OxygenOS is one of the better OEM ROMs for those enthusiasts who prefer a cleaner Android experience. It certainly isn’t identical to “Stock Android”, but it’s aesthetically minimal and light on features, so such comparisons are often made by both reviewers and Android fans. OnePlus claims that it’s proud to build a ROM for its customers, largely based on direct customer feedback enabled by their OxygenOS beta builds. But how much has changed with the OnePlus 6, and how much of that change is for the better?
In this article, we will quickly go over all the small changes we’ve found in OxygenOS for the OnePlus 6 when compared to the latest stable OxygenOS build based on Android 8.1 Oreo. Keep in mind that some of these features might already be present in part or in full in beta builds by the time you read this, and many of them could arrive to OxygenOS builds for older OnePlus devices. While the OnePlus 6 doesn’t introduce that many new software features, there are a few interesting changing you might’ve missed by looking at last week’s hands-on articles or today’s reviews — and not all of them are positive. Without further ado, let’s list what’s new!
UI Changes – Notch Thanks…
There actually aren’t many UI changes in the OnePlus 6’s version of OxygenOS, just like the 5T didn’t bring that many changes over the 5. It mostly looks the same as the Android 8.1 build users received not too long ago, but some adjustments have been made in order to accomodate for the taller display as well as the notch at the top. Users will quickly notice that the clock has been moved from the top right corner of the display to the top left corner, a change that also made its way to the Android P beta builds for the Pixel and Pixel 2 XL. This is likely so that the status bar icons on the left side, which are largely more important than a bunch of notifications, have more screen real estate to work with.
Even with that change, though, you’ll notice that most of the time the status bar icons will “overflow” past the notch, with three dots representing that there’s more to see. So just how do you look at all the icons that the notch prevents from showing? A simple swipe to reveal the notification shade will bring reveal the icons under the battery icon, which also shows the battery percentage. While we are at it, OnePlus has actually removed the ability to display the battery percentage on the status bar itself, likely because doing so further takes up limited space to the right of the notch. All of these changes are small concessions OnePlus had to make when designing the status bar and notification shades for the OnePlus 6, which is kind of disappointing to see.
Notch Display Settings
Speaking of the notch, there’s the ability to “simulate” a black bezel in order to hide the notch, similar to what Huawei and LG are doing with their P20 Pro and G7 notched smartphones. For the most part this works rather well and the effect is convincing. You still get the benefit of additional screen area for applications given that the status bar icons become part of the bezel, and it can look kind of neat — almost as if the status bar icons are like extra notification LEDs. That said, the illusion is quickly broken the moment you swipe from the notification bar, as the notification shade is still drawn under the notch but above the status bar. Another thing that those with OCD among you will notice is that the simulated bezel ends up being a smidgen taller than the bottom bezel thanks to the notch’s height, which makes the device look slightly unbalanced. It also doesn’t simulate “rounded corners”, so you end up having rounded corners at the bottom but not at the top — kind of like a reverse Essential Phone.
In order for apps to use the entirety of the screen, you’ll also have to whitelist the app specifically in the settings menu (and this only works if the notch is not “disabled”). This would allow you, for example, to watch YouTube videos with the notch cutting into the side. In the future, OnePlus will reportedly offer users a way to turn off the notch completely, presumably by changing the screen resolution to only render below the notch.
Alert Slider Behavior Change
Fans rejoice! You might remember that when Do Not Disturb was widely introduced, OnePlus changed their alert slider behavior to enable Do Not Disturb mode instead of silencing the device. This caused fans to issue petition after petition in forum threads and reddit, and OnePlus itself created a poll surrounding the issue. While the change hadn’t made it to beta builds of OxygenOS, the OnePlus 6 restores the alert slider to its former glory by allowing you to silence the phone, including all media if you so choose, when swiping the alert slider to the top position. Now, I’d still prefer more customization options, but there’s none of that yet — instead, the settings menu reflects the change by allowing you to scarcely configure the “silent”, “vibration” and “ring” settings. Silent customization no longer lets you toggle “enable vibration”, which is kind of a bummer.
Alert Slider Visual Cues
A neat little feature is that when toggling the different alert slider positions, a small visual cue shows you which change took place right to the left of the (re-positioned) alert slider on the right of the device. This is a nice touch that also makes it to the Android P beta, which I thought would look consistent with the P beta’s power-off and volume menus which also pop up from the side. Alas, the volume menu in the Android P beta is not like the one found in the Pixel build, and it instead uses a… brightness slider asset.
A/B Partitions for updates
Not only is the OnePlus 6 treble-enabled by default, that feature happens to come hand-in-hand with the A/B partitioning system that makes updates easier and safer to install. You can try it out when installing the Android P beta or rolling back to OxygenOS, though chances are you’ll see how smoothly it works before that as I’m sure new OnePlus 6 owners will be greeted by a handful of OTAs. While some fear that this might lead to some difficulties with flashing custom ROMs and the like, I’d advise users to wait and see.
We’ll be doing a dedicated camera comparison and analysis in the near future, but for now what you need to know is that OnePlus is advertising a handful of new or improved features. One such feature is their “Advanced HDR” algorithm, which should result in clearer pictures with better colors. They’ve also managed to pull off portrait mode for the device’s front camera, and they’ve included some new effects such as hearts and other nonsense for those who love silly selfies (sorry for being judgemental here, I’ll just never use this feature).
OnePlus has included a video editor that makes it easy for you to quickly trim your clips, though at the moment it doesn’t do many useful things beyond that. You can also add a variety of filters as well as generic backgrounds music from a bunch of genres. While it’s not extremely complete yet, this is probably something OnePlus can improve upon in future releases and having it at all is very useful, similarly to how their image editor can make sharing screenshots super simple.
This new menu has a few nice features for wired and wireless earbuds. You can enable call information broadcasting to know whether a call is worth picking up or not, and you can choose whether the notification ringtone should play whether you are on ring mode, any mode or never. There’s also the toggle to sync headset and device volume when connecting to bluetooth, which is pretty self-explanatory, as well as “auto play” which enables you to resume media the moment you reconnect earphones. This is actually the mechanism behind the Bullets Wireless earphones’ ability to automatically resume media, something which OnePlus hadn’t mentioned in their original press release (besides stating that the feature only worked with OnePlus devices).
Lift Up Display…?
Ambient display has been renamed to “lift up display”… Other than the name change, it works the same way as before, with the ability to set up a custom message that others will likely not have time to read. Maybe always-on display is on the horizon? Hmm .
Charging Rapidly, Not Dash Charging
A small wording change related to recent news is that when plugging in a Dash Charger, the phone now broadcasts it is “charging rapidly”, and not Dash Charging. This reportedly springs from a copyright issue with Amazon in the UK, and it might mean that OnePlus is deciding to retire the popular Dash Charge branding. They’ve also used the term “fast charging” for their Bullets Wireless promotional material, though that might just be because those earbuds do not requiring a Dash Charger brick to fast charge and can instead charge rapidly with most bricks.
Gaming Mode Network Boost
Gaming Do Not Disturb Mode became Gaming Mode once it gained some more quality-of-life features, and now it’s being expanded a bit further. Not only can you add framerate caps and lower the resolution of games to conserve battery as on the 5T, but you can also use “network boost” to prioritize your active game with the intention of reducing the odds of latency messing up your plays. This is a nice little addition as more “esport-friendly” games like Fortnite and Player Unknown: Battlegrounds make it to mobile.
Status Bar Customization Changes, Volume Sync, OnePlus Switch Extra
Another few things that have been removed, likely because of the added notch, are the ability to add a battery percentage to the status bar (already mentioned) and the ability to either hide the time, or have it display seconds. Another small change is the ability to link ringtone volume and media volume so that both are controlled at the same time with the volume keys, which might prove more convenient to some users. Finally, OnePlus switch has been integrated into the “Advanced” menu in the settings.
We hope that this has given you an idea of what changes you can expect on the OnePlus 6, and what the future of OxygenOS looks like moving forward. We’ll be adding more features and small tips or tricks as we find them, but for now, stay tuned for in-depth coverage (like our performance review!) coming through the week.