Is the new Oppo the end of the old OnePlus?
One of the more surprising Android stories of the past week was the news that, after the two companies combined their research and development efforts a few months back, OnePlus would be undergoing a "deeper integration" with Oppo. The latter, which depending on who you asked over the years, was either OnePlus's parent company, sister brand, babysitter, casual acquaintance, or completely unrelated competitor, will apparently exert more influence over OnePlus going forward as part of this integration. That's as a result of the positive impact the two have seen from earlier resource-sharing efforts. (In other words, the strong performance of the OnePlus 9 series, particularly in European markets.)
While both OnePlus and Oppo fall under the umbrella of Chinese giant BBK Electronics — whose other tentacles include Vivo and Realme — the exact relationship between the two has been shrouded in some mystery. Over the years, the official line from OnePlus reps has been that it and Oppo merely shared the same investors. However, after leaving the firm, former employees would often speak of a much closer relationship, with some even claiming they were effectively the same company.
Over the years, the similarities between the brands' products only fuelled speculation, including fairly obvious copy-paste jobs like 2017's OnePlus 5 and Oppo R11.
However, things were in the past. Going forward, the link between OnePlus and Oppo is going to become a lot more public-facing. And that shouldn't come as too much of a surprise given the past OnePlus release cycle events. In mainland China, for instance, the OnePlus 9 series run Oppo's ColorOS out of the box.
OnePlus started as a tiny brand and a darling of smartphone enthusiasts. But as I've pointed out before, nobody gets into the phone business aiming to stay small. The past Oppo/OnePlus release cycle clearly demonstrates the firms' lofty goals for the OnePlus brand — the OnePlus 9 Pro is one of the best Android phones of the moment, beating Oppo's flagship in terms of charging speeds and camera performance. Looking at the two brands' combined line-up, you could make a strong case that OnePlus is now the premium brand.
And if OnePlus is to continue to compete at this level, challenging Samsung with its high-end offerings, it makes sense to pool resources with Oppo as much as possible. As OnePlus pushes forward with more advanced optics in its phone cameras, it makes sense for it not to be doing that in a vacuum.
As CEO Pete Lau writes (opens in new tab):
It's no surprise to see software singled out in this way. Outside of current-year flagship phones, OnePlus does not have a good reputation for its updates' quality or timeliness. Several major updates have been pulled due to bugs over the past year. OnePlus Nord owners were left waiting almost half a year longer than OnePlus 8 users for their Android 11 upgrade. And that's to say nothing of the garbage-tier update prospects for phones like the Nord N10 and N100.
In terms of short-term positive impact, this is the biggest area where the scale of Oppo should help.
But Lau's statement has also raised concerns among fans that the popular OxygenOS UI might be making way for ColorOS at some point in the future — particularly considering Oxygen has already been retired in China. Lau has unambiguously denied that this will be happening, saying, "OxygenOS will remain the operating system for global OnePlus devices outside of the China market."
Let's remember, though, that OxygenOS is ultimately just a brand name. The future form of OxygenOS, and its relationship to ColorOS, remains to be seen. And Android Central has heard that another design overhaul will be coming with the OxygenOS 12 release. Writing in his Nord CE review, AC Asia Editor Harish Jonnalagadda says:
That doesn't mean OnePlus will just slap a coat of paint on ColorOS 12 and call it OxygenOS. But it does suggest that, as OnePlus's software is no longer developed in a bubble, we may see more similarities in terms of feature set and even some design elements between its UI and Oppo's. Other BBK brands like Vivo and Realme are already moving in this direction.
More ColorOS influence in OxygenOS wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. Since the Western versions of Oppo's software became more polished over the past year, I've enjoyed using ColorOS on phones like the Find X2 Pro and Find X3 Pro. But OnePlus also needs to balance the relationship with its fans and their attachment to the way OnePlus phones look and feel. Lau, it seems, is well aware of this:
This week's "merger" announcement is a big opportunity for OnePlus, which is now far removed from the tiny enthusiast-focused brand behind 2014's OnePlus One. If it can leverage the extra scale of Oppo in terms of R&D and software development and speed up firmware updates while also keeping its fans happy, it could go from strength to strength in 2022.
But as it navigates its integration with Oppo, it should be cautious not to lose even more of the magic that made it a fan-favorite brand in the first place.
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Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.
I got myself a OPPO A72 a few months ago, it is a good phone, certainly for the price. Sure it will not compare to high-end phones, but that is because it is not a high-end phone, it is a budget phone and at £160, which is what I paid for it in the U.K it offers a lot. The camera is pretty good, not so sure about the amount of lenses on the back, never liked that idea, and I am not a fan of the 20:9 ratio and the larger size, but all phones are like that now.
Color OS is ok, it does what it does well and is pretty close to standard Android. The phone is plastic on the back, but I have a case on it, so not a problem, it is built well, certainly for the price. When I ordered it a friend of mine who was using a Iphone SE, like the look of it so much she ordered one there and then when we were in the car ready to go shopping. she loves it, large screen, great for GPS and navigating, great battery life.
i have never used a Oneplus, but certainly nothing wrong with Oppos..
I have a magnetic plug stuck in my Oppo and the cable just connects to it.