OxygenOS continues to be one of the best third-party skins on Android, and with OxygenOS 11, the software is getting a major visual overhaul. While OxygenOS has the same look and feel across the world, OnePlus customers in India get a little extra in terms of features.
India is OnePlus' largest global market, and the company has a huge R&D facility in Hyderabad that works on localization and new feature additions to OxygenOS. Because of the large (and vocal) userbase, OnePlus uses the Indian market as a testbed for its latest software features.
A good example is the OnePlus Messages app. OnePlus introduced the ability to filter spam messages, automatically sort texts into categories — transactional, promotional, personal — and rolled out cards for things like movie tickets and credit card payments that make it easier to view the relevant information.
A lot of these features were first seen on Microsoft's excellent SMS Organizer, but by integrating them into the Messages app, OnePlus significantly improved the default messaging experience on its phones. The app debuted in India over a year ago, and made its way to the Play Store last month, giving OnePlus users in other markets access to all the additional features.
Here's a look at some of the OxygenOS features that are currently exclusive to the Indian market.
Red Cable Club is a loyalty program for the OnePlus community
OnePlus has a loyalty program for its community in India called the Red Cable Club. OnePlus bundles a red charging cable in the box with every phone, and the cable is pretty distinctive. The loyalty program allows OnePlus fans and customers access to exclusive perks — like launch event invites (when events were still a thing) — OnePlus merchandise, discount vouchers for OnePlus phones and accessories, and so on.
Red Cable Club members accumulate points by linking their phones to the program and purchasing products on OnePlus — 100% of the spend value will go toward points. So if you're buying the OnePlus Nord for ₹24,999, you'll get 24,999 points.
These points can be used for future discounts and other perks. There's also Red Cable Privé, a new rewards platform that lets users pick up OnePlus merchandise and gift cards to the likes of Uber, Starbucks, Zomato, and others.
One of the key benefits to linking your phone with Red Cable Club is the extended warranty, with OnePlus adding six months to the warranty of your device at no extra charge. OnePlus also offers 50GB of cloud storage for free to customers.
OnePlus recently overhauled the Red Cable Club program and introduced three membership tiers, with each tier offering exclusive benefits. Here's the breakdown:
- Explorer: This is the entry-level tier, and everyone can sign up for free by going to the OnePlus India website. You get ₹100 off any product on OnePlus India, and get to access Red Cable Privé.
- Insider: Pick up 3,000 points and you'll progress to the Insider tier. Members in this tier get 1% discount on accessories, ₹250 off when picking up a OnePlus phone or TV, and be eligible for invites to launch events and exclusive merchandise.
- Elite: The Elite tier is limited to enthusiast OnePlus fans, and needs 30,000 points. Members in the Elite tier get a 2% discount on all accessories, ₹500 off product purchases on OnePlus, and get to be the first to pick up new products, like the OnePlus 8T.
OnePlus automatically upgraded all existing members as of September 22, 2020 to the Elite tier, with validity lasting 12 months.
OnePlus has a cloud storage platform in India
In addition to Red Cable Club, OnePlus has a cloud storage service that offers 50GB of storage for free. The service is linked to the Red Cable Club and you have to register to be able to access the storage. The OnePlus Cloud storage service works the same way as Google Photos — you'll be able to automatically back up photos and videos to the cloud. You can also back up documents and notes to the cloud.
The downside is that unlike Google's offering — which works on all Android phones — OnePlus' cloud storage solution is limited to OnePlus phones. So if you see yourself using OnePlus phones in the future and want to get in on the action, sign up for the Red Cable Club by heading into your phone's settings to claim 50GB of free storage. That 50GB tier is a limited-time offer, so best hurry.
OnePlus is also giving the option to purchase additional storage, should you wish to do so. You can pick up an additional 50GB, 120GB, or 1TB of storage. Here's the breakdown:
- 50GB: ₹75 monthly, ₹225 for three months, ₹450 for six months, ₹900 annually
- 100GB: ₹140 monthly, ₹420 for three months, ₹840 for six months, ₹1,680 annually
- 1TB: ₹560 monthly, ₹1,680 for three months, ₹3,360 for six months, ₹6,720 annually
Basically, you're not getting any added incentive when switching to a long-term plan versus paying monthly for OnePlus' cloud storage. Obviously, you're better off using Google One as a cloud storage service, and in addition to being available on all platforms, Google One is more affordable than OnePlus' cloud storage plans. Here's how much you'll pay if you go with Google One:
- 200GB: ₹210 monthly, ₹2,100 annually
- 2TB: ₹650 monthly, ₹6,500 annually
Google One gives you the ability to back up all data on your phone, and is a comprehensive cloud storage solution. I don't really see the value in going with OnePlus for cloud storage, but that particular option is available for Indian customers.
OnePlus Scout is a unified search feature
OnePlus Scout is an interesting new addition that brings unified search to the app drawer. You'll be able to search for apps, contacts, locally-stored music, photos, or videos, and documents. You can also search for your favorite artists in streaming services like Spotify, but that feature didn't work for me.
A particularly useful inclusion is the ability to search for nearby points of interest — including restaurants, coffee shops, and the like — using Scout. It will pull up nearby listings from Zomato, Maps, and other services, giving you an easy way to see what's available in your vicinity. OnePlus Scout is now live, and if you don't see the feature yet, you'll need to make sure that the OnePlus Launcher is on version 4.7.2 or above.
Work-Life Balance lets you tune out distractions
Work-Life Balance is another interesting addition that was first introduced with OxygenOS 9.5. The feature lets you create two modes — Work and Life — and you get to whitelist apps that send you notifications in either mode.
Don't want to deal with Facebook or Instagram notifications during the workday? Then you can disable those apps in Work mode and won't get any notifications. Similarly, you can turn off alerts for Slack or other office-related messaging services in Life mode. You get the ability to schedule when either mode kicks in, and the feature is astonishingly useful at cutting out distractions.
OnePlus has a distinct edge over its competitors in terms of the overall software experience, and OxygenOS continues to get better with time. That's particularly true if you're using a OnePlus phone in India, as you get to try out the latest software features before everyone else. OnePlus makes some of the best Android phones you can buy today, and it offers a software experience to match the enticing hardware.
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