OnePlus explains OxygenOS 11 design direction change

More than its new OnePlus Nord or premature rumors of the next OnePlus 8T, the matter that has OnePlus fans and observers talking is the big changes that are coming in OxygenOS 11. Some are simply aesthetic but others might change the way you use a OnePlus phone. Unsurprisingly, not everyone is happy about it, even going as far as comparing it to Samsung's equally divisive One UI. OnePlus product manager Sam Twist tries to explain the thinking that lead to that decision and the perhaps mistaken assumption people have about "stock Android".

To be fair, no one really uses "stock Android", at least not the pure Android you get from building Android from source. Even Google modifies that stock experience with its own features and experiences that are actually exclusive to Pixel phones. In an interview with Android Authority, Twist explained that when people talk about "stock Android", they're often thinking more about things like regular updates and no bloatware.

OnePlus has no intentions turning away from those but the company's designers do think that there are things that stock Android isn't able to do well. Making large phones easier to use with one hand is one and taking advantage of all that screen space is another. Stock Android alone isn't also able to take advantage of new hardware and software features like high refresh rates of screens and AI-based UI optimization.

In other words, OnePlus is promising that it could do one better than just stock Android while staying true to that spirit that has earned the company its loyal fans. It's definitely going to be a challenge considering there will soon be even more changes it will have to apply and test for each and every major Android update. Then again, OxygenOS has never really been stock Android but was close enough, adding special features like Always-on Display that stock still doesn't have.

It's not going to be an easy climb, though, if initial feedback is already to be considered. It does seem that the OnePlus community is evenly split between two strong opinions but there is also a more level-headed third faction that is willing to actually wait and test the new OxygenOS 11 before making any judgment.