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Widgets on Galaxy S21 vs. iPhone 12: Why Samsung One UI 3 beats iOS 14

Android phones have had widgets for years, but Samsung's One UI 3 revamped the feature to make them more useful on phones like the new Galaxy S21.

Alison DeNisco Rayome Managing Editor
Managing Editor Alison DeNisco Rayome joined CNET in 2019, and is a member of the Home team. She is a co-lead of the CNET Tips and We Do the Math series, and manages the Home Tips series, testing out new hacks for cooking, cleaning and tinkering with all of the gadgets and appliances in your house. Alison was previously an editor at TechRepublic.
Expertise Home Tips, including cooking, cleaning and appliances hacks Credentials
  • National Silver Azbee Award for Impact/Investigative Journalism; National Gold Azbee Award for Online Single Topic Coverage by a Team; National Bronze Azbee Award for Web Feature Series
Alison DeNisco Rayome
3 min read
See at Samsung
Samsung One UI 3 widgets
See at Apple
Apple iOS 14 widgets

At Samsung Unpacked on Jan. 14, we finally saw the new Galaxy S21 phone line, complete with new camera features and a major price drop. Samsung also showed off a change on the software side: Widgets on many Samsung phones are getting an upgrade with the latest version of Samsung One UI 3 -- just as iOS 14 widgets finally arrived last year for  iPhones and other Apple devices giving you the ability to customize your iPhone home screen with the app information you need.

Read more: Check out CNET's Galaxy S21 review and Galaxy S21 Ultra review

While Android has had widgets for years, the December launch of Samsung One UI 3 for certain Galaxy devices with Android 11 OS brought redesigned widgets to keep your home screen more organized and aesthetically pleasing, and let you access more features from your lock screen. At Samsung Unpacked, the company unveiled new changes to One UI 3 to make widgets even more useful. 

So what's the difference between widgets for Samsung's One UI 3 and Apple's iOS 14? We break down what you need to know. 

Juan Garzon/CNET

Widgets have been a mainstay feature on Google's Android since its inception in 2008. But Samsung's One UI 3 for Android 11 revamps some of the things you can do with these helpful tools. 

At Samsung Unpacked, the company revealed new widgets for the lock screen that let you see more information without unlocking your phone, including screen time, Bixby Routines, along with weather, music and your calendar. You can also set these lock screen widgets to dark mode. 

On your home screen, you can personalize your widgets down to size and level of transparency. Message notifications are grouped at the top for faster access, and you can flip between music apps. 

One UI 3 is currently available on Samsung phones including the new Galaxy S21 line, the Galaxy S20 line, the Galaxy Note 20 line, the Z Fold2, the Z Flip, and the Note10, Fold and S10 series (though there are some differences in availability depending on market). It will reach Galaxy A devices in the first half of the year.

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

Apple finally added widgets for iPhones with the release of iOS 14 last June (Apple also introduced widgets for iPad in iPadOS 14, and for Mac in MacOS Big Sur at that time). 

iOS 14 lets you place widgets for apps like weather, music and fitness on your home screen. You can also customize your own Smart Stack widget on your home screen, which combines several app widgets that you can scroll through (you can also let Apple curate this for you, based on how you use your phone). 

You can download iOS 14 on supported iPhones (generally the iPhone 6s through the iPhone 11).

The bottom line

While Apple's widgets are a welcome, very useful (and aesthetically pleasing) feature, Samsung's One UI 3 widgets offer more by way of customization. However, that could change whenever we get a glimpse of iOS 15, likely later this year. 

Watch this: iOS 14 tips and tricks