Project Treble is one of the most exciting developments in recent memory. The low-level re-architecture in the way Android works still has a lot of changes to come (we’ll see a lot of information about that when the full Android P release is available), but it has already led to a “revolution” of sorts in custom AOSP-based ROM development. That’s because of the fact that Treble support allows for a device to flash a Generic System Image (GSI) based on AOSP, and will make it easier to upgrade to a newer version of Android in the future. We’ve seen a handful of devices receive Treble support unofficially, and the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T are the latest in that list.
Previously, OnePlus (and Nokia) said that they wouldn’t be able to update their existing smartphone line-up with Treble support. This is because their existing devices lacked a dedicated vendor partition, and the companies decided that repartitioning over an OTA update wasn’t something they wanted to risk doing. However, there’s actually an unused 1.5GB partition on the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T called “last_parti” that developers have tested turning into a make-shift vendor partition (you actually just need to rename it.) Now, another developer has taken that script and finished the rest of the work needed to “Trebelize” the latest OnePlus flagship devices.
That developer, XiNGRZ, is part of the Mokee ROM team, and the commits he made show how he was able to Trebelize the OnePlus 5 and 5T. He ran the script to create the vendor partition from that unused partition, moved all of the HALs from /system/vendor, and then binderized the HALs to be Treble compliant. Doing this, he was able to boot a Resurrection Remix GSI as he showed on his Weibo account.
Thanks to his work, if you flash the latest nightly build of the Mokee ROM for the OnePlus 5 (download here) or OnePlus 5T (download here), your device will unofficially become Project Treble compatible. After you do this, you can then choose to flash any GSI currently available, which includes XDA Recognized Developer phhusson‘s pure AOSP, LineageOS 15.1, or Resurrection Remix ROMs (as shown above). A user on our forums, XDA Senior Member Yousvel, has shown that this works.
Our take: This will likely not make a huge difference for existing OnePlus 5 and 5T owners. There was a lot of outrage at OnePlus when the company announced that they wouldn’t update their devices with Treble support, however, much of that outrage was misplaced. For the OnePlus devices, there is already a healthy developer community surrounding them with multiple AOSP-based ROMs already available.
Treble’s benefits to the custom ROM community is better seen on devices with little to no developer scene, such as on Huawei/Honor phones or phones with smaller audiences such as the Razer Phone. While it’s nice to see such development effort on the OnePlus devices, it’s not as if the scene depended on it. In addition, with the changes made to Android P (finishing up work on versioned VNDK), there will still need to be work done on this Treble “port” before it will be future-proof.
Lastly, while Treble support may make a difference in how fast OnePlus updates their devices, there’s no guarantee that it will. Both devices were recently updated with the April security patches, so it seems that the only thing determining how fast these devices are updated is OnePlus itself. Once Android P is more widely available, we’ll see whether or not Treble support makes a difference with the upcoming OnePlus 6.