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Battle of the Interfaces: which one is your favorite?

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Zen UI from ASUS

Zen UI is one of the last interfaces to be made available to Brazilian users through Zenfone smartphones. The Asus interface is a mix of native functionality, proprietary applications and a host of other partner apps. The downside of Asus skin is the impossibility of removing many unwanted applications such as game demos, RAM optimizers, anti-virus and Asus own solutions.

However, there are interesting points in the Taiwanese company's UI, such as the strong appeal for customizing system contexts, lock screen, home screen, icons, themes, transition effects and quick shortcut bar. In a direct comparison with the following interfaces, Zen UI is one of the most customizable.

The amount of bloatware varies by device. Zenfone 5, for example, has more embedded apps than Zenfone Selfie, for example.

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Zen UI is one of the most customizable interfaces / ANDROIDPIT
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<p>Since 2014, Asus has made several improvements to its interface, mainly in the factory version on Zenfone GO. This device is the first company out of the factory running Android Lollipop 5.1. Basically, the company retained the essence of Zen UI for the home screen and app drawer. However, the system settings were identical to pure Android.</p>
<p>Zen UI performance has never been a problem for Asus smartphones. In 2015, we tested all of the company's releases, and in none of them did Zen UI prove to be a slow or compulsive RAM consumer. Particularly, what most bothers the Asus interface is the lack of consistency in its translation, since at times it seems to display the Portuguese of Portugal.</p><div class='code-block code-block-4' style='margin: 8px auto; text-align: center; display: block; clear: both;'>
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Lenovo Vibe UI

Vibe UI is the latest interface to arrive in Brazil, present only on the Lenovo Vibe A7010. So, as with most Asian business interfaces, the fully customizable Vibe UI has a built-in theme store, different lock screen type, and an online gallery of wallpapers.

The home screen may look similar to conventional Android (screen + app drawer) or then the Lenovo version, which removes the app drawer and keeps the icon of all apps scattered across the start screens.

Status bar and notification bar icons can be changed, as can system icons. The performance of the Vibe UI is impressive, especially considering the features embedded in the manufacturer's skin.

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Vibe UI on Lenovo Vibe A7010 without App Drawer / ANDROIDPIT
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<p>Lenovo ships only the essentials for the user, such as a file manager and a compass. Like Motorola, the main functions of Vibe UI are available in application form rather than spread out in system configurations. And it's not hard to find certain features – just go to the app drawer and find the app that matches the task you want.</p>
<p>Overall, even with more square and different than conventional icons, Vibe UI is a mix of good Android stock with small functions. The system business card, your home, can be completely modified. However, the configuration aspects and system usability remain as we know it in conventional Android.</p>
<h2>Xiaomi's MIUI</h2>
<p>MIUI is Xiaomi's interface for your devices. In fact, MIUI is a complete operating system that is based on Android, regardless of the version it was compiled. So MIUI 7, which is the latest version of the manufacturer, delivers features that are present in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, for example, even though it is based on Android KitKat 4.4.4.</p><div class='code-block code-block-6' style='margin: 8px auto; text-align: center; display: block; clear: both;'>
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However, the next version of the interface, MIUI 8, is based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and is already in the testing phase (beta).

We can say that Lenovo's Vibe UI and MIUI have many aspects in common. MIUI icons are square and the applications installed on the device are arranged between the system start screens. Android stock fans can find at MIUI an opportunity to explore a new concept of usability, as Xiaomi's interface is nothing like the system designed by Google.

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MIUI 7 is the latest version of the Xiaomi / ANDROIDPIT system

MIUI has been developed for a long time and has a very active developer and user community that contributes to software development. New beta versions are published every 15 days, while end users receive corrective updates virtually every month. Thus, the company interface is always polished and aligned with the hardware of each device in which it is installed.

Xiaomi is one of the few Android manufacturers that has complete control over hardware and software, and develops MIUI according to the hardware of their devices. For Brazilian users, MIUI can currently be found on Redmi 2 and Redmi 2 Pro smartphones.

Samsung TouchWiz

TouchWiz is the most hated of all interfaces. Of course, the fact that Samsung sells outrageously more than all other manufacturers automatically makes this interface the most widely used. The TouchWiz Nature UX was originally launched in 2010 with the Galaxy S. It had numerous unique functions and consequently increased space and RAM consumption.

Some of the time-honored features were the ability to zoom in by gesturing or dragging icons and widgets by pinching, holding, and then dragging them to the right or left. This has become standard today, including for Android's launcher stock.

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TouchWiz one of the most controversial interfaces in the Android / ANDROIDPIT universe

Two years later, Samsung brought the TouchWiz 4.0 on the Galaxy S3. In addition to innovative features, the number of pre-installed applications has increased, consuming more memory of the device. To make matters worse, as well as not being able to uninstall their dubious apps, they kept running in the background and consuming RAM.

On the other hand, starting with TouchWiz 4.0, Samsung started to make the interface more minimalist, with less exaggerated designs, too much animation and color. As a result, there was a good reduction in the RAM S3 memory consumption and the stability of the handset was highly praised.

With TouchWiz 5.0, which came with the Galaxy S6 and Note 5 (image above), Samsung finally left the "cartoonist" look completely and became something more minimalistic and close to Google's Material Design.

It became much faster and more stable, although the installed apps remained many. A complaint from users is that in order to achieve stability and continue with their apps, Samsung has taken a measure that closes apps in the background without user consent, something Apple does on iOS.

TouchWiz 6.0 began testing already on the Galaxy S6 in December 2015 and officially arrived on the device in February this year. It was pre installed on the Galaxy S7 line devices.

The new version of the interface brought changes to the notification bar and quick settings, and came back with the ability to customize shortcuts on the lock screen; and Smart Manager was installed within the settings, instead of being shown as an application.

HTC Sense UI

With a minimum of pre-installed apps while still maintaining a very close look at the standard Android interface. In addition to being beautiful, light and fast, Sense 6, released together with Android KitKat 4.4.4 in 2013, brought some interesting features, such as Blinkfeed, Zoe and others. The highlight is Blinkfeed, where on the launcher's first screen are news and functions in card format, fully customizable by the user.

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HTC Sense one of the best Android / ANDROIDPIT interfaces

HTC Sense was launched in 2009 in its Hero line. It is still considered the most beautiful and simple custom interface in the Android universe. With minimal pre-installed apps while still maintaining a very close look at the standard version interface clean of Google's operating system.

In the latest version of Sense 7.0 that came on HTC One M9, HTC has placed its own theme engine, where the user can completely customize the launcher or download from third parties, without affecting its praised performance. In addition, it also brought competing functions such as double tap to wake up or turn off the screen.

Undoubtedly, HTC's lightweight, minimalist interface, along with the good hardware of its smartphones, makes it one of the most important and beloved customizations in the Android universe. No wonder their gadgets are widely praised by the experts.

LG UX from LG

If there is a controversial interface, this is LG UI. I say this because she has a legion of enemies, but at the same time another legion of admirers like me. Although LG UI is not as minimalistic as Sense, it is not crowded with bloatware, nor does it consume RAM like TouchWiz.

But, what stands out most, that in each new version LG brings useful functions that end up becoming a trend in other manufacturers. An example of this is the famous Knock-On which makes it possible, among other things, to give 2 ringtones to wake up or turn off the screen. This pattern is currently used by many manufacturers, as well as existing in alternative developer ROMs.

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The beautiful LG UX is one of the slowest / ANDROIDPIT

The LG Optimus UI, which is now known as the LG UX, started in 2010. But, until the arrival of the LG G2 and version 3.5, it was one of the most hated interfaces. With the LG G2, it brought several functions such as the already mentioned Knock Code, mini Apps, shortcut notification bar and the ability to download themes.

The version used on the LG G3 brought the Smart Notice Smart Weather Widget, plus a full screen of cards that nobody uses after all. Along, unfortunately, it brought a number of crashes and slowness in animations, which were partly fixed in the Android 5.1 Lollipop update.

On the LG G5, the manufacturer decided to eliminate its launcher's app drawer, but after much anger from consumers in the western market, LG released a new launcher called "Home 4.0" with this option. The launcher can be downloaded from the LG app store.

Oddly enough, on some devices the interface runs "smooth" without slowness or lags; In others, it totally disrupts the experience of use. As I said at the beginning: LG UX loved and hated at the same time.

Sony Xperia UI

Sony's interface suffers from the same harm as its smartphones: the look never changes. Of course, just like smartphones, it pleases a lot of people. Particularly, I find the Sony interface one of the best today. Its look is also minimalist, not like that of Sense, but. Also, it's hard to say that Xperia UI is slow or hangs. On the contrary, she with her animations well done and almost never chokes, even in intermediate devices.

Androidpit Xperia Z5 Premium 10
Sony's interface is one of the least changes among the others. / ANDROIDPIT

But being quick and light has its price. Xperia UI does not offer many features that make a difference. On the other hand, while the interface is clean, Sony suffers from the "evil of Samsung" of putting too many pre-installed apps on their devices. But, to be fair, many of them are uninstallable.

Sony takes advantage of this and has good apps that ultimately make the user not have to resort to third party apps, as the company's are well made. One example is the camera app, which is one of the most complete, the file manager and the music app – former Walkman – which is one of the most useful and beautiful among Androids. Even, we often see mods that take the Walkman to other brands.

Stamina mode is by far the best power management software of all manufacturers, and can do miracles in battery saving. But with the arrival of Android 6.0 Marshmallow – which features Twelve mode, which performs the same function – Stamina mode has been removed from Sony's interface. However, the manufacturer is considering bringing it back.

On the Xperia Z5, for example, the interface remained the same as the Xperia Z3 +, but with isolated improvements to camera software and fewer pre-installed third party apps.

Google Stock UI

Finally, we come to the standard Android interface, the Stock UI. Most praised of all, not only for its functions, but for its simplicity and speed. The success so much that the Launcher Google Now one of the most downloaded from Google Play.

Google's initiative started there with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, seeing how Android was getting bugged in the hands of manufacturers. Google tried to influence manufacturers to understand that sometimes less. Some even got the message while others did not, as we saw in the examples above.

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Standard Android interface present on Nexus 6P. / ANDROIDPIT

Android Stock values ​​simplicity and minimalism, even more so with the arrival of Material Design and its shadowless, flat design. It is suitable for users who do not like legal functions very much, but in everyday life no one actually uses it. On the other hand, it gains in performance and speed. This is indispensable today in a world where normal users have 30 or more applications for various functions.

On the other hand, simplicity comes at a cost and sometimes we do need some useful functions that Android Stock does not offer, or even more complete applications. An example would be the Stock camera app. For those who like to whip more on photos and explore more from smartphone cameras, the Google app is one of the worst. It has few customization options and still boring to access the few it has.

For comparison, we can mention the LG app, present in the G4. Besides offering a super simple option, even more than Google's, there is also the manual option where there are more functions than many older DSLRs. Depending on the situation, it makes a lot of difference.

Another point that makes a lot of difference in favor of Stock Android is the system updates. As there is not much to adapt, devices that have this interface receive updates faster.

Conclusion

Particularly, I'm in the middle ground. I prefer when a manufacturer puts on a minimalist look, but does not neglect useful functions. Lenovo, HTC and Sony are among the best in my opinion. But it is worth an honorable mention LG which, although it is currently bugged, brings useful functions like Knock Code and the most complete camera application in manual mode.

Android stock remains the best option for the simplistic, while ASUS and Xiaomi are great alternatives for users looking for new software experiences.

Are you happy with your handsets and custom interfaces, or do you prefer the good old Android Stock? Leave your opinions!

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