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How to turn the Samsung Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge into a Nexus

AndroidPIT samsung galaxy s6 edge nexus 6
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We love the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, but like many people we’re not completely sold on Samsung’s TouchWiz interface. Wouldn’t it be great if you could make your S6 or S6 Edge more like Stock Android? Here’s how to turn the Samsung Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge into a Nexus.

Samsung Galaxy S6: it’s better than before, but it’s still got TouchWiz

In recent years Samsung’s smartphones have been widely praised for their hardware, with good reason: they’re great. But sometimes the software has spoiled the experience, usually for one of two reasons: Samsung has been quite keen on pre-loading all kinds of apps whether you want them or not, and it puts its own TouchWiz interface on top of Android.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Nexus 6 stacked
It's very easy to give your Galaxy S6 a stock Lollipop feel. / © ANDROIDPIT

As interfaces go TouchWiz isn't bad, but it's fairly divisive: if you sit a bunch of Android fans down to debate TouchWiz vs stock Android, things are gonna get ugly. Just like TouchWiz. Ho ho!

The good news is that with the S6, Samsung calmed down on the apps front - and it has also approved a theme that makes the S6 and S6 Edge less TouchWizzy and more Androidy. Here’s how to get it without rooting your device or doing anything remotely difficult.

super su
Stock Android has a lot more flavor in these colorful Lollipop times. / © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy S6: how to turn it into a Nexus

If you’ve used or seen a recent Nexus you’ll know that its stock Android interface looks quite different to TouchWiz. That’s because it’s pure Android the way Google intends it to look, and it uses an interface called Material Design. And now, you can get a Material Design theme for your Samsung.

This is probably as close as we’ll ever get to a Google Play Edition version of the Galaxy S6 without having to root the device and get jiggy with its guts. Here’s how to get the material theme and turn your Samsung Galaxy S6 into a Nexus.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Theme Store
Long press your home screen to find the Themes icon, then open the Theme Store. / © ANDROIDPIT

How to get Material Design on the Samsung Galaxy S6

In order to turn the Samsung Galaxy S6 into a Nexus, you’ll need to visit Samsung’s Theme Store. To do that, press and hold on the home screen and then tap on the Themes icon that appears. You should now see a Theme Store icon at the bottom. Tap that.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Theme Store material design
Just find and install the Material Design theme (there's also a dark Material Design theme). / © ANDROIDPIT

In the theme store, scroll down to the Modern and Simple section and swipe left until you see Material Design. This theme was previously in the Themes for Man section, but it would appear Samsung realized how silly this was and relocated it. Once you’ve found it, it’s just a matter of selecting the theme and installing it.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Nexus 6 icons
Side by side you'll notice things are a little different. / © ANDROIDPIT

Material Design on the Samsung Galaxy S6: why it’s not quite perfect

If you were to put your Samsung Galaxy S6 with the Material Design theme next to a Nexus running Lollipop, you’d soon notice that while the Material Design theme is pretty close to Google’s design, but it isn’t an exact copy.

That’s because some of the elements of the real Material Design interface such as wallpapers and icons are copyrighted, and when developer Samer Zayer first submitted his theme to the Theme Store, Samsung booted it off again citing copyright concerns.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge material design theme home screen notifications
If you look at the details, the Material Design theme isn't perfect, but it's close. / © ANDROIDPIT

As a result, what you actually end up with on your Samsung Galaxy S6 is a kind of cross between TouchWiz and stock Lollipop: it looks almost but not entirely like a Nexus, and wherever something is copyrighted the developer has created a convincing alternative that shouldn’t get him sued. The theme should offer the best of both worlds, with Samsung’s features and a close approximation of Google’s graphic design.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge material design theme settings recent apps
Seeing Material Design on a Galaxy S6 Edge is almost like a Google Play edition device. / © ANDROIDPIT

How to turn your Samsung Galaxy S6 into a Nexus with the Google Now Launcher

If you don’t like the Material Design theme, there’s another option: the Google Now Launcher app.

The Google Now Launcher is a replacement app launcher for your Android device, and as it comes straight from Google it doesn’t have any of the - ahem - enhancements that the phone or tablet manufacturer might have foisted on your operating system.

Previous versions attempted to stick with the version of Android you were running, but whatever device you’ve got the current version gives you the same look and feel as Lollipop and Android M. Between it and the Google Search app you can have Material Design on your S6 for most of the things you do.

What do you think? Has Samsung toned down TouchWiz, or do you wish it’d just give you stock Lollipop and let you customize it yourself? Are you a fan of Material Design, or do you think Samsung’s got the - wait for it - Edge? Let us know in the comments!

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Gary Marshall

Gary Marshall
Freelance writer

Former lion tamer, Girls Aloud backing dancer and habitual liar Gary Marshall has been writing about technology since Google was two guys in a garage. He's written for many fine magazines, newspapers and websites, written a range of how-to-books and a novel, co-written a BBC documentary series and dishes out weekly tech advice on BBC Radio Scotland.

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  • Sanjeev Singh 7
    Sanjeev Singh Jul 11, 2015 Link to comment

    One can turn Galaxy S6 into Nexus 5, but cannot get latest Android update as fast as it comes for Nexus

  • Rogue Tomato 15
    Rogue Tomato Jul 10, 2015 Link to comment

    How to turn the S6 into a Nexus:

    Step 1: Disable half the features of the phone
    Step 2: Smear vaseline on the camera lens


  • 7
    J Gabri-El Jul 9, 2015 Link to comment

    "like many people, we're not completely sold on Samsung's TouchWiz interface" but the plus can be an exception :)

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