OnePlus recently released its first Android 7.0 beta build for the OnePlus 3, bringing the phone up to the latest (stable) version of the Android, while also including features from OxygenOS 3.5 on the OnePlus 3T. Because the OnePlus 3 and 3T are set to remain on the same software track going forwards, the experience on the OnePlus 3T should be the same when the update arrives for both phones later this month.
So what's new? If you've already been using OxygenOS 3.5 — either in community build form on the 3, or as a stable build on the 3T, many features will already be familiar. (For example, the redesigned home screen launcher and updated widget shelf.)
But there are also plenty of other changes, both big and small.
First, the most obvious changes: Android 7.0 brings a completely redesigned notification area, together with revamped notifications, inline reply support, split-screen multi-window and a new double-tap shortcut for switching between the last two apps. OnePlus was already working towards Nougat-style quick settings in OxygenOS 3.5, and so there isn't much of a visual change compared to the OnePlus 3T's quick settings menu.
And the Settings menu has been redesigned to bring it in line with Android 7.0, with a slide-out navigation area allowing you to jump between settings panes. (Elsewhere in the Settings app, it's now possible to customize which icons appear in the status bar, though for some reason the unsightly NFC and VoLTE graphics aren't included in this list.)
There's a subtle hint of Google Pixel about OnePlus's tweaked color scheme.
There's a subtle hint of Google Pixel to OnePlus's updated interface as well. The quick settings area gets new blue accent colors, and these can also be seen in the quick settings area and other menu toggles throughout the UI.
Nougat also brings built-in display (DPI) scaling, making it easier to see more (or less) on screen at a time. There are five different scaling levels — the default "medium" level is the same as on Marshmallow, while the second-smallest "small" level basically mirrors the scaling of the Pixel. (Text, menus and graphics shrink down a little to allow more on screen.) The OnePlus 3's UI has always been a little oversized, so this is a welcome change.
DPI scaling also affects the OnePlus launcher — "small" and "smallest" give you five icons per row, while the others stick with the default four.
Speaking of the launcher, the OxygenOS 4.0 home screen setup brings across all the features of the OnePlus 3T, while also introducing a handful of additional tweaks. The persistent Google search bar has gone away, replaced with a standard widget. (This also gives you more space for your own widgets, since disabling the search bar would previously just leave a section of dead space up top.)
A new, optional simplified home screen setup gets rid of some of the clutter.
And interestingly, an optional new "simplified layout" gives you an alternative to the standard app drawer-based home screen. There's simple scrolling panel of icons, with a basic clock widget up top. Your main home screen panel houses your favorite nine (or twelve, depending on scaling) apps, while the rest live off on the right. Widgets are confined to the widget shelf, and there's a new tool for rearranging apps into groups or folders.
You can switch between the normal home screen layout and simplified view at any time.
In other areas, OxygenOS 4.0 continues where 3.5 left off, with a similar basic feature set, and the lightning-fast performance we've come to expect from these phones. That there's not a mountain of new stuff to see in the OnePlus 3 Nougat update is a testament to the company's software strategy — layering meaningful features on top of Android without getting in the way. For many of us here at AC, the most important change is DPI scaling — being able to scale down and see more on screen is a breath of fresh air.
The OxygenOS 4.0 beta, based on Android 7.0 Nougat, is now available for the OnePlus 3. The OnePlus 3T isn't included in the beta, but will get the final Nougat update around the same time as its predecessor. From then on, OnePlus promises simuntaneous updates for both phones.
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