OxygenOS stays true to Google's vision of Android while offering plenty of customization options.

OxygenOS is one of the best implementations of Android currently available. Instead of offering a heavily customized interface like most of its Chinese rivals, OnePlus has kept things simple, adding a few differentiating features on top of a near-stock user interface. There are enough subtle tweaks and gestures that let users customize their experience, but the focus is on sheer performance.

The OnePlus 5 and the OnePlus 5T are two of the fastest devices when it comes to software performance this side of the Pixels. Let's take a look at what sets the custom skin apart.

Note: These features are all available on the latest version of OxygenOS 4.x and up. Older versions of OxygenOS may not support all of these features.

Night Mode

OxygenOS Night Mode

Night Mode activates a blue light filter, which reduces fatigue when viewing the screen at night. The feature debuted last year, but on the OnePlus 5 and 5T you can set it to automatically engage from sunset to sunrise, or select a custom time range.

The feature works by altering the color temperature of the display, giving the panel a yellowish tint that eliminates blue hues. While the screen no longer shows accurate colors, it does reduce the strain on your eyes, particularly if you're interacting with your phone a lot at night.

OxygenOS also allows you to set the intensity of the effect — you can choose to eliminate blue tones completely, or select a setting that doesn't alter the color temperature of the screen too much.

Reading Mode

OxygenOS Reading Mode

Reading Mode is a new feature that was introduced earlier this year with the OnePlus 5. Like Night Mode, the feature automatically calibrates the color temperature of the display, making it conducive to reading.

Instead of switching to warmer colors, Reading Mode creates a monochrome effect that's great for reading text. You can activate the mode manually or set it to automatically launch for specific apps. For instance, if you have the Kindle app installed on your OnePlus 5/5T, you can enable Reading Mode to launch automatically whenever you open the app, leaving the rest of the user interface unchanged.

Gestures

OxygenOS Gestures

OxygenOS offers a range of gestures that make it easier to interact with the phone. The three-finger screenshot gesture, for instance, allows you to take a screenshot just by swiping down anywhere on the screen with three fingers.

You also have double tap to wake the screen, and the ability to control music playback — two-finger swipe down for play/pause and <,> symbols to move forward or back in a playlist.

There's also the option to launch the camera by drawing an O, and toggle the flashlight with a V gesture. These gestures are predetermined on the OnePlus 3T, but you can customize actions for up to five gestures on the OnePlus 5/5T, including launching an app, opening the front camera, accessing the Shelf, and more.

Launcher customization

OnePlus 5

The latest iteration of the OnePlus Launcher has a lot of similarities to the Pixel Launcher — you can slide up from anywhere from the lower half of the home screen to access the app drawer.

There are a lot of extras baked in as well. The stock launcher natively supports third-party icon packs, allowing you to choose from hundreds of icon packs on the Play Store and use them without having to switch to another launcher like Nova. You can also change the visual look of the UI with themes — there are three available by default, including a Dark Mode — and switch up the accent colors.

The latest open beta has numerous tweaks to the launcher, including dynamic icons for the calendar and weather, a search history row in the app drawer that lists your five most-recently used apps, ability to see battery information for connected Bluetooth devices, and more.

Status bar

OxygenOS Status bar

The OnePlus 5 and 5T have a toggle that lets you see your network speeds in the status bar. You don't get to see how much data you've consumed in a day, but it is a nerdy feature to have nonetheless.

Talking about the status bar, There's also the ability to toggle icons. If you're on a carrier that offers VoLTE but don't want to see the persistent icon in the status bar, you can now turn it off from the settings. Same goes for NFC, VoWiFi, and other icons.

Navigation buttons

OxygenOS

A nifty feature in OxygenOS is the ability to choose between capacitive or on-screen navigation keys. If you're going with the hardware keys, there's a toggle to turn off the backlight. The default layout of the buttons is back, home, and recents, but you can switch the back and recents buttons if you're coming from a Samsung phone and want to have the back button to the left of the home key. The customizations are valid both for the hardware keys as well as the on-screen buttons.

Alongside the ability to change the order of the buttons, you can also assign long press and double tap actions to each button. You can select from a variety of actions, including opening the camera, turning off the screen, opening or closing the notification shade, accessing split-screen mode, and much more.

Tweak the audio

OxygenOS audio codec

The OnePlus 5/5T take full advantage of the Snapdragon 835 chipset, and that includes a Bluetooth 5.0 chip and the aptX HD audio codec. You'll be able to switch between aptX HD, aptX, and the default SBC codec.

The Qualcomm-owned aptX HD codec is designed to deliver high-res audio over Bluetooth. Launched at the beginning of 2016, aptX HD supports 24-bit/48kHz audio, and while it still uses a lossy compression, you get a higher bandwidth of 576kbps. The standard aptX codec, which was first developed in the 1980s, has a maximum bandwidth of 352kbps.

To get the most out of aptX HD, you'll need to have a compatible audio product that also features the codec. Right now, that's a short list — only the LG Tone Platinum, Tone Active+, Audio-Technica's high-end ATH-DSR9BT, mid-range ATH-DSR7BT, and the $1,000 Beyerdynamic Xelento offer the codec.

While the OnePlus 5/5T come with the aptX HD codec, the OnePlus 3 and 3T feature aptX. However, all four phones offer an audio tuner that lets you tweak the equalizer settings according to your tastes.

LED notifications

OxygenOS LED notifications

OxygenOS allows you to customize the LED notification light for various actions. There's the option to select from eight colors for default notifications, battery full indicator, battery charging, and battery low. You can also select which apps trigger the LED notification light.

As we're on the subject of notifications, the OnePlus 5 has a new vibration motor that lets you choose from five custom patterns for incoming calls. If nothing else, you should take a look just to see the text labels — the default is dzzz-dzzz, but I prefer mm-mm-mm. You can also adjust the vibration intensity for calls and notifications.

Shelf

OxygenOS Shelf

Shelf is located to the left of the home screen, and gives you a quick overview of the date, time, and weather information for your current location, along with a list of your frequent contacts and recently-used apps.

There's the option to add widgets to the Shelf, and you can add or remove modules as needed.

Gaming DND

OxygenOS gaming

The OnePlus 5/5T don't have a Do Not Disturb mode for notifications (you'll have to manually toggle the Alert Slider every night), but it does have one for when you're gaming.

It does what you'd expect — activating Gaming Do Not Disturb silences all incoming notifications with the exception of calls and alarms. The mode also locks the capacitive keys, preventing you from exiting a game should you accidentally hit one of the navigation keys. If you don't want to lock the navigation keys, you can turn off the setting. You can set the mode to launch automatically when a particular app is nothing opened.

Bonus: Quick Pay for India

OxygenOS Paytm

India is one of the largest markets for OnePlus, and the company built a feature that's exclusive to local customers. Dubbed Quick Pay, it allows customers to launch directly into Paytm's payment window with a long press of the home button. The feature works even when the screen is off — launching Paytm as soon as you press and hold the power button.

Paytm is the largest digital wallet service in India, and with digital transactions on the rise, giving customers the ability to quickly access Paytm's payments page is a nifty addition.


What do you like the most about OxygenOS? Sound off in the comments below.

Update: Updated in November 2017 with new additions to OxygenOS.