First impressions of Android 10 on the OnePlus 7 Pro — OxygenOS continues to be one of the best OEM ROMs in the business
OnePlus has started rolling-out the new OxygenOS update based on Android 10 in a staged manner for users of the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro. Earlier this month, OnePlus released the first OxygenOS version based on Android 10 in open beta for those interesting in taking a dip in rough waters. Subsequently, the company released the second open beta version that brought in some much-needed bug fixing. We have been testing out the new OxgenOS version over the past few weeks and we found quite a few developments that will please most users alongside a few quirks.
A smarter Ambient Display
The Ambient Display is now a bit more informative. In addition to notification icons, you can now see the currently playing song directly on the Ambient Display itself. Also, the Ambient Display can now display weather and calendar information depending on the specific time and location. The information is not super-detailed, yet it comes across as a handy feature at times when you just don't want to take the trouble of unlocking the screen.
A nearly universal Dark Mode
Android 10 brings native support for a system-wide Dark Mode and the same is reflected in the new OxygenOS UI as well. Previously, only a few areas such as the Settings page and a few menus could use Dark Mode. In the new update, most UI elements including the notification shade makes use of the Dark theme.
That being said, there are still areas that do not have a true dark theme such as Digital Wellbeing (in dark grey) and Game Space (white) so you may run into UI inconsistencies here and there. Overall, Dark Mode looks great on the AMOLED display. Besides, most Google apps including Search and GMail have already started to offer a Dark Mode setting, which is great for saving a bit of energy and is also easy on the eyes.
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New navigation gestures
Gesture-based navigation gets a few improvements in Android 10. While you still have the traditional Android 9 Pie gesture system (and also the navigation bar, if needed), Android 10 now enables back navigation using inward swipes from the left or right edge of the screen. One swipe-up from the bottom center takes you to the Home screen while swipe-up and hold shows recent apps. The new gesture system might take a little time to get used to but is fairly intuitive. However, there is a possibility of triggering the swipe-in main menu while performing the left edge swipe-in in certain apps instead of going back.
Revamped Settings and Customization pages
The Settings page is now better organized and similar settings are grouped together. The Customization page is probably the biggest change in Settings, and it groups all customization related settings in on place. New to the latest OxygenOS update is the ability to customize the Horizon light effect when the phone is locked — you can now choose among blue, red, gold, and purple glow options. Furthermore, you can customize the shape of notification shade icons, change the accent color, font, and the icon pack directly from the new Customization page itself.
Enchanced privacy controls
Privacy enhancements have been a part of almost every major Android update, and OxygenOS based on Android 10 offers some new ways to stay in control of your privacy. The OS now alerts you if apps use location services in the background without your permission. You can now choose between "Always Allow", "Allow only while using the app", and "Deny".
Access to privacy controls is now much more streamlined with a dedicated Privacy Manager page that lists all the permissions required such as location, body sensors, camera, microphone, etc. that allows you to individually control the permissions on a per app basis.
Android 10 brings some useful changes to the way you interact with notifications. Adaptive notifications use AI to suggest replies and actions directly within the notification itself. For example, if you get a text from someone, you will now be directly offered the likely response option and also be able to open web links and Google Maps directly right from the notification itself. Chat bubble-style notifications are still under Developer Options at the moment in OxygenOS. Songs can now be directly scrubbed from the notification shade instead of having to enter into the app each time.
You now have more control over whether apps can or cannot bother you with notifications without having to dig into the app's settings. Simply long-press a notification to choose the notification mode between "Important" (sound or vibration allowed) and "Other" (no sound or vibration).
OxygenOS already had gamer-focused features such as the Fnatic Mode and now, we get to see all those settings getting consolidated under the Game Space app. The Game Space app offers an easy access to all games on your device and you can control several settings such as Fnatic mode, Graphics Optimization, and notification display modes. We've seen such implementations before in other Android OEM ROMs such as Oppo's ColorOS, and it is good to see OxygenOS finally offer the same. An additional feature in Game Space is that you can also see the time spent in each game to better keep track of your gaming indulgence.
Wi-Fi sharing is a new feature in Android 10 that allows you to simply share your wireless network with friends and other devices without having to share passwords. To use Wi-Fi Sharing, simply select the Wi-Fi network in the Wi-Fi & Internet page and tap on Share. After verifying your PIN or fingerprint, you will be shown the QR code below. Simply point any other device to this QR code to directly join your Wi-Fi network.
We haven't yet received the final public version of OxygenOS based on Android 10 on our test OnePlus 7 Pro device, but we did run into a few hiccups in the Open Beta 2 version. Several banking apps fail to work citing that this beta software so if you're a OnePlus 7/7 Pro owner deciding to take the plunge, we would recommend waiting for a few more days for the final bits before using it as a daily driver. You many run into compatibility issues with some apps as well. We did notice that a few apps such as Twitter can sometimes cause a kernel panic-esque situation requiring you to hard reset the phone by pressing the Vol Up and Power buttons together. While we encountered this often in Open Beta 1, such instances have drastically come down in Open Beta 2. Hopefully, the public version fully addresses this issue.
Anecdotally, battery drain seemed to be slightly higher compared to Android 9 on the same settings (QHD+, 90 Hz refresh rate). We'll reserve judgement on this till we get our hands on the final version.
OxygenOS based on Android 10 has been a joy to use as a daily driver for the most part even in open beta form. The new notification and privacy features are good to have, and the overall UI feels snappy. The new gestures might take a bit to get used to but overall, OnePlus continues the tradition of offering regular (and timely) Android feature updates without deviating much from Google's stock offering. A very superficial comparison of AnTuTu and Geekbench (single-core) scores showed an appreciable performance increase as well, but we'll look at the actual numbers once the final bits are available for our device.