OnePlus Backs Down from ColorOS-based “Unified OS” Plans, OxygenOS Will Remain the Global OS on OnePlus Devices

All eyes on OxygenOS 13.

In September of last year, OnePlus did the equivalent of shooting itself in the foot then sprinkling purified salt on the wound to make it feel as painful as possible, or in other words, it announced a merger with Oppo‘s ColorOS. The software OnePlus devices are so dearly known for, OxygenOS, was going to integrate with Oppo’s ColorOS to create a new “unified OS” that would have the benefits of both and the drawbacks of none.

From a strategic standpoint, some may even say that this kind of makes sense. OnePlus’ explanation was that this integration would allow it to push updates faster whilst keeping the clean yet feature-rich experience OxygenOS is synonymous with. After all, Oppo and OnePlus already shared so much due to their parent company that it was almost natural that this would be the next step in the evolution.

However, where it all went wrong was the community reaction, or should I say the extremely vocal community backlash. OnePlus fans, both diehard and new, made it abundantly clear that this was the worst decision the company has ever taken and that merging with ColorOS would strip OnePlus devices of the little identity they had left. For six straight months, the scrutiny just kept piling up and it seems like it finally got to OnePlus.

OxygenOS lives on

In a detailed blog post on the OnePlus forums discussing the future of the company, OnePlus announced that they were backtracking from the company’s initial plans to merge with ColorOS entirely. OnePlus devices will keep shipping with OxygenOS whereas Oppo devices will keep shipping with ColorOS and both skins would remain different, despite being built on the same codebase.

It seems like OnePlus realized they made a mistake and is now trying to amend it. The following is the explanation OnePlus offered for this announcement. Take note of the way the statement is composed, you’ll noitce that it never explicitly states that all of the plans have been called off. It’s more of putting on a clever spin to drive away some of the controversy.

Back in September, Pete announced the codebase for both Oxygen OS and Color OS would merge with the goal of creating one unified and upgraded operating system for both OnePlus and Oppo devices globally. Oxygen OS and Color OS will continue to be developed on the same codebase — to allow for faster updates and better build quality — but we have decided that Oxygen OS and Color OS will remain independent brand properties. This new course was taken in accordance with feedback from our community — we understand users of Oxygen OS and Color OS want each operating system to remain separate from each other with their own distinct properties.

A little more context is due here…

Back in 2021, BBK Electronics, the parent company of OnePlus and Oppo essentially combined them together, such that OnePlus would still remain independent but come under Oppo as a sub-brand. That’s when it was decided that the codebase of ColorOS will be merged with the codebase of Oxygen OS so that they would now share the same codebase. This came to fruition with OxygenOS 12 released last year.

Now, OxygenOS 12 was still mostly the same OxygenOS but with some Oppo extras here and there such as the ColorOS launcher. However, due to poor integration of some features on OnePlus’ part and subpar optimization, OxygenOS 12 was riddled with bugs. Of course, this just acted as more ammunition for the already angry mob so they let OnePlus know just how much they hate this new direction the company is going in.

OxygenOS 11 icons vs. OxygenOS 12 icons | Tech Markup

With this “OnePlus 2.0Oppo-fication of the company came the final nail in the coffin: the announcement of a unified OS that would power OnePlus’ 2022 flagship, the OnePlus 10 series. This unified OS would give Oppo devices the clean and smooth experience of OxygenOS and give OnePlus devices the feature-rich customization of ColorOS. On top of that, older OnePlus devices would also be upgraded to this unified OS with Android 13 which upset fans even more.

In China, OnePlus 10 has already been released and is running a rebranded version of ColorOS but the global release is still a few days away at this point. What’s interesting about that global release is that OnePlus 10 phones outside of China were supposed to ship with this new unified OS. Whatever this new unified OS was going to be has now been canceled. Instead, OxygenOS 12 will remain the default global software on all OnePlus 10 devices.

OxygenOS 13

Now that this unnamed unified OS is no more and the world gets to experience OxygenOS 12, what happens after this? At the media roundtable, we saw the first official mention/announcement of OxygenOS 13 coming at the end of this year. This new OS would be a sort of course-correction for OnePlus where they would go back to their roots to please their community.

Our software philosophy for Oxygen OS has always been to offer users a light and clean experience that is close to stock Android and oriented towards usage globally. With Oxygen OS 13, we want to deliver an experience that long-time OnePlus users will be familiar with while ensuring it upholds hallmarks of Oxygen OS, like a fast and smooth experience, burdenless design, and ease of use. Oxygen OS 13 will retain its unique visual design and a range of exclusive customization features.

As you can tell, this doesn’t exactly mean that OxygenOS 13 will be going back to OxygenOS’ glory days where it was the best Android skin out there with a stock look and some neat features sprinkled on top. OxygenOS 13 will still share the same codebase and likely include many of the quirks found in Oppo’s ColorOS, just rebranded to fit within the OxygenOS ecosystem.

OxygenOS 13 is built on community feedback and in close collaboration with Google | OnePlus

What that means is that OxygenOS 13 might very well be the unified OS we were all dreading but with the OxygenOS name to calm the backlash down a bit. The fact that the quote above mentions “unique visual design” and “a range of exclusive customization features” is pretty darn indicative that that Oppo integration will still be put to some use, even if the OxygenOS brand lives on.

Our software philosophy for Oxygen OS has always been to offer users a light and clean experience that is close to stock Android and oriented towards usage globally. With Oxygen OS 13, we want to deliver an experience that long-time OnePlus users will be familiar with while ensuring it upholds hallmarks of Oxygen OS, like a fast and smooth experience, burdenless design, and ease of use.

What this means

OnePlus has lost much of its identity by now. What originally started as an impossibly brave concept of sticking up to big guys has now turned into becoming the most ethical big guy possible themselves. OnePlus is no longer the flagship killer brand but that doesn’t mean it’s dying. Oh, no, no, no, it’s actually having the best sales ever due to expanding the product lineup and better global availability in certain regions.

That’s why the company backtracking a decision that technically doesn’t even affect mainstream consumers is kind of commendable. It shows that underneath all the corporate BS, OnePlus is still trying to remain true to its core values. OnePlus being under Oppo now means that they have more resources at their disposal than ever before to create the best devices possible. And with OxygenOS remaining separate from Oppo’s software, it’s only up to OnePlus to gain back the reputation it has lost over the past few months.

Oppo and OnePlus’ shared resources under the new merger | OnePlus

Huzaifa Haroon

Born and raised around computers, Huzaifa is an avid gamer and a keyboard enthusiast. When he's not solving the mysteries of technology, you can find him scrutinizing writers, striving to inform the curious.
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