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Explained: Top Android Skins with Pros and Cons

Android Skins
Android skins are modifications to the operating system that sit on top of stock Android. They frequently have quite unique appearances and include features that other skins don't.

Android Skins

One of the best features of the Android operating system is its flexibility to be customized (OS). The Android operating system is still being developed as an open-source project. Because of this, phone companies are free to modify the original code to add or delete features that suit their preferences and objectives. Eventually, the world began to notice a wide variety of Android-based smartphone operating systems known more commonly as "Android Skins."

You would assume that a Samsung smartphone and a OnePlus smartphone would have the same software, wouldn't you? They are both Android phones, after all. However, a short glance at each will reveal that they are significantly dissimilar in appearance. That's because each of them uses an Android skin, which is a customized version of Android.

In other words, all Android smartphones run the same version of Android at their foundation, despite any additional design or functionality changes. However, some manufacturers design an experience that is genuinely exclusive to their phone lines in order to add some brand identification. Others hardly interfere with Android's functionality and leave it alone.

The most popular Android skins currently on the market are compiled below. This will be an excellent tool to aid in your decision if you're looking to get an Android phone for the first time.

1. Samsung One UI

The most well-known smartphone maker in the entire globe is Samsung. Therefore, it's safe to presume that most readers of this have a Samsung phone. If you do and the phone is recent, you are already accustomed to One UI.

One UI is one of the bulkiest skins for Android. By that, we mean that compared to other skins, it adds a lot more features and changes a lot more aspects of Android's appearance. Power users that value having a lot of control over their smartphone experience may find this to be a big lure. However, power users might find the experience a little disorganized. Additionally, they might never make use of (or even be aware of) half the functions.

Whatever the case, One UI is among the most well-liked and well-received Android skins available. Samsung has managed to maintain its position as the undisputed leader in smartphones because of its stability, abundance of features, and consistency across all platforms.

Compared to other Android skins and stock Android, one UI is noticeably different. Samsung makes the design whimsical. Many of its own applications are also pre-installed, which some users find annoying. However, many of the capabilities provided by One UI far beyond those of peers. In reality, Google occasionally borrows concepts from One UI for upcoming releases of stock Android.

2. Stock Android

The term AOSP, which is short for Android Open-Source Project, is used to refer to the purest form of Android. With no Google apps, no modifications, and no additional features, this operating system is in its "default" condition. In general, this release serves as the foundation for all Android releases.

The AOSP version of Android can now be installed on a phone and referred to as "stock." Stock Android, however, is a step above this in the majority of real-world scenarios. It typically includes Google programs, such as the crucial Google Play Store. But standard Android typically lacks any additional tweaks, just like the AOSP version.

The most well-known smartphones that offer a very close-to-stock experience right now are Nokia-branded phones from HMD Global. In the past, Google's Nexus series and popular third-party phone Google Play Editions both included stock Android. These days, this behavior is less frequent. Nowadays, you typically need to uninstall the pre-installed software and then install stock Android yourself if you want a phone with a genuine version of stock Android.

Because the maker of the phone doesn't have to make many software changes, phones running stock Android typically receive updates to the most recent versions of Android swiftly. Skinned Android, on the other hand, frequently has access to a lot more functions. For instance, skinned variations of Android had a native dark mode for years before stock Android received it in Android 10.

3. OnePlus Oxygen OS

Oxygen OS used to be very similar to stock Android. It was a breath of fresh air when Oxygen OS initially launched, a pun that OnePlus heavily exploited. The appearance and feel of Oxygen OS have seen considerable changes thanks to OnePlus over time. It is currently so far from stock that it is approaching One UI territory.

The most recent Oxygen OS, which is based on the Android skin created by sibling company Oppo, will be included with new OnePlus phones or will ultimately be available. Thus, Oxygen OS and Oppo's Color OS are now quite close. Although they aren't the same, they aren't that dissimilar either. Actually, Color OS is pre-installed on OnePlus phones in China.

Still, Oxygen OS does have a lot of nice features that stock Android does not. Even if it has lost some of its appeals as it departs from its stock roots, it is still one of our readers' favorite Android skins. An extremely stylish Android skin is Oxygen OS. It's easy and seamless, and OnePlus paid close attention to even the smallest aspects of the user experience. Although it doesn't have quite as many features as One UI or Color OS, it nonetheless enhances Android to such an extent that power users should feel right at home.

4. Oppo Color OS

Oppo's Android skin is considerably dissimilar from stock Android. The overall look and feel of Android is maintained in all of the user interfaces, including Samsung's One UI, OnePlus' Oxygen OS, and Google's Pixel UI. Almost nothing about Color OS resembles standard Android. To give the software a distinctive look, it overhauls almost every aspect of it. It has a tonne of functions as well that are almost probably never going to be included in the default system.

Color OS is very divisive because of its abundance of modifications and possibilities. While some people adore its distinctive feel and the intriguing features it provides, others feel that it doesn't feel sufficiently like classic Android. To determine which side of the debate you belong on, try out as many Android skins as you can.

The basic code for OnePlus' Oxygen OS is taken from Color OS, as was described in the preceding part, hence the operating systems are extremely similar. You have complete control over almost every aspect of the operating system using Color OS. You can personalize your phone in a variety of ways with the numerous customization choices, inbuilt features, and apps. This comes at the expense of consistency, speed, and bloat-free performance.

5. Xiaomi MIUI

The world's largest smartphone vendor, Xiaomi, is on the verge of taking that title. With Huawei off the market, the Chinese business has already surpassed Apple in some metrics to become the second-largest OEM in the world. As a result, MIUI, Xiaomi's Android skin, is more well-liked than ever. Be aware that MIUI is also present on select Xiaomi sub-brands, including Redmi, Poco, and Black Shark.

Xiaomi's smartphone skin is significantly different from standard Android, just like Oppo's Color OS. It is much more vibrant, cartoonish, and fun. In addition, MIUI now provides a tonne of amazing features unavailable on pure Android. There are some things you can do with a Xiaomi phone that you simply can't do with other phones, much like Samsung's One UI and other heavy Android skins. Similar to One UI, MIUI provides a variety of distinctive features and aesthetics. It also has a tonne of apps pre-installed that you might or might not want.

But MIUI's reliance on advertisements is one of the most divisive concerns with the platform. Xiaomi has repeatedly stated that it is not a hardware firm in the open. It views itself as primarily a software company that also produces hardware. As a result, MIUI's numerous adverts greatly subsidize its affordable products. As a result, with Xiaomi phones, you can always anticipate a lot more data harvesting, advertising, and software collaborations.

6. Google Pixel UI

Many individuals might believe that Google's Pixel smartphones include stock Android. That isn't entirely accurate, though. The majority of people prefer to assume Pixel phones have stock Android because Google's line of Nexus smartphones did.

The Android skin for Pixel phones is known as Pixel UI informally. Although it has several non-stock features and design modifications, this version of Android nevertheless has a stock-like appearance.

Exclusive software features that are only available on Pixel phones are unmatched. The Call Screen function on contemporary Pixel phones is an illustration of this. It answers your spam calls using Google Assistant's intelligence to confirm that they are not robocalls or telemarketers.

Google releases updates more quickly than almost all other smartphone makers, and the Pixel UI closely resembles pure Android in terms of appearance and feel. Pixel UI ought to be one of your top options for Android skins if you're searching for a version of Android that is free of bloat but doesn't significantly alter the way Android naturally feels. However, it will still be lacking several useful features that other "heavier" skins, like Samsung's One UI or Oppo's Color OS, offer.

7. Motorola My UX

Google once held ownership of Motorola. Given this context, it shouldn't come as a surprise to see how close Google's Pixel UI skin is to Motorola's Android skin, branded as My UX. Motorola, on the other hand, produces a lot more low-cost and mid-range smartphones than Google.

My UX is generally quite user-friendly. It is welcoming, cheerful, and uncomplicated. Additionally, its simplicity maintains fluid and light. Everything has a wonderful sheen to it that appeals to as many people as possible. This makes a lot of sense as Motorola primarily creates mid-range smartphones, which can be used by kids, adults, and seniors alike.

My UX is now regarded as a top-notch Android skin. Motorola didn't make many changes to Android, opting for the "less is more" philosophy. It did add a few fresh touches and features, but overall it still seems stock.

Unfortunately, Motorola doesn't have a good reputation for keeping its phones up to date. In stark contrast to Samsung and Google, which give four or three upgrades for almost all of its phones, the corporation has been found trying to pass off one significant Android upgrade for even its most expensive phones. For several of its products, Motorola also frequently delays the delivery of security updates.

8. Asus Zen UI / ROG UI

Actually, Asus offers two distinct Android skins. Zen UI, which is included on the company's standard smartphones, is quite similar to Pixel UI and feels very stock-like. The ROG UI, which has a significantly more "gamer" look, may be used with its gaming phones in the ROG Phone series.

Zen UI maintains a stock Android aesthetic and feels, keeping it thin, uncomplicated, and bloat-free. It isn't quite stock, but it does include some added features. In the meantime, ROG UI places a lot of emphasis on gaming with intriguing features and vibrant colors to improve your smartphone gaming experience.

In either case, Asus' Android skins are renowned for nailing the fundamentals while yet providing some cool benefits. Although they don't have as many features as systems like One UI or Color OS, many smartphone users out there value their simplicity.

Google's own Pixel UI comes the closest to resembling Zen UI. The skin is incredibly solid and smooth as a result of its simplicity, which is its main strength. Although the gamer-centric aesthetics on the ROG UI are chaotic, it is stable and slick for gamers.

Unfortunately, Asus has a bad track record of keeping its phones' software up to date. For instance, Android 10 wasn't released for its 2020 flagships until the summer of 2021. Additionally, the business takes a while to update its phones with security patches.

Here are some of the most common Android skins and how they function. Which one do you prefer? Let us know in the comment section.