OxygenOS Review

How does the next chapter for OnePlus look?

OnePlus has had a decently controversial existence. One of the most often dissected and discussed controversies has been their relationship with Cyanogen. The strained relationship between the two new companies brought forth OxygenOS. OxygenOS is the in-house developed ROM by OnePlus themselves. Designed to be close to stock with some added customization(which sounds familiar). After way too much hype, some delays, and a lot of unanswered questions OxygenOS is finally here. Does the in-house ROM give OnePlus new room to grow, or is it further suffocation for the controversial company?

Just tuning into my OnePlus One coverage? Be sure to get caught up right here:

Installation & Setup

In a recent AMA, OnePlus outright stated that OxygenOS would not be an OTA update. This meant that if you wanted to change from CyanogenMod to OxygenOS, you would have to flash the OxygenOS ROM. While this was expected, it meant that some people uncomfortable with rooting and flashing ROMs would be left out to dry.Luckily, OnePlus has included a “How-To” guide for how to install OxygenOS. While the vernacular is a little on the technical side, it gets the job done.

Installation was straightforward enough. OEM Unlock, install a recovery, factory reset and flash the OxygenOS.zip. Setup on the other hand, was not as straightforward. After connecting to WiFi, I was prompted to sign into Google. This is normal for any Android device setup. I ran into issues here. I had to reboot my device to successfully sign into Google. A small gripe, but something to watch out for. Once the phone was set up, it was time to dissect what OnePlus has been working on.

Design & Customization

OxygenOS is based upon Android 5.0 Lollipop. I won’t rehash much of my thoughts on Lollipop here. If you’re curious about Google’s sweet OS, check out my full review here.

OxygenOS being based on 5.0 Lollipop brings vibrant colors and animations everywhere. In terms of design, OnePlus has wisely left the look and feel of Stock Android alone. There are no icon packs, no bloat, nothing. OnePlus has chose to let the beauty of Android 5.0 to speak for itself, rightfully so. But this is Android 5.0. Currently Nexus(and some other non-Nexus) devices are on 5.1. Android 5.1 fixed a multitude of bugs and added a few handy features to notifications and Quick Settings. Hopefully OnePlus pushes an Android 5.1-based update to OxygenOS soon.

This isn’t to say OnePlus has left the OS completely untouched. Along for the ride are a few customization options that are quite welcomed.

One of the most unique features of the OnePlus One was the ability to switch between hardware or software navigation buttons. The option is still present here. Just head to Settings and select Buttons. From there you can choose to customize your Home and Menu buttons. This isn’t anything different from CyanogenMod, but it being present here is a good thing.

Gestures have also made their way over from CyanogenMod to OxygenOS. You can double tap to wake, open your camera, toggle the flashlight, and control music. All without even turning your screen on. You can also pick and choose which gestures you want to utilize. An addition for those of us who are tired of explaining why our pockets are randomly lighting up or playing our Katy Perry Workout playlist .The ability to pick and choose which gestures to use is a welcomed addition.

If you head into the Quick Settings menu by swiping down from the top of the screen, you will see a small icon represented by four boxes. This is a quick and easy way to change your Quick Settings toggles. Rather than letting Android dynamically add toggles at will, this empowers the user to rearrange and hide toggles as they please. With the drop down notification tray, if you swipe down on the right side it will bring down Quick Settings. If you swipe down from the left, it brings down your notifications. Another feature transplanted from Cyanogen to Oxygen. But I have yet to figure out how to disable it(as it is not present in Stock Lollipop). Digging through the settings has brought no retribution, I do not think it can be disabled or toggled. Which is immensely frustrating.

In the multitasking menu, there is a big “X” by the Google Search bar, which will quickly clear all of your open apps. A great addition for those of us who hoard apps in the background.

You can also change the lockscreen wallpaper to be different from your regular wallpaper. I have no idea why Google does not include this, so here in OxygenOS it is a welcomed feature that was found in CyanogenMod.

The final feature I found to be quite useful that OnePlus added is the advanced power menu. OnePlus added a “Reboot” option, as opposed to the barren and lonely “Power Off” option found in Stock Android 5.0.

This is where the added features from OnePlus ends. There is not an immense amount of customization with OxygenOS. But OnePlus has already established their stance on what they want OxygenOS to be. They wanted OxygenOS to be very close to Stock Android with a few useful customization features built in. This is exactly what we have here with OxygenOS 1.0. I cannot complain at the omittance of customizing the colors on your display, setting governors, or controlling CPU frequencies. But the Theme Engine and Privacy Guard will be missed. Now, if those are features that are in your wheelhouse, Cyanogen will probably be better suited for you. But in my use with Cyanogen, I rarely used any features beyond what OxygenOS has here. In time, I believe OnePlus will add more features based around customization and control, but until then what we have with OxygenOS is just fine.


A ROM can be armed to the teeth with features, but if it is not stable, there is no need to flash it. Luckily, OxygenOS is buttery smooth. When using the OnePlus One with both CM11S and CM12 Nightlies, there were random bugs and crashes here and there.

OxygenOS is remarkably stable for 1.0 release. Actions are smooth and prompt, there is no lag to be found, and I have yet to have a single random reboot. I have to tip my hat to OnePlus here, OxygenOS is a stable OS. Moreso than CM11S and the CM12 nightlies(but those are nightlies, so) in my experience.

Another question I received was in relation to signal strength. The OnePlus One has been known to have a weaker than normal signal on CyanogenMod 11S. On OxygenOS, there seems to be some alleviation here. My download tests were equal to that of the Nexus 6, which is quite promising. Call quality is improved as well. The issue with headset volume seems to have been addressed, as the other end comes through loud and clear.

Battery Life

The OnePlus One has been praised for having class leading battery life. In my initial review, I was immensely impressed with the battery life. Out of the box the OnePlus One lasted 15 1/2hours with over four hours of screen on time. When I dove into the CyanogenMod 11S performance profiles, I was pushing 5 hours of screen on time. With OxygenOS, the magical stamina of the OnePlus One is still present(though not quite as robust). After a full day of constant use, my OnePlus One managed roughly 16 hours of usage with just over four and a half hours of screen on time(Even with the pesky Google Play Services wakelock bug). While this may not be the battery life you get with Kernels, system monitoring and whatever else intense tinkering gets you; the OnePlus One with OxygenOS is sitting right in line with battery life I was seeing on CM11S and CM12 Nightlies.

Many of us have been anxiously waiting for the release of OxygenOS. With the hype, marketing, and aura of mystery surrounding it there was more than one reason to be nervous. Going forward OxygenOS will be the future for OnePlus with the OnePlus One and any future devices. In their first foray into software, they have done a splendid job. OxygenOS 1.0 is a fantastic foundation for the next chapter of OnePlus. It simply gets a lot of things right and the OS has plenty of room to grow.

OxygenOS marks an interesting balance between power and simplicity. It falls in between Stock Android and CyanogenMod in respects to customization and control. OnePlus claimed they wanted to differentiate themselves from Cyanogen with OxygenOS and I believe they have done just that. While some might argue that OxygenOS doesn’t do enough, I believe it does just enough to be useful without being overbearing. For the power users and tinkerers, CyanogenMod is likely your cup of tea. But for those of us who want our phones to work and work well with minimal fuss, OxygenOS is a great option. The future for OnePlus just became a little brighter because of OxygenOS, it’s simply that good.

Remember to follow me on Twitter & Google+ for all of my Tech Reviews, Features, and more!

And I’m on Instagram and Smugmug! I post tech, coffee, and my photography there. If that’s your gig, hit that follow button there, too!

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.