MWC 2019: OneUI sure helps the Galaxy S10+ make a strong first impression

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

The Samsung Galaxy S10+ has a new processor, new camera and a new look but the thing I was most excited to mess with when I had the chance to go hands-on with the new device at Mobile World Congress? The software.

The Galaxy S10+ represents the start of a new chapter for the Samsung experience. Well, technically it's actually the end for The Samsung Experience - the company's previous attempt to rehabilitate its once-maligned TouchWiz Android skin.

In the past, software has occasionally been the Achilles heel of Samsung's Galaxy smartphones. Samsung's ambition to offer as much as it can to customers can sometimes play spoiler to its desire to offer a version of Android that's simpler and cleaner than the rest.

It sometimes feels like there's an underlying logic that's not too far off Apple's iOS. If you're all in on Samsung's products and services, their vision for what Android should be is the fabric that threads it all together. If you're not ready to commit to such a hard ask, then you're in for an odd fit. Nevertheless, that all changes with the arrival of the Galaxy S10, S10+ and S10e. All three run on Samsung's new One UI skin. And unlike previous efforts, One UI isn't distinguished by its ties to Samsung's other services or features like Bixby. Instead, it's defined by a single core idea: phones have gotten too big.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

More specifically, phones have gotten too big for the conventions of how the software they run is designed to keep up. The One UI experience is about ergonomics, usability and reducing the repetitive strain of using larger phones. Most Samsung apps have now been redesigned to privilege the lower half of the display for buttons and other touch interactions. Meanwhile, the upper part of the screen has been designated a 'viewing area'. There's also a new dedicated night mode that spans the entire operating system.

What's more, this overhaul is actually successful. Out of the box and after a day of messing around with it, I'm starting to think that One UI might finally put Samsung in contention with even Google's clean Pixel UI experience. Even mundane everyday tasks like opening apps or settings alarms feel lightweight and intuitive in all the right ways and the performance feels snappy in a way that's close to pitch-perfect. The software here feels like an natural extension and an vivid embodiment of the hardware design.

Since the Galaxy S7 onwards, the weaker elements of the Samsung experience haven't been outright terrible so much as they've been sub-par. Not great, but not ideal. There's only so bad that the "bad" parts of a Galaxy flagship can be. Still, after some hands-on time with the Galaxy S10+, it feels like software and UX won't be one of them for much longer.

Disclosure - PC World Australia's coverage of this year's MWC in Barcelona was sponsored by Oppo who covered the costs of our flights and accommodation.

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Tags samsungMWCSamsung Galaxy S10+Galaxy S10+

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Fergus Halliday
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