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With a single update, OnePlus ruined OxygenOS for me

OxygenOS 11 Always-on Display
OxygenOS 11 Always-on Display (Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The first OxygenOS 11 preview is now available, and there's a lot to take in. Recent updates to OxygenOS have focused on feature additions, with the core UI remaining unchanged for a few generations. But with OxygenOS 11, OnePlus is introducing a new design that's similar to Samsung's One UI, with the brand signaling a shift away from the stock Android UI that set OxygenOS apart over the last four years.

Without burying the lede, I don't like the changes one bit. I'm not bashing OnePlus just for the sake of it; I choose to use OnePlus devices for a majority of the year because of the clean software. OnePlus did a magnificent job of offering a clutter-free interface that had its roots in stock Android, and that's what attracted a lot of enthusiasts to the brand. When Google ditched the Nexus program, OnePlus devices became the de facto alternative because of the software and value on offer.

Source: Android Central

That's why it's frustrating to see the direction the manufacturer is taking with OxygenOS 11. The crux of the issue is that the new visual layout deviates a lot from the stock look and feel of earlier versions of OxygenOS, with the changes affecting a lot of the core UI elements. The notification panel is unchanged, but that may not be the case in future releases as OnePlus asserts its own visual identity.

Source: Android Central

At its core, OxygenOS managed to strike the ideal balance between simplicity and customizability, with the skin appealing to both novice users and enthusiasts alike. Unlike Samsung's One UI, you didn't have to fiddle around with a thousand settings to get OxygenOS set up to your liking, but if you needed powerful customization options, the skin had plenty to offer.

If you like a stock Android interface, you'll have to look elsewhere.

With OxygenOS 11, that balance has shifted. The Samsung-ificiation of the software extends to the inconsistent UX, with no coherent design aesthetic to the skin as a whole. I just don't like the comically large headers or the increased font size, the gallery app has a tabbed interface that's different to the dialer, and the weather client just looks bad with the oversized text. At the end of the day, the controversial design changes overshadow the new feature additions like always-on display.

The worst part is that OnePlus didn't steal any of the standout features in One UI, like floating windows or a one-handed mode that's easy to use. Instead, it just emulated the design, and did a poor job at that. OnePlus has limited engineering resources, and it could have diverted them to fixing the camera inconsistencies on its phones instead.

Source: Android Central

So where does that leave you if you've been using OnePlus phones because of the clean software? Your best options are Motorola and HMD Global, but given the state of Motorola's software updates, you're better off with the latter. The recent $230 million investment from Google and Qualcomm into HMD will see the Finnish manufacturer roll out more phones, particularly in the U.S.

With a single version update, OnePlus undid a lot of the good work it put into OxygenOS over the last four years. It's clear that the manufacturer is paving the path for its own visual identity when it comes to the software, and that means you'll have to find another brand if you value a clean software interface. As for me, I just became much more interested in the Nokia 8.3.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

27 Comments
  • "OnePlus commits the cardinal sin of fixing something that wasn't broken in the first place." Wrong.
    Everything is broken in Google's designs. Stock Android is outdated and completely inept at dealing with the ridiculous screen sizes of phablets and tablets these days. And that's because Google can't design good software even if their lives depended on it. So OnePlus, instead of waiting for Google to suddenly become good at design, did the smart thing and just copied the best version of Android currently available, which is Samsung's. Problem solved.
  • The internet really is a magical place, we managed to find the one person who actually likes Samsung software!
  • Samsung sells the most phones of any other company and only one person likes the interface. That's Vulcan level logic there people.
  • Huawei is the new boss!;D
  • By default. Very little in 2020 counts. Let's see them do it in a non apocalyptic year.
  • Sure, if you don't mind being cut off from any Google services.
  • The whole of Android is outdated and inept at the things that matter to me. Polished apps experience, ease of use. Unoptimised apps along with poor software support plus privacy and security issues makes me glad I’m back where I belong, with the superior iPhone.
  • I never understood the appeal of going on a board for a competing phone/computer/game system/whatever and constantly trolling.
  • The Oneplus 6T is looking like my first and only device from them.
  • One Plus has a history of abandonning its loyal users. OP1 stopped upgrading its software and after the dust up its original software only issued one Oxygen release. Then the ill-fated OPX with no updates, followed by the OP2 that lacked NFC and was dumped for the OP3. I owned OP1 and OP2. Never again OP.
  • It's tough to be a early adapter. OnePlus was out in a really bad place with CyanogenMod, removing NFC was a bad idea and the one X just didn't sell. The beginning is always rocky for any company, but they now have software support that's really only rivaled by the Pixel line. You probably won't but I think they deserve more of a chance than your narrow view. PS. This is not Abandoning their users, it's evolving their software. Raising process wasn't abandoning them either, I was in the forums, OnePlus users clamored for three features they added to the pro. But they are unreasonable and don't want to pay for those features. They are even releasing the Nord line, yes it's partially to grow market share, but it's also a definite olive branch to former OnePlus fans who want something more budget friendly. If you ask me, OnePlus tries really hard to keep users happy. Unfortunately their user base which consists primarily of tech enthusiasts are almost impossible to keep happy.
  • Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but this is your second article. Look I'm not a Samsung fan, but their is some merit to the reachability idea they had in their design with phones getting taller and taller. So what if they borrow that, while I don't like one UI over all, reachability is a good idea. It's not like OxygenOS is suddenly going to use half your ram and bog the system down. It will still be a stock ROM focused on speed and meaningful customizations and improvements, that's what MATTERS about OxygenOS, not some arbitrary design Google made that purists think everyone needs to follow. People do come up with better designs than Google, Google isn't infallible. A large majority hated Androids design before material design came out.
    And those stock apps, you don't like them? Just replace them and disable the OxygenOS stick app. I replaced a number of OnePlus stock apps with Google's app, not for design but functionally. If you need everything to match the Pixel, just buy a Pixel.
  • Thanks OnePlus for giving me yet another reason to never return to Android. I’m so happy with my iPhone 11 Pro Max which is so much smoother browsing this miserable website. Typing this from my iPhone 11 Pro Max.
  • Nobody cares about your opinion.Just as people are satisfied with oneplus. You like apple so stop being annoying. This is like your third comment already.
  • Think of how empty his life must be to constantly troll boards for a product he doesn't even own.
  • I ACTUALLY own an 11 Pro Max you ******* idiot. Reading comprehension isn't your strong suit is it ? Fandroid, what part of typing this from my Android didn't you understand you dumb droid? And as for you Eiab Agbavor you think your opinion matters to me? I couldn't care less what any of your Android gutter trashe think. I'll never post on this **** infested website again. You and your cheap looking Android phones are welcome to each other.
  • Don't mind them Beno. They're just hating cause they're jealous you got the best A13 bionic powered iPhone.
  • Thanks I meant to say that I was typing on my 11 Pro Max at the time lol. I'm still done with this miserable site.
  • Apparently other people's opinions do matter to you if you are responding in such a vulgar way. Also, if you're talking about cheap looking, take a look at your notch. This post was made by the OnePlus 7 Pro gang with a notch-less 1440p 90Hz display that Apple still can't match.
  • No they ******* don't when they dismiss the iPhone and refuse to understand why people continue to choose iPhones over Android. I don't ******* care about the highier refresh rate or 1440p resolution as 1080p is enough for me and Apple won't bring a highier refresh rate to the iPhone until then feel the time is right. And I like the notch as it's not as bad as you think as Face ID is the gold standard for face unlock which no Android phone can match, and it's not only face unlock that Android can't match, it's the optimisation, simplicity and ease of use, the Mega ecosystem and everyone knows that Android is **** on tablets and that iPads blow the inferior ****** Android tablets out of the water. I'm done with talking to you and fellow Android snobs and won't be responding again you people are welcome to each other and not **** off Apple is way more interesting than Android.
  • lmao retarded apple fans, why are you here? no one cares about your ****** phones. well, we all know you don't have apple devices anyway.
  • I’m typing this on my 11 Pro Max you ******* Fandroid retard whether you believe me or not I don’t give a ****.
  • Thanks for covering this - I must say it's an incredibly disappointing decision by OnePlus. Those screenshots just look appalling. My OP6 is on the update list but can't say I'm looking forward to it now. A real shame. PS "burying the lede" - never heard that expression ever before (seems to be US idiom) but I like the concept!
  • If you're running Oxygen OS 10, as I am right now, it's literally no different. I really don't understand what the fuss is all about. They just added a title to most pages by the looks of it, which actually, on a phone as large as the OP 7 Pro allows you to reach the top of a list without having to use two hands or shifting your grip.
  • Clearly this writer hasn't used a lot of phones.
  • Yeah. I think you are the minority. I love this new update. I love everything about it. The only thing I don't like is the power menu, and the way I have to relearn taking a screenshot. I now have to use the three-finger swipe down method, that's a small price to pay for the new beautiful UI
  • If you don't like the look of the new OxygenOS, the Play Store has plenty of free or low-cost launchers you can download and use instead. Nova, in particular, is very popular.