[dropcaps]There is sometimes discord in the Android community that demands a time out.  This subject is one of those.  Too often do we see clamoring that the best solution to any manufacturers’ approach to their phone’s software is untouched, stock Android.  And while part of me is with the purists (having owned Nexus devices myself), another part of me can’t bear to jump on the bandwagon and refute any other offering.  Hear me out.[/dropcaps]

If you stop and think about each different UI, you can’t tell me that there isn’t something right it’s doing.  Like some sweet feature that another software package doesn’t offer, even stock Android.  For argumentative purposes, let’s break them down:

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Yes, TouchWiz is shunned a lot of the time, and for good reason.  But what about the camera software?  I had the Nexus 6 and I felt like the camera on it was set on simple mode.  There wasn’t much it could do outside of point and shooting.  The only modes available are:  panorama, photo sphere, lens blur, and HDR.

On the Galaxy camera app, you have a Pro mode, where you can change White Balance, ISO, etc.  HDR can be handled automatically, so no more user switching and that lag associated with it.  There’s also slow and fast motion capture, selective focusing after the fact, and many more post-processing effects.  Also, on the selfie mode, there’s a beautification ability to remove face blemishes.

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One TW feature I must mention is the split screen view.  It is beyond me on why the Nexus 6, with its ginormous screen, did not have this ability.  There are also a multitude of gestures/motions as shortcuts to common actions, such as bringing the phone to your ear to automatically make a call or the screen remaining on until you look away from it.

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While LG’s UX 4.0 UI isn’t renowned, it does bring some unique features to the playing field.  One of these is navigation button customization.  Google is the one who introduced on-screen buttons, so they should have been the ones showing off their flexibility.

In UX 4.0 you can add in another button, with a multitude of functions to choose from to assign to it.  You can also rearrange the button layout.  For instance, I’m right-handed and like the back button to be on the right side.


LG has up’d their camera game this year as well.  The LG camera software has capabilities reaching for DSLR-level of options.


We also can’t forget about that Double-Tap-to-Wake feature, debuted back on the LG G2.  It’s another frustration that the current Nexus phone still doesn’t have this.


In contrary, HTC’s Sense is one of the most accepted UI’s.  Since the release of the One M7, Sense has been well-optimized, quick, and for the most part, not annoying to look at.


One great thing HTC introduced with Sense 7 is a very capable theming engine, something Lollipop is lacking.  It can basically take any color palate, whether user-specified or from an image, and match the UI’s appearance to it.




While many would agree that Sony’s UI needs a serious makeover, function-wise it has some great things going for it.

One of its most renowned features is battery optimization.  As of late, Lollipop has had some issues in the battery department.  Sony works their magic with hardware and software tweaks to make the battery only take sips from its capacity, while still allowing the user to feel like the phone is blazing fast.



Even with a near stock experience, Moto still felt the need to spice things up.  They did some fancy notification tricks with Moto Display, letting you wave your hand in front of the device to check it.  Also, the when you touch the notification, you get a preview without having your entire screen lit up.  This is great if you constantly want to know the status without constantly pressing the power button.

In addition, Moto Voice gives you more control over your phone than Google Now, Moto Assist lets you tailor your phone’s behavior for different parts of the day, and Moto Actions provides gesture shortcuts.


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Now, before the Comments section of this article gets blown up by “You can have all that on Lollipop, if you root!”.  That is not the point.  We are not discussing a specific group of people, who are open to putting extra effort and risk to unlocking their phone.  We’re talking about the Android community as a whole, and the majority of people aren’t comfortable with stepping out of bounds.

Here’s a thought to add to the mix:  Why does Google leave out features that stock Android should obviously have?  What if Google deliberately holds back, to leave room for improvement for their customers to fill?

Let us know what you think!

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  1. I’ve had Samsung HTC and moto. And don’t miss any features. I never used them and they were mainly extra crap that I didn’t use. Most of these can be done with apps. Especially as android develops apps can tap into core android more and more. Pure all the way!!

    • That’s a good thought. I mean, stuff like the camera apps, you can find alternatives. But some things, not so much, like changing the on-screen buttons or double-tap-to-wake. And one that stands out to me is Sony’s battery optimizations. It’s incredible how much they extend battery life.

  2. I love the interface on the LG G3. It’s simple and has some nice tweaks to it. The double-tap to shut the screen off and then the knock code are excellent. I don’t ever have to touch the buttons to either turn the screen off or to unlock it. Double tap on the desktop to turn off the screen. Tap my knock code (either with the screen off or double tap to turn the screen on first and then do my knock code) and I’m in, never having to touch a button. This works especially well when my phone is in my cradle in my car. I don’t have to remove the phone from the cradle or reach around the back to turn the screen on or off. I’m not advocating that I do this when I drive, but at least, when I’m parked, I don’t have to take the phone out of the cradle.

    I used to be one that would replace my launcher with something like Nova. Well, with the G3, I did that at first, but after seeing the nice features the LG G3 stock launcher had, I decided that was good enough for me. I do supplement it with Folder Organize as I like how that works better than the folders in the stock launcher, but that’s about it. This is the first phone where I stuck with the stock launcher. That says a lot about LG if you ask me.

    Now, if Nova were to add the double tap gesture to turn off the screen without having to install a 3rd party app, that would be golden because I do like being able to change the number of icons per row and column, which you can’t do with the stock LG launcher, but that’s not enough to make me go back to Nova for right now.

  3. I’ve owned the Moto X, LG G4 and Nexus 6. My grandfather and Uncle have the Note4 and Galaxy S6 Edge. All have a lot in common and a few different features baked in.
    Google is, in my opinion looking at what makes each company unique and adding features to Stock Android to make the experience better for all and to push innovation from these companies. I really loved the Moto X and G4 however I just like my Nexus 6. It does everything I need it to.

  4. I have both:
    Nexus 7: very dumb OS, Lollipop is a slow disaster without options
    SGS5: 5 years ahead of Google Android (also Lollipop, also much slower than 4.4)

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