The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: One UI 2 on a Mid-range Device

Published on April 12, 2020 by John Vincent · 25 min read

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Samsung is at it again with Android updates. I applaud them for being quite fast recently, especially with them bringing the One UI 2 update on their devices at least two months earlier than planned. Although to be honest, they’re still slower than what I expect.

One UI 2.0 finally came to Galaxy A50 devices, and I can finally experience it for myself. To be honest, it gave back the feelings of being excited about a major upgrade.

Welcome to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; where I review technology and software from a commoner's standpoint. In this first entry in the series, we will explore One UI 2.0 from a mid-range device, the Samsung Galaxy A50.

The Good

Let’s start with the great stuff. The One UI 2 update brings the new features that came with Android 10. That includes support for screen recorders, (rather lacking) better permissions system, and one of my favorites, gesture navigation.

I was never an iOS ex-pat, but I just loved gestures. The new one isn’t exactly easy to learn, especially if you’re new to this. But if you use your phone very frequently (which is the case these times), it’s quite fast to adapt to.

This new gesture system allows you to see more content since buttons don’t block the bottom of the screen anymore. Several apps struggle to support it, especially on a curved screen like the A50; more on that later.

Aside from the goodies Google brought to the table, Samsung has brought a number as well. In addition to the new features they’re proud of such as the improved design and wallpaper adaptability on the lock screen, they have brought several new features as well.

I’m liking the consistency they’re going for, most of which have been ironed out on One UI 2. Home screen folders now follow the same philosophy as other stock apps, which makes it better for one-handed use.

Also, the native screen recorder is a very welcome addition. As well as the refined iconography and color schemes.

Home screen folders are now easy to navigate with one hand.

Customization-wise, updates to Samsung’s Good Lock modules are great, most of which only support Android 10 as of writing. The “Sero” volume panel theme in SoundAssistant is a very welcome addition and allows better reachability on the volume panel.

Issues from One UI 1.1 have been fixed as well; screenshots from the lock screen aren’t dim anymore when you have the fingerprint scanner enabled, you can now add a secondary face to the face recognition feature, and performance is better than before.

The Bad

Let’s go to the disappointing stuff. Gestures are a mess on a lot of apps at this point. Navigation bars are entirely small, and tapping items on the farther left or right can accidentally trigger Google Assistant.

Google never released proper design guidelines for this new thing and left app developers on their own to figure it out.

Swiping from these two red spots triggers Google Assistant. Guess what, there are buttons in there.
Swiping from these two red spots triggers Google Assistant. Guess what, there are buttons in there.

And let’s not forget Samsung’s habit of re-inventing the wheel literally every year. SamsungDaily just isn’t as great as Bixby Home was. What made Bixby Home great is the ability to check e-mails, alarms, reminders, and notes, control your music, and check the content you might be interested in, all in one screen. With SamsungDaily, all except the last are gone. What’s worse, services are very scarce in many countries, you’re stuck with TikTok too. It sucks.

Yuck.
Yuck.

The Ugly

Personal pet peeves next.

Bixby, period. Samsung just doesn’t exert enough effort while Google Assistant is getting better every Google I/O. Services are lacking, you’re still restricted to Samsung’s own apps, and you can’t even disable it anymore on One UI 2. It’s promising, but the execution is still garbage.

QuickShare is more gimmicky than useful since it’s far from cross-compatible. But to be fair, there isn’t known standard yet to do this and there are very few Samsung devices that support it. The Galaxy A50 doesn’t even have it installed by default, you’d have to download and install it yourself.

Samsung Themes still isn’t great. I’m not sure how this “secret community” works behind the scenes, but almost all themes don’t support Dark Mode yet, any good one will cost you money, and have I mentioned that even wallpapers you can easily find on Reddit are paid?

Battery life is abysmal at this point. But in fairness, I’ve reset after upgrading and it’s getting better as of this writing. Night mode in the camera is spotty as well, hoping Samsung fixes that in the next update.

The Thing That Made Me Excited… Again

Photo credit: Cyngn Inc./CyanogenMod/LineageOS
Photo credit: Cyngn Inc./CyanogenMod/LineageOS

I still clearly remember the feeling of excitement when I installed CyanogenMod 12.1 (yes, CyanogenMod!) on an Android device. That preparation when you back up almost everything, and the anticipation when the install and optimization happens.

The Android 10, One UI 2.0 update, has made me experience that exact same feeling again.

Opinion regarding One UI 2 is divided across the community, but as I’ve said before; as long as you find most features useful, it’s not bloated. I find most features useful, and I’m a sucker for colorful and eye-candy UIs, so One UI 2 is a very welcoming change from me.

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