From Pixel to OnePlus: How OxygenOS Won Me Over

In Short
  • The shift from OnePlus' ColorOS and Pixel UI surprised me.
  • While I expected ColorOS to be extremely bad in user experience, it was completely different.
  • It is almost bloated-free, has many nifty features, and its UI, animations, and transitions are smooth and soothing.

After using the Pixel 6 and having a great run with it for about three years, I didn’t really want to upgrade as the phone would get another major update. However, that changed when OnePlus announced the OnePlus 12R Genshin Impact edition. Being a long-term Genshin player and fan, I knew I had to get one and I did. But that meant I had to shift from Pixel UI to OnePlus’ OxygenOS, which is a slightly pared-down version of ColorOS.

While I previously despised OnePlus’ decision to merge the ColorOS and OxygenOS codebases, buying the OnePlus 12R meant I had no choice but to adapt to OxygenOS. After trying it I can say that I don’t hate it, rather it feels like a breath of fresh air, and it didn’t turn out to be what I expected.

Not As Bloated as I Thought

I despise bloatware. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t use mid-range devices, even though I want to try them. Sure a few uninstallable third-party apps won’t hurt but having loads of useless first-party apps pushing tons of notifications daily takes away the joy of using a phone.

OnePlus uninstallable apps

OnePlus 12R’s software experience is clean and uncluttered. The two or three preinstalled apps can be uninstalled, and first-party apps are minimal. Although I would’ve preferred if apps like MyFiles, Weather, Games, and Internet were uninstallable, you could disable them without affecting your phone’s functions. Other mid-range OnePlus devices have more third-party bloatware but they’re uninstallable.

Overall, I’d say the bloatware situation on the OnePlus is comparable to Samsung. The Pixel still wins in terms of software cleanliness but OnePlus isn’t very bad, and that’s not what I expected.

Fairly Clean User Experience

I for one am not a big fan of UIs with overstuffed features. Software features are great but when stuffed in every corner of the UI, they become counterintuitive. I was expecting OxygenOS to overwhelm me with features. While it is filled with features I can see myself using and getting used to, it still manages to offer a fairly clean user experience.

At the end of the day, I think it’s important for brands to think about where to draw the line. Again, features are purely subjective and some folks love using UIs stuffed with all kinds of quirky features. But we need to ponder upon the question “How much is too much?” and consider how much of a blockade they introduce in the user experience. It’s all about making the right choices and brands need to ask themselves “Should we introduce a feature that 5% of users will use, or keep the user experience clean?”

Pixel to OnePlus: Lots of Handy Features

Which brings us to the features section. I’ve always complained about the lack of even basic features on Pixels. After switching to OxygenOS, my thirst for features has been quenched. Sure, I miss a few features from the Pixel but I can make do thanks to OnePlus features like App cloning and Flexible Window.

Pixel’s feature set appeals to a different kind of user but in the course of using the OnePlus 12R, I realized that I do not belong to that. Neither do I belong on the opposite side of the spectrum but somewhere in the middle. Sure, I miss Now playing, Live Translate, and Transcribe. But because it’s been so long since Google considered bringing features like Hold for me and Call Screening in countries outside the US, I don’t miss the Pixel experience as much.

Excellent Launcher: Take Notes, Google!

A section dedicated to the OnePlus launcher shows how barebones the Pixel launcher truly is. For me, an Android Launcher defines the user experience as it will always be my primary starting point for navigation. I love the OnePlus launcher as it is full of neat tricks that make your life easier.

From managing multiple apps to adding custom icons, changing the layout, changing app labels transitioning animations, double tap to lock, and Icon pulldown gestures, it is a joy to use. The Pixel launcher, on the other hand, is as barebones as it could get.

There is no bulk editing, no built-in icon pack support, and no per-app icons, Pixel’s UI is just too basic. Sure, At a Glance is great but you can’t even remove it from your screen. Support is “coming soon” but we all know that realistically, that means at least two years from now.

Animations, Transitions, and Performance

I never thought I’d say this but OxygenOS (ColorOS) feels like a much more mature Android experience than Pixel UI. While that’s due to many reasons, one of the contributing factors is the animations and the “feel of use”. It could be due to the hardware, as the OnePlus 12R boasts a higher refresh rate and a significantly better display than the Pixel 6. I’ve used Android phones with 120Hz displays before, but the smoothness on OnePlus feels more consistent if that makes sense.

While I was switching, the Tensor G1 had started showing its age. The Pixel becomes warm very soon, even during the lightest of tasks. However, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 on the OnePlus 12R is extraordinarily snappy. It sips battery and combined with 12R’s mammoth 5,500 mAh cell, it’s easily a two-day phone for my use case.

From Pixel to OnePlus: Closing Thoughts

Switching to a different UI after three years was enlightening, and I’m glad I went for the OnePlus 12R. It hits the spot with specifications and I was overthinking the UI experience. OxygenOS 14 has been extremely productive for me so far. And I can’t wait to experience what OnePlus has in store for OxygenOS 15. All I can say is that I’ll be one of the people to hop on the OxygenOS 15 Beta train. I’m glad I the ColorOS-OxygenOS merger wasn’t as bad as I thought.

What are your thoughts about OxygenOS and ColorOS? How do you like them compared to stock Android and Pixel UI? Let us know in the comments below.

Comments 2
  • Harshit Gupta says:

    I had pretty much the same experience with 12r. Even i was worried that, coming from moto edge 30, oxygen os (color os in disguise) will ruin my software experience but it was not like that. Sure i would have liked some things to be different but still the current oxygen os is not bad. And, as a genshin player, how is your phone battery running for 2 days, i keep playing genshin on my phone and it works for almost 1½ days for me at max….

  • Joseph says:

    I pretty much did the same, jumping from #pixel6pro to #oneplus12r, but I was exposed to ColorOS with a prior #oneplus8T, I love the new phone & am getting used to a slightly different OS, which is pretty darn good!

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