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Is Samsung Android? What is the difference between Samsung and Android?

All Samsung Galaxy phones run on Android, but not all Android phones are Samsung Galaxy smartphones.

Published onMarch 5, 2024

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 size difference
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

The smartphone market moves and evolves very quickly, and the list of best smartphones changes all the time. At this point, we have two main camps of software: iOS and Android. But wait, “What about Samsung phones?” you ask. That is a good question. Where does Samsung fit in this iOS vs Android ecosystem? Is Samsung Android? Or is it something else? How close is it to stock Android? Is it better than stock Android and iOS? We will answer all of these questions in this article.


Samsung makes phones under the "Samsung Galaxy" branding. These phones run One UI, which is a layer of extensive modification on top of stock Android. Samsung has added a ton of features and customizations to help Samsung Galaxy smartphones stand out from the crowd of Android smartphones in the market.


Samsung vs Android: What is the difference?

ditch pixel 7 pro for galaxy s23 ultra 1
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Samsung is a multinational company based in South Korea, and it runs multiple businesses under its umbrella. One of them is Samsung Electronics, a sub-company that manufactures smartphones under the “Samsung Galaxy” branding. So when you refer to a phone as a “Samsung,” you actually mean a Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

Android is an operating system (OS) that powers smartphones. It is the broad layer of software on a phone. Google developed Android, but it is an open-source OS. Other companies can take this open-source OS, make changes to it, and then use that changed OS as the layer of software on their own phones. This is what Samsung does.

All Samsung Galaxy phones are Android phones, but all Android phones are not Samsung Galaxy phones.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra in hand undecided
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Further, Samsung phones are not iPhones, and iPhones are not Samsung phones. iPhones are not Android, either. Apple manufactures iPhones, and it uses iOS as its operating system.

What is Samsung One UI?

All smartphones sold under the “Samsung Galaxy” branding run on Android. Samsung has made plenty of modifications to Android, and these modifications are collectively called “One UI.” One UI is the name of Samsung’s modified software skin that lives on top of Android. So when using a Samsung phone, you use One UI, which is still Android under the hood.

samsung galaxy S23 plus front
Ryan Whitwam / Android Authority

One UI in its One UI 6 avatar looks very different from other Android skins from other companies. Google’s Pixel smartphones have their own Pixel UI skin, OnePlus phones have Oxygen OS skin, and so on. All of these skins look different from each other and also function differently. But they are all Android skins, where Android forms the base layer, and the skin forms the top layer of modifications by the phone maker.

All Samsung phones run on Android, and you can use any Android app on them without any issue.

On Samsung phones, you can use Android apps without any issues. Samsung also makes certain apps that run specifically on One UI on Samsung Galaxy smartphones, which won’t run on other Android phones as those phones do not have One UI. But these apps are very small in number compared to the millions of Android apps available on the Google Play Store and the Samsung App Store.

Does each phone brand have its own unique Android UI?

Yes and no, as it depends.

Android is an open-source OS. Manufacturers can make changes to it as it suits the needs of their customers. Some manufacturers make small changes, while others make significant changes.

samsung galaxy s22 plus vs google pixel 7 home screens
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Manufacturers like Samsung and OnePlus make extensive changes to Android, and thus, they have their own unique Android UI in the form of One UI and Oxygen OS, respectively. Some manufacturers, like Motorola, make fewer changes, so their UI looks similar to stock Android.

Phone brands don’t need to make their own unique Android UI. But many choose to do it as it becomes a branding exercise and gives unique selling points to their phones. It helps them build a community around the software experience.

What is stock Android and how does it compare to Samsung’s One UI?

Pixel 3 XL hands on

We mentioned that Android is open-source, meaning its source code is available for all of us to read, use, and distribute. You can run this source code on a compatible phone. This open-source Android, called AOSP (Android Open Source Project), represents the bare shell of the Android experience.

AOSP does not contain any Google apps, though. Google’s apps like Play Store, Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, and others are closed source and not included in the AOSP package. However, they are essential to the Android experience. If a phone manufacturer wants to include these apps, it must sign an agreement with Google. This build of Android that includes AOSP plus these Google apps is usually referred to as “stock Android.”

As you can see, the definition of stock Android does not include any modifications from the phone manufacturer. Very few phones ship with stock Android these days.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 notification shade
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Samsung’s One UI includes modifications that Samsung made on top of stock Android. In fact, One UI makes some of the most extensive changes to stock Android, so you may find it challenging to recognize the base Android version on any version of One UI.

Stock Android does not have a whole lot of features. On the other hand, One UI has many customizations you can do and features you can enable on your Samsung phone. You only need to look at various entries in your phone’s Settings app to see the scale of features and customizations that Samsung allows you to undertake on your Galaxy smartphone. It is easy to conclude that Samsung’s One UI is better than stock Android unless someone has an extreme preference for minimalism.

Contrary to popular belief, Google’s Pixel phones do not run stock Android. They run Pixel UI, which is Google’s own modifications on top of stock Android.


The answer depends on who you ask. People invested in the Apple ecosystem consider Apple as better, while those within the Samsung ecosystem will favor Samsung. Both companies make great products, and you’d have to try them to decide which one you prefer. We love Samsung’s hardware, but Apple makes a better-integrated product.

No, it is not possible to install iOS on a Samsung smartphone. iOS is a closed-source, proprietary operating system that Apple does not share with anyone else. You can install themes that mimic the looks of iOS on Samsung phones, but you cannot replace OneUI and Android on Samsung phones to install iOS.

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