But there is still some confusion about the Android 12 update, One UI 4.0 update, and One UI 4.1 update.
This Galaxy S21 guide explains the difference between the Android 12 update, One UI 4.0 update, and one UI 4.1 update for Samsung Galaxy S21, S20, and S10, then shows you how to update Galaxy S21 to Android 12. Finally, some questions you may have on updating Galaxy S21, S20, and S10 to Android 12, are answered
As the Android 12 update is almost identical for Galaxy S21, S20, and S10, this guide applies to all these three phones.
For Galaxy S10, S10+, S10e, and S10 5G, Android 12 is the last update. They will not receive the Android 13 (One UI 5) update. Update: Samsung stopped security updates for Galaxy S10, S10+, and S10e in April 2023.
What are the differences between the Android 12 update, One UI 4.0 update, and One UI 4.1 update?
Galaxy S21 was released with Android 11. So, Android 12 is the first major update for Galaxy S21. And it will expect to receive at least Android 13, Android 14 and maybe even Android 15 updates.
In comparison, Galaxy S20 was released with Android 10 and already received the Android 11 update. It will probably receive only 3 major updates. So, probably Galaxy S20 will end up with the coming Android 13 update in 2022/2023.
Android 12 update is the last major update for Galaxy S10. It has received the Android 10 and Android 11 updates already. Very likely, you will not see the official Android 13 update for Galaxy S10.
So far, we have talked about “Android” 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15. These are open-source operating systems developed and maintained by Google.
Samsung, as an Android vendor, always tweak the system and add some unique features to distinguish itself from the other Android vendors. Quite often, these unique value-added features can help maintain a substantial user base.
Instead of modifying the core of Android, Google actually encourages vendors to customise the UI and extend some features. In the past, most Android vendors differentiate from each other with their own “skins” and a few unique features.
TouchWiz, the UI (launcher) for Samsung’s Android phones, had been the iconic feature of Galaxy phones from 2010 (Galaxy S) to 2016 (Galaxy S7). The feature-packed (some were just half-baked, e.g., the new features in Galaxy S5) and overloaded UI was replaced with the Samsung Experiences in Galaxy S8. One UI is the latest Android UI for Galaxy phones. It was introduced with Galaxy S10 in 2019.
One UI is a “modern” Android skin (overlay). It is light and visually appealing.
Anyway, One UI and Android are actually two different things. Technically, they can be separated.
However, some features in One UI depend on the Android core. So, Samsung needs to update the One UI for new versions of Android.
For the Android 12 update, Samsung released two One UI updates: one UI 4.0 update and One UI 4.1 update.
The existence of two versions of One UI for one version of Android is mainly due to the release cycle of Android and Galaxy phones.
Google normally releases a new Android version in September or November. But Samsung usually releases new Galaxy S phones in the first quarter of the year. Of course, the latest Galaxy S is released with the latest Android.
For older phones, Samsung wants to update them to the latest Android before the new flagship is released. For example, Android 12 was released on October 4, 2021, and Galaxy S22 was announced on February 25, 2022. If Samsung had held the Android update for Galaxy S21 till March 2022, many owners would have complained about the slow update.
Surely, Samsung wants to keep some unique features for Galaxy S22 so that the Android update for existing phones does not hurt the new sales.
The result is that Samsung released the Android 12 update for Galaxy S21 with One UI 4.0 in December 2021. Galaxy S22 was released with Android 12 with One UI 4.1 with a few new and exclusive features.
So, most Galaxy S21 owners received the Android 12 update with One UI 4.0 before the release of the Galaxy S22. Galaxy S20 and S10 received a similar update later.
Once the hype about the new features of the Galaxy S22 faded, Samsung started to update Galaxy S21 (and S20 and S10) with the One UI 4.1.
This Android update approach has worked really well since One UI 2. Owners of Samsung’s flagship phones can feel the value of the Samsung brand: the phone will not be outdated in the next 3 to 4 years. For example, Galaxy S21 now has almost all the features of the Galaxy S22, except a few hardware-limited features.
In short, Galaxy S21, S20, and S10, in most regions, should have received two Android 12 updates. One with One UI 4.0 and the other with One UI 4.1.
The top 12 new features in Android 12 update (both One UI 4.0 and 4.1) for Galaxy S21, S20 and S10 are explained in this guide.
How to update Galaxy S21, S20 and S10 to Android 12 update?
By default, Galaxy S21 (S20 and S10) checks the update periodically when the phone is online and idle. Once the Android update, including the Android 12 update and monthly security updates, is available for your phone, a notification will be shown. You can tap the notification to download and install the update.
If your Galaxy S21, S20 or S10 fails to check update automatically, you can manually check the available update.
In Galaxy S21 Settings, tap Software update, as shown in the screenshot below.
On the Software update page, as shown in the screenshot above, tap Download and install.
Galaxy S21 (S20 or S10) will start to check whether there are any updates (including the Android 12 update) for your phone.
If the Android 12 update (or any security updates) is available, it will start to download. You will see the download progress bar, as shown in the screenshot below.
Of course, you can pause the download and resume it later when needed. The file size of the Android 12 is around 2GB. So it takes some time to download.
Please note downloading and installation of the Android 12 update are separate. You need to download it first.
Once the update is downloaded, you can choose:
- To install now.
- To schedule the installation.
Of course, you can do nothing now and decide later.
If you tap Install now, as shown above, the installation will start immediately. And you cannot interrupt it.
You also cannot use the phone before the installation is done. The whole updating process usually takes a few mins.
Initially, the phone unzips the downloaded package, as shown below. Then it reboots to apply the update.
Anyway, you need to wait for the phone to reboot to the lock screen before you can use the phone.
FAQs on Android 12 update for Galaxy S21, S20 and S10
Here are some frequently asked questions on the Android 12 update (One UI 4.0/4.1 update) for Galaxy S21, S20, and S10.
Q1: Why there is no Android 12 update for my Galaxy S21, S20, or S10? What can I do?
Android 12 update needs to be “approved” by local carriers. This means the update is not available at the same time. Even in the same country, the Android 12 update may be delayed for a few carriers (although it has been less likely than before).
Also, Samsung rolls out Android updates in a stagged schedule. For example, the Android 12 (One UI 4.0) update for Galaxy S21 was first rolled out in a few countries in Europe in December 2021. It was later globally rolled out in most countries in Jan/February 2022.
So, in almost all regions, you should have received at least one Android 12 update (One UI 4.0).
Android 12 update with One UI 4.1 was rolled out globally in April 2022 for Galaxy S21, S20 and S10. In a few regions, you may have to wait a while for the One UI 4.1 update.
Q2: Why did my Galaxy S21 (S20 and S10) only receive the Android 12 update with One UI 4.0, not One UI 4.1?
As mentioned, there are two Android 12 updates for Galaxy S21, S20, and S10.
Android 12 update with One UI 4.0 was released in December 2021. The second Android 12 update with One UI 4.1 was released in March 2022 in some regions.
If your Galaxy S21 (S20 or S10) only received the first Android 12 update (with One UI 4.0), you may need to wait a while. Samsung is expected to finish the Android 12 update with One UI 4.1 by June 2022.
Q3: Why my Galaxy S9 has not received the Android 12 update?
Samsung stopped updating Galaxy S9 (all models) in most regions. So, very likely, your Galaxy S9 should stop at Android 10 with One UI 2.5.
Galaxy S9 was released with Android Oreo (Android 8) with Samsung Experience 9.0 in 2018. In 2019, it received the Android Pie (Android 9) update and the Android 10 update with One UI 2.5 in 2020. As Samsung promised two major Android updates for Galaxy S9, they stopped updating Galaxy S9 in 2021.
Q4: Is the Android 12 update rollout based on the origin of the phone or current carrier?
The availability of the Android 12 update is based on the origin of the phone, not the current carrier. For example, if you bought the phone in the UK, and used it in the US, then the update will follow the schedule in the UK.
Q5: What are the major differences between the Android 12 update with One UI 4.0 and with One UI 4.1?
Both updates are based on Android 12. One UI 4.1 update mainly added some features released with Galaxy S22.
You can find the most noteworthy new features in the Android 12 update with One UI 4.0 and with One UI 4.1 here.
Do you have any questions about the Android 12 update for Galaxy S21, S20, and S10? Do you know the differences between the Android 12 update, One UI 4.1, and OIne UI 4.0 now?
If you have any questions about the Android 12 update for Galaxy S21, S20, and S10, please let us know in the comments.
The community will help you.
If you have any questions about using Galaxy S21, you may check our detailed step-by-step Galaxy S21 guides:
- Galaxy S21 new features guides.
- Galaxy S21 how-to guides.
- Galaxy S21 camera guides.
- Galaxy S21 accessories guides.
You can also post questions or share your thoughts on our Facebook page.
The official Samsung Galaxy S21 user manual (PDF) in your local language can be read and downloaded here.
If you want, you can drop us an email on the contact us page.