With no new UI, you’re mostly getting the under-the-hood changes and features. The Android 12 privacy indicators made the cut, which shows a green indicator in the top-left corner any time the camera or microphone is active. Samsung also has its own take on the Android 12 Privacy Dashboard. Most of the changes seem to be Samsung revving its own Android skin, though, with features like new widgets for Samsung-specific apps like Bixby and Samsung calendar, new emojis, and changes to Samsung’s custom share sheet and lock screen.
Of course, the S21 series isn’t the only phone line getting an Android 12 update. The fine print in Samsung’s press release says: “At a later date the update will also be available on the Galaxy S20, S20+, S20 Ultra, S20 FE, Note20, Note20 Ultra, S10, S10e, S10+, S10 5G, Note10, Note 10+, Galaxy Fold, Z Fold3, Z Flip3, Z Fold2, Z Flip, Z Flip 5G, Galaxy A82 5G, A72, A52, A52 5G, A52s 5G, A42 5G, and Galaxy Tab S7 and Tab S7+.” If you bought your Samsung phone from a carrier, there’s a good chance that will delay the release date a bit, too.
Samsung’s flagship phone is getting Android 12 in record time. The OS was released for Pixel phones a little over a month ago, and Samsung has already begun rolling out Android 12 updates to its flagship Galaxy S21 series. Samsung’s version of Android 12 is known as “One UI 4” and comes with a lot of skins. In the new OS, it replaces all of Google’s Material You design with Samsung’s own version. Material The option to color-match your UI with your background, which hasn’t survived in Samsung’s skin, is the most remarkable feature. You can choose a “colour palette” manually through a UI that appears similar to Material You, although the colour isn’t applied as widely as it is in Google’s UI.
This is the fastest Samsung has ever shipped an Android update, and the secret just seems to be starting earlier. Android 11 shipped in early September 2020, but Samsung didn’t ship a beta of Android 11 until the end of October. For Android 12, Samsung was actually shipping betas before Google’s final OS release, with the first beta build of One UI 4 landing on September 25.