OxygenOS 12 (Android 12) beta rolls out to the OnePlus 9, 9 Pro — here's your first look

OxygenOS 12 Zen Mode
OxygenOS 12 Zen Mode (Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

With the stable Android 12 version now available, manufacturers are integrating the build into their custom skins. OnePlus is introducing the first beta for OxygenOS 12 based on Android 12, starting with the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro.

With OnePlus merging the OxygenOS codebase with ColorOS and working on a new unified OS that's set to launch with the OnePlus 10 series early next year, OxygenOS 12 is the last version of OnePlus' custom skin. The OxygenOS 11.3 build on the Nord 2 gave us a first look at what the ColorOS integration would look like, and OxygenOS 12 takes things to the next level.

The interface gets a redesign that's in line with ColorOS 12, offering a cleaner layout with increased spacing and less information density. OnePlus says the interface offers a "safe and chill place" for its users, and that the new design makes the UI easier to use and more readable:

Visually, the change of light indicates a clearer distance, while hierarchy and interspersed relationships enhance readability and ease of use. In addition, the soft light and shadow minimize the unnecessary distractions in the UI, thus providing a more immersive and comfortable experience.

OxygenOS 12 Dark Mode

Source: OnePlus (Image credit: Source: OnePlus)

In terms of new additions, OxygenOS 12 picks up a lot of features from ColorOS, including customizable dark mode with three levels — Gentle, Medium, and Enhanced. The feature debuted last year with ColorOS 11, and OxygenOS 12 is retaining the mode with the labels intact.

OxygenOS 12 Private Mode Zen Mode

Source: OnePlus (Image credit: Source: OnePlus)

As I revealed a few months ago, OxygenOS 12 is getting the Private Safe feature from ColorOS 11 that lets you hide sensitive documents, images, and more in a password-protected vault. ColorOS' game toolbox is also included by default within OxygenOS 12.

OxygenOS 12 Canvas

Source: OnePlus (Image credit: Source: OnePlus)

Canvas AOD is getting a refresh with new styles, and there's now a new Notes client has a fresh design and doubles up as a to-do list service, and you can also doodle to take notes.

OxygenOS 12 Notes

Source: OnePlus (Image credit: Source: OnePlus)

OnePlus says it simplified the UI based on "geometric deconstruction" to make it more inclusive for users in different regions. With OnePlus' phones sold in over 30 countries and OxygenOS available in a few dozen languages, the goal is to make the interface seamless regardless of the language. OxygenOS 12 relies on neumorphism — a modern take on skeuomorphism — for a new icon layout with increased shadows and subtle gradients that differentiates it from its predecessor.

OxygenOS 12 Shelf

Source: OnePlus (Image credit: Source: OnePlus)

Shelf continues to be a feature that's well-liked by fans, and OxygenOS 12 sees the inclusion of feature cards and better customizability. There's also a new Health card that gives you details on calories burned, heart rate, and other metrics when connected to the OnePlus Watch. OnePlus' Scout search feature that debuted in India is now making its global foray, with the feature baked into the Shelf.

OxygenOS 12 Work Life

Source: OnePlus (Image credit: Source: OnePlus)

On the subject of India-focused features that are making their way to global devices, there's Work-Life Balance 2.0. The feature has been a mainstay on OxygenOS in India for over two years (launching with OxygenOS 9.5), and lets you set up work and personal profiles on your phone. You can tailor each profile so that notifications like Instagram and Twitter don't show up when you're in work mode, and similarly mute work-related messaging services when you switch over to the personal profile.

The OxygenOS 12 public beta is now rolling out to the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro, so if you're interested in taking a look at all the new features, you can head to the forums and get the download links to install it on your OnePlus phone. The beta will make its way to older devices in the coming weeks and months, and the stable build should be available before the end of 2021.

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Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is Android Central's Senior Editor of Asia. In his current role, he oversees the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, networking products, and AV gear. He has been testing phones for over a decade, and has extensive experience in mobile hardware and the global semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.