Android 13 first landed on Google’s phones, but it’s no longer a Pixel exclusive. By the numbers, more people will experience the newest version of Android on a Samsung phone than on a Google device. After a months-long beta period that began in mid-2022, Samsung is distributing the newest version of Android by way of an update to One UI 5, the newest iteration of Samsung’s spin on Google’s mobile OS.
The One UI 5 update began on some of Samsung’s top phones but has started rolling out to more devices in recent weeks and months. The upcoming Galaxy S23 series should be the first Samsung phones to launch with the new software. Are you wondering what the deal is? Here’s everything we know about One UI 5.
What is Samsung One UI 5?
One UI is Samsung’s suite of customizations to Android, its software skin. Since One UI’s introduction in 2018, each numbered Android release has also seen a major One UI update. One UI 1 was based on Android 9, the One UI 2 update was based on Android 10, and so on. One UI 5 is based on Android 13.
The update is available on many Samsung phones, including the Galaxy S22 series, Galaxy S21 series, and more. More devices will receive the update in the coming weeks and months.
What’s new in Samsung One UI 5?
Samsung’s One UI 5 is based on Android 13 and includes all the system-level updates the newest version of Android brings. Android 13 is a low-key update, so don’t expect One UI 5 to completely overhaul how you interact with your Samsung phone. But a lot of Android 13’s tweaks are smart improvements, if not particularly large ones.
Android 13 has changes like a new notifications permission that lets you opt in to notifications on a per-app basis, new language settings that allow you to change the languages your apps display in individually, and more. We cataloged the changes in Android 13 at length, so check our guide to Android 13 for a more in-depth look at changes coming to all (or most) phones that get the update. Here, we focus on Samsung’s exclusive new features.
Notification design changes
It’s a minor tweak, but one of the first you’re likely to notice in One UI 5. The notifications panel looks a little different. App icons are larger and more colorful, which should help you determine what notifications came from which app at a glance. An early One UI 5 beta also changed the number of quick settings icons displayed when the notification shade is partially expanded. However, it’s still six by default in the final release.
Left: One UI 4.1. Right: One UI 5 beta.
Bixby Text Call
One of the most exciting new One UI 5 features is Bixby Text Call, which is Samsung’s take on the Call Screen feature in Pixel phones. Galaxy phone users can have Bixby answer calls for them, and a readout of what the caller said appears on the screen. Samsung takes the experience further than Google. With Text Call, you can type responses, and Bixby reads them to your caller.
According to Sammobile, this feature is currently exclusive to Samsung phones running One UI 5 in Korea, so you (probably) can’t use it yet. English support should be coming in early 2023.
One UI 5 Modes
One UI 5 includes a new feature called Modes. One UI 5’s Modes are almost the same as Bixby’s Routines, except Modes can be activated automatically when set criteria are met or manually when you know you’ll want one. You could, for example, configure your Workout Mode to silence notifications and open Spotify when your Galaxy phone detects you’re working out. But because it’s a Mode rather than a Routine, you can also trigger the setup manually before your workout.
Lock screen customization
Samsung introduced several new lock screen features in One UI 5. You can change the style of the clock, choose how notifications display, tweak shortcuts, and change your lock screen wallpaper, all from the lock screen. To open the editor, press and hold anywhere on the lock screen.
You can remove elements if you don’t want to see app shortcuts or a clock on your lock screen. One UI 5 also lets you make lock screen wallpapers out of videos, so you could set a video wallpaper and remove the lock screen elements to be greeted by a fun animation every time you turn on your phone screen. Not entirely practical, but fun!
Samsung’s Smart Widgets aren’t new. You’ve been able to stack like-sized widgets to save space before One UI 5 was released. But One UI 5 makes a smart change. To create widget stacks, you drag and drop widgets on top of each other from your homescreen. Previously, it was an involved process that involved fiddling with menus. You can only create stacks of widgets that are the same size, but it’s easy to adjust individual widgets to fit before creating a stack.
A new smart suggestions widget surfaces different apps and actions based on your phone use. By default, it’s a 4 x 2 grid, but you can shrink it down to 4 x 1 after you add it to your homescreen if that fits your needs better.
Wallpaper selection varies from device to device, but with One UI 5, the Galaxy S22 series features new preloaded wallpapers under headings labeled Graphical and Colors. They’re basic, but Samsung phones tend to come with fewer default wallpapers than devices from other manufacturers, so any improvement is a welcome one.
Call background customizations
In One UI 5, you can set custom background colors for each contact that shows when you get a call from that number. It’s a small change, but it makes it easier to tell who’s calling from a distance or at a glance.
More color themes
Samsung has offered Material You-style dynamic theming since One UI 4.1, where you could pick from three dynamic themes based on your wallpaper or a single stock theme that makes UI accent colors primarily blue. Options vary by wallpaper, but in One UI 5, you’ll see as many as 16 wallpaper-based dynamic options and 12 static themes in a range of colors, including four two-tone options. Plus, when you apply the theme to your app icons, it is applied to all apps that support themed icons, not just Samsung’s apps.
New multitasking gestures in Labs
One UI 5 introduces new navigation gestures that are helpful on large-screen devices like the Galaxy Z Fold 4. One lets you swipe up from the bottom of the screen with two fingers to enter split-screen mode. The other allows you to swipe in from one of the screen’s top corners to open the app you’re currently using in a floating window view. You can enable the gestures in the Labs section under Advanced features in your Samsung phone’s settings.
There are a handful of tweaks to the Samsung camera experience in One UI 5. Pro mode has a histogram option to dial in brightness, plus a help icon that offers tips on how to use the settings and sliders better. You can also watermark photos with custom text.
OCR and contextual actions
One UI 5 makes liberal use of optical character recognition or OCR. OCR lets your phone “read” text from images or real life, converting it to text you can copy and paste. You can also take immediate action with web addresses, phone numbers, and the like. For example, tapping a phone number you’ve taken a photo of in Samsung’s Gallery app lets you call the number without entering it manually into the Phone app.
You’ll find OCR in Samsung Internet, Gallery, the camera app, and the Samsung Keyboard. You can open the viewfinder from any text field to fill in text automatically from the world around you.
When will my phone get One UI 5?
One UI 5 began testing in beta during August 2022 and started arriving on the Galaxy S22 series in stable in October. Since then, it’s been making the rounds to other Samsung devices, including the Galaxy S21 series and the Galaxy A53.
Samsung hasn’t made any specific promises about when phones in the U.S. and Europe will get the One UI 5 update. However, based on a schedule provided to Korean users, it seems like most users who will see the One UI 5 update should get it by early 2023.
Here’s the schedule, as provided to Samsung Members in Korea:
- Galaxy Z Flip/Fold 4
- Galaxy Z Flip/Fold 3
- Galaxy S21/S21+/S21 Ultra
- Galaxy Note 20/Note 20 Ultra
- Galaxy S20/S20+/S20 Ultra
- Galaxy Tab S8/S8+/S8 Ultra
- Galaxy Tab S7/S7+
- Galaxy Quantum 3
- Galaxy A53 5G
- Galaxy A33 5G
- Galaxy Z Fold 2
- Galaxy Z Flip 5G
- Galaxy Z Flip
- Galaxy S20 FE
- Galaxy Tab S7 FE/S7 FE 5G
- Galaxy Tab S6 Lite
- Galaxy A Quantum/Quantum 2
- Galaxy A52s 5G
- Galaxy A51 5G
- Galaxy A42 5G
- Galaxy A32
- Galaxy Jump/Jump 2
- Galaxy Tab A8
- Galaxy Tab A7 Lite
- Galaxy Tab Active 3
- Galaxy Buddy 2
- Galaxy Wide 6
- Galaxy Wide 5
- Galaxy Buddy
- Galaxy A23
- Galaxy A13
- Galaxy M12
- Galaxy XCover 5
Make the most of your Samsung experience
If your device is on the above list but hasn’t received the One UI 5 update, it’s coming to you soon. In the meantime, check out some ways you can customize Samsung’s keyboard or make the most of Samsung Messages (yes, new Samsung phones come with Google’s texting app, but Samsung Messages still exists). If you’re rocking a Samsung device that won’t ever get One UI 5, it might be time to grab a new phone.