OnePlus explains why it moved away from stock Android

Oneplus Nord Vs Pixel 4a
Oneplus Nord Vs Pixel 4a (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • OnePlus is moving OxygenOS away from a stock Android design to one that hews more closely towards Samsung's OneUI.
  • The company says the move is part of a desire to improve stock Android.
  • OxygenOS's redesign is intended to improve one-hand usability on large devices, a space the company says Google's own software isn't good at.

OxygenOS is getting a redesign with version 11, and it has proved to be controversial with fans. The software is moving away from what one could see as a system inspired by Google's stock Android to one that more closely resembles other Android OEMs.

OnePlus today shared the reasoning behind that, writing on their official forums:

As screens increase in size, so does the unused white space. We wanted to make the most of that space while keeping the interface easy to use. We conducted A/B testing with our users to determine the best size of the headline, and found that 65% prefer slightly smaller headlines. Also, 80% of users tested preferred titles with subtitles rather than without. The result is a new headline-body hierarchy that streamlines information delivery in OxygenOS 11.

The company further noted that the changes were also being done to adapt Android to one-handed mobile use:

We also know that stock Android hasn't been optimized for one-handed usage on a larger display, so we set out to make it easier for you to use. We analyzed how people use phones and looked at anthropometric data to design a UI for more comfortable one-handed use.Since people hold their phones at the bottom, it's naturally more difficult to reach the top of the phone. The updated layout of OxygenOS 11 now moves the touch controls closer to your thumbs for easier access as soon as you open a menu.

OxygenOS's one-handed design

Source: OnePlus (Image credit: Source: OnePlus)

As far as design philosophies go, it's not a novel one. Samsung's OneUI was created with the same reasoning in mind, and Huawei's EMUI magazine redesign was also built to be more suitable for one-handed use. As phones grow bigger, Google's stock Android indeed lacks many of the adaptions that OEMs have made to accommodate them — including features Apple's more restricted iOS offers.

Despite all that, OnePlus stands to disappoint fans, many of whom have chosen it for its stock Android-like looks and even affectionately refer it as stock+. While OnePlus has never been shy about trying to improve on stock Android, some forum users have expressed that they find a visual change like this a bridge too far.

Michael Allison