

The idea of OEMs developing their in-house UI is to offer additional features, usually more improved features. Most of the introduced features don’t even exist in stock Android; built-in screen recorder, for one (now available in stock Android 11 though). EMUI by Huawei, for instance, in its latest version added features like personal voice assistant (Celia), screen sharing on calling apps, easy PC connection, etc.

It is noteworthy to emphasize that every brand aims to offer additional values to its devices and beat the competition. So custom UI having so much bloatware is very likely. OEMs do not just create a user interface but loves to add third-party apps and adverts.

Let’s take a look at advantages of custom UI

  1. Lots of custom UIs have theme option, a re-skin of the interface. Allowing you change and switch between themes.
  2. There’s also currently no way to hide display notches in Android One, which is a common feature in custom UIs. LG even lets you choose different gradients for the notch drapes, really letting you make the phone yours.
  3. Some additional apps are helpful, like Samsung adds their virtual assistant, Bixby. Some games are also added for advertisement sake from third-parties. They may come in handy depending on the user’s preference.
  4. Custom UI is unique to a particular brand. So it makes the brand stand out.
  5. They give easy customization and additional features, like the OneUI of Samsung adds new versions of apps like Gallery, Camera, and Keyboard. They allow the changing of themes and fonts, fix bugs, enable dark mode on every app, etc.

Basic differences

Stock AndroidCustom UI
Stock Android gives a faster performance due to more space created and a one centralized system.Multitasking is a common thing in the Customized Ui, with addition of extra features and bloatware, your performance is slower.
Stock Android provides the best security; they offer constant updates and bug fixes as the purest form of Android. Google also blocks unwanted apps from loading.With Custom UIs, your phone has a higher chance of catching malware, especially in the protection against virus.
Customization and options are limited for stock Android phones. You have to use Google apps for all the default functions e.g calls, texts, camera, photos, etc.Dual UI devices like Samsung, HTC, etc. give you the room to choose between default apps of Android or the manufacturers or even keep both. With customization also possible, making you able to change theme, fonts, icons etc which is not allowed in stock Android.
You get system and security updates for two years.You get more chances for a system update here. (Samsung is offering 3 years OS upgrades for its newer phones)

Stock Android can be limited, you can’t seem to remove certain Apps and services or change some aspect of it you might want to change. This can be disturbing, while custom Ui’s give you a better customization approach. But frankly the idea of which is better is a matter of preference, as both have quite some advantages over one another.

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