Software UI - OxygenOS 5.1

As noted in the introduction, I haven’t had the opportunity to spend much time with OnePlus devices in the past so OxygenOS is also naturally something I haven’t had much experience with. OnePlus is known to have excellent software support with quick and frequency updates. Indeed my review device was very quick in getting the latest July update to 5.1.9 and most interesting for users living on the bleeding edge, OnePlus takes part in the Android P beta program and it’s available for the OP6.

Design-wise, OxygenOS is as close to clean Android as it can be. Out of the box the phone comes with just the bare essentials with the only OnePlus “specific” application being the OP community app. The launcher includes both an app drawer as well as puts most recently installed applications on the second home-screen. The left screen from the homescreen acts as sort of a dashboard with various preconfigured widgets such as memo functionality, recent contacts, recent apps and other subjectively useful toolboxes. The important feature here is that you’re able to add in arbitrary widgets onto the scrollable list, which is an interesting way of organizing your widgets.

The notification tray is very clean and doesn’t veer far away from standard conventions.

A much appreciated default feature in the OS is the ability to switch the OS into a dark theme. This turns the then predominantly white UI into mostly black and dark coloured elements, not only throughout the SystemUI but also in the bundled system applications.

I’ve talked about how I really liked the gesture navigation on the Xiaomi MIX 2S and how it allowed for regaining more screen-estate by ditching the navigation bar. OnePlus’ implementation is similar in that swiping up from the bottom edge of the screen goes to the homescreen, but the back navigation functionality, instead of swiping up from the bottom lateral sides of the phone like on MIUI is implemented by swiping up from the sides of the bottom bezel which I find a lot more natural in terms of movement.

One aspect of OnePlus’ implementation that I did not like at all is the hold duration needed to bring up the multi-tasking screen. This is done by also swiping up from the bottom middle of the screen, but holding your finger instead of letting it go will open up the multi-tasking screen. The problem for me was that I found the hold duration required to be too long and kind of detracted from the fluidity of the navigation.

As an avid user of desktop browser gestures for a good 15 years, I’m extremely happy to see gesture navigation catching on in mobile – for many years we’ve had various innovative implementations from Chinese vendors but due to Google CTS limitations in the past we haven’t had the opportunity to see it wide-spread more often in western devices. Ironically it took Apple introducing them on the iPhone X to see Google finally have a change of heart. UI-less gesture navigations are in my opinion the single best solution to ergonomics. I think what Google did in Android P is a very poor and rushed attempt – hopefully vendors will have the liberty to implement their own variants.

For OnePlus what I’d like to see in the future is to have more customizability such as varying hold duration, and maybe more customizable gestures to just let the user decide how he’d like them to function.  I’m really looking forward to how things will evolve over the next couple of years as I think in the transition towards immersive bezel-less displays the traditional navigation bar has outlived its purpose.

As mentioned in the intro, the notch attracts a lot of controversy. In reality there’s nothing controversial about it and it fulfils its purpose wonderfully: to extend screen real-estate. The OnePlus 6 in no way hinders any kind of experience and if you don’t like the visual cut-out, you can simply black it out.

Overall OxygenOS on the OnePlus 6 is very straightforward and there’s very little to criticise it on. Performance is also outstanding, and that’s what we’ll more closely analyse in the next section.  

Introduction & Design System Performance
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  • Teckk - Friday, July 27, 2018 - link

    Using the phone from just over a month - great display and battery life. Pretty impressive camera for my occasional use. The update policy changed recently if I'm not wrong, were the older phones (X, 3, 3T) supported this well with upgrades? Reply
  • notashill - Friday, July 27, 2018 - link

    The last 2 security patches for the OP3/3T were released 4 and a half months apart. The release pace has been very inconsistent but there are a large number of betas for some reason.

    The X only got one major version upgrade... to a version that was already out before the phone was released. The 3T got 2 major version upgrades... and the first one was to a version that was already out before the phone released. Supposedly it's going to get 8.1 eventually. They did live up to the promise of releasing Nougat in 2016 by releasing it on December 31.
    Reply
  • mmrezaie - Friday, July 27, 2018 - link

    I would like to see a review of software updates. I think One Plus started good but now it has even worst track record than Samsung. I think this part is more important for me rather than CPU performance which is something you get like basically every other company phones of that year. Reply
  • notashill - Friday, July 27, 2018 - link

    They posted a Software Maintenance Schedule a few weeks ago claiming 24 months of "Regular Software Maintenance" which includes major version upgrades and bi-monthly security patches followed by another 12 months of "Software Security Maintenance" with bi-monthly security patches.

    And yet, OP3T was released November 2016 and they are not going to update it to P.
    Reply
  • ACE76 - Friday, July 27, 2018 - link

    Android P isn't out yet...and its probably going to be released around September this year so expecting the 3/T to get it is stupid. Reply
  • notashill - Friday, July 27, 2018 - link

    Obviously P isn't out yet, I did not say I was expecting them to release it before Google. They have already said they are never going to release it for the 3/3T. Reply
  • mmrezaie - Thursday, August 02, 2018 - link

    It is stupid to not expect these companies releasing updates for their phones and turn them into paperweights. Reply
  • WPX00 - Monday, July 30, 2018 - link

    The 3/T has just been confirmed for P. Reply
  • notashill - Tuesday, July 31, 2018 - link

    Yes I just saw this, very happy that they changed their minds about it (they had in fact already announced that Oreo would be the last major update). I hope this is a real turnaround for the company and they start taking updates seriously because OP's hardware is great but I have been rather disappointed with their software to date. Reply
  • SpaceRanger - Friday, July 27, 2018 - link

    Is the battery replaceable or does the back cover require surgery to remove? Reply

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