OnePlus 3 software updates are fixing things and breaking other things. But that's OK.

I've been witness to a maelstrom of frustration and invective over the weekend as OnePlus rolled out yet another fix for its OxygenOS software for the OnePlus 3.

OxygenOS version 3.2.4 began trickling out in small waves over the weekend, with promises to fix a few of the OnePlus 3's nagging issues — many of which were introduced in previous updates. That's a problem, sure: it's never ideal to replace one set of bugs with another. But the reality is that OnePlus, free from the need to submit its software to carriers, can and is doing the right thing by unilaterally releasing regular fixes — even as it continues to roll up Google's own security updates into separate releases.

The latest update comprised the following fixes:

  • Fixed the auto-reboot issue.
  • Improved call quality.
  • Implemented various fixes and carrier optimizations.

Many people in our forums, XDA, and in OnePlus' own, have complained that OxygenOS 3.2.4 worsens the phone's ability to stay connected to an LTE network, and doesn't fix its most glaring issue: a poor implementation of Doze that prevents the OnePlus 3 from intermittently receiving notifications while idle. There is no question that OnePlus is doing everything it can to address these problems, which is why there have been so many hotfix updates in the past few weeks. Being a relatively small company comes with scaling challenges, and selling a single version of the phone to work with hundreds of carriers around the world is, even with a single Qualcomm baseband solution, a logistical nightmare. OnePlus has done an admirable job getting its latest flagship to the point where it just works out of the box.

OnePlus should be lauded, not criticized, for its commitment to releasing updates on a regular basis

OnePlus should be lauded, not criticized, for its commitment to releasing updates on a regular basis, even if they don't end up fixing everything that's wrong with the device in question. For all of its hardware prowess, we have to remember that OnePlus is a very young company, and that OxygenOS is considerably less mature than an equivalent Android build from Samsung, LG or HTC. You may see something close to stock Android and think they slightly modified the code from Google's Nexus line, but you're wrong: there's a whole lot of behind the scenes stuff happening that you don't (and shouldn't) see.

Of course, the company did take its time in releasing Marshmallow for the OnePlus 2, and that phone had no shortage of issues when it launched in 2015, but OnePlus seems to have improved its quality control in a number of ways since then.

I also have to emphasize that the OnePlus 3 issues you are hearing about are not widespread. Neither I nor my two colleagues with the OnePlus 3 in-hand have had troubles with notifications, and the battery problems that a vocal few are experiencing are no worse than on an average Android phone with a 3,000mAh cell. I've also really enjoyed using the OnePlus 3's vivid 1080p display despite criticism that it is poorly calibrated; indeed, the newly-added SRGB toggle in Developer Settings that was added shortly after Anandtech's scathing review is, to my eyes, not nearly as enjoyable as the default color setting.

Software is a living, breathing thing. OnePlus can't and won't get everything right the first, second or even third time

Finally, I would be remiss not to mention the aggressive memory management that the OnePlus 3 shipped with, which too willingly closed background apps after some time, causing them to reload instead of jump to attention. This was a choice by OnePlus to prolong battery life, and theoretically works in conjunction with other Marshmallow features like Doze, and existing notification schemes like Google Cloud Messaging, which does not rely on having apps open in the background.

Software is a living, breathing thing. That's why it may be a good idea for the company to release a beta track, which will allow a small number of early adopters to regularly provide feedback on upcoming releases. It did that with the OnePlus 2 Marshmallow update, and that proved successful.

OnePlus can't and won't get everything right the first, second or even third time. But when we're measuring other manufacturers by whether they released an update at all in the last few months, OnePlus, at least from my perspective, deserves no small amount of praise for its efforts.