Android is an open-source system. And this inevitably entails the creation of many alternative versions. Almost every manufacturer has its own Android, with its functions and features, design, icons, and applications.
Buying a new smartphone, you’ll have to get used to its operating system. Of course, you can try to install custom firmware to adapt the gadget to your needs – whether you play online casino slots for real money or work. But it’s not for everyone. So it is better to figure out which Android-based operating system you will like more before you buy another device. Let’s find out what the Android versions are and how they differ.
Clean Android smartphones will appeal to those who like to keep things tidy. You will not have to clean your device from the carefully installed applications vendors.
Standing out are Android One and Android Go. Truly pure Android is only installed on Google Pixel devices. The other manufacturers use Android One and do not hesitate to load it with their services and applications. And Android Go is a version of the operating system for budget devices. Everything unnecessary has been cut out of Go for the sake of speed, and it works quite well even on the slowest devices.
- The advantages: updates to devices from Google are released before anyone else. The interface is simple, beautiful, and not overloaded with unnecessary features. The system runs very fast and is stable.
- Disadvantages: Advanced users may miss some features. In addition, pure Android is installed only on Google Pixel devices. In the case of Android One, the release of updates is left to the manufacturers.
The shell from Samsung has a long history. TouchWiz appeared back in 2009. At that time, it was developed for Samsung’s own platform, SHP. Then, when the green robot began to take over the market, TouchWiz was ported to Android.
The creators of the shell from Samsung have always been proud of the abundance of features. Perhaps even excessive. TouchWiz has received a lot of unflattering reviews, as it managed to sag even on Samsung flagships – despite their coolest hardware. The company, fortunately, listened to criticism and gradually improved the shell, making the interface easier and boosting performance. TouchWiz has changed its name several times: first, it was renamed Grace UI, then to Clean UI, and, finally, to Samsung Experience.
Many of the features that first appeared in the Samsung shell soon migrated to pure Android. For example, themes and the ability to place two applications on the screen at once.
A distinctive feature of Samsung Experience is a bunch of native services from Samsung. For example, the Galaxy Apps app store, Samsung Health fitness tracker, and Samsung Pay payment service.
- Advantages: A lot of features. Good customizability of the shell. Useful notification panel, Smart Stay, a lot of different gestures.
- Disadvantages: Samsung services mostly duplicate the capabilities of Google, and they will be useful only for a limited number of users. The native design of the Samsung Experience is a bit on the nose. A lot of pre-installed applications can not be removed without root.
Shell from Xiaomi, deservedly very popular. And no wonder. It is very beautiful. And yet the shell has an impressive number of settings and features.
It is clear that MIUI was made with a glance at iOS – even the battery charge icon is somewhat similar. A nice feature of the system is the ability to disable the virtual buttons “Back”, “Home” and “View” to free up space on the screen. In this case, the system is controlled only by gestures. And if you get used to it, it’s very convenient.
The native MIUI apps – player, file manager, download manager – are beautiful and useful. When using them, there is no desire to replace them with something else. Perhaps the only drawback of the native file manager is the lack of synchronization with cloud storage.
- Advantages: lightweight shell and a bunch of third-party forks, thanks to which even those who do not have a Xiaomi smartphone can try MIUI. Convenient interface, theme manager design, settings are much more than in the native Android. Plus there is a built-in file manager with the function of FTP-server, blacklist calls and messages, and support for recording phone calls.
- Disadvantages: no menu of applications – all the icons are on the desktop. Fortunately, they can be hidden in folders. Xiaomi ecosystem gimmicks are needed mainly for Chinese users.
This is a shell for Huawei and Honor devices, the name of which stands for Emotion UI. Huawei is trying to develop a shell that is as easy to operate as possible and claims that you can get to 93% of the phone’s functions with EMUI in three taps at most.
The main feature of the new versions of EMUI is a kind of artificial intelligence, which maintains the performance of the smartphone at a consistently high level. The system analyzes which applications you use most often, and allocates more resources for them. Fast performance is achieved through intelligent CPU management, memory defragmentation, and GPU acceleration with built-in Vulcan support. Huawei arrogantly claims that after a year of use, the smartphone may start running even faster than it did on the first day of purchase, thanks to optimization for the user’s needs.
- Advantages: good optimization. Few built-in services from the vendor – EMUI are mainly based on native Google services.
- The downside: some of the design elements stand out from the overall style of the interface.
This is the name of the Android version that is running on OnePlus phones. OxygenOS has a very clean and beautiful interface in the style of Material Design and the soundtrack of the system is similar to Google’s Pixel Launcher. What makes OxygenOS different from pure Android is the set of small features and options that can be used to fine-tune the look and feel of the shell. Somewhat reminiscent of the famous Lineage OS.
OxygenOS has a built-in App Locker that can protect the confidential data in selected applications with a password or a fingerprint. OxygenOS Lunchbox allows customizing the look and size of icons on the home screen and applications menu.
- Benefits: fast updates. No proprietary services are imposed by the company – instead, they are native Google services. The Material Design interface is ascetic but beautiful, and all the applications – both built-in and installed by the user – look as native in it. A large number of gestures.
- The downside: some widgets for third-party applications in OxygenOS have strange behavior.
HTC’s proprietary shell is highly customizable. There’s a “Themes” app that can change the style of your home screen almost beyond recognition. And there’s Sense Companion, a personal assistant that can remind you of calendar events, tell you the weather, act as a fitness tracker, and help you optimize your phone’s performance. It’s true that this feature is only available in the HTC U series, and its learning capabilities, announced by the manufacturer, in practice are overestimated.
Another interesting HTC Sense feature is the “smartphone compression” function, which appeared in the company’s new flagship HTC U11. When you squeeze the phone in your hand, HTC Sense performs the action you set. For example, it will launch the application you’ve chosen. Otherwise, the shell from HTC is very similar to the native Android.
- Benefits: a fun smartphone compression feature. Freestyle mode allows you to flexibly customize the appearance of the home screen.
- Disadvantages: the built-in applications Sense Companion and Blinkfeed are not particularly useful. Native icons – to the liking.
Flyme for Meizu devices features its own cute design. Beautiful animations and round icons add identity to the system, although the influence of MIUI makes itself felt. Firmware features include special modes for guests and children, a branded app store and themes, as well as a built-in cleaner and optimizer. The system supports fine-tuning the power and performance of devices with Flyme.
- Benefits: the design looks unusual and fresh. Even not the newest smartphones of the company receive updates. Flyme can also be installed on smartphones, not from Meizu. True, as always, this will require dancing with a tambourine.
Disadvantages: some built-in applications look garish, and native Flyme store and does not need – there is Google Play.