OxygenOS 13 is official, with a new “Aquamorphic Design” inspired by water; fails to return to near stock Android

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OnePlus has announced the OnePlus 10T on August 7, 2022, and along with it, the much awaited OxygenOS 13 custom user interface. According to the company, OxygenOS 13 will come with Android 13, be first seen on the OnePlus 10 Pro with an Open Beta release soon, and later be made available to existing OnePlus smartphones down the road. What changes does OxygenOS 13 bring to the table? It turns out that, contrary to a February 2022 announcement that the user interface would return to near stock Android, OxygenOS 13 actually took the next bus further out of town away from it.

OxygenOS 13 homescreen
OxygenOS 13 home screen
OxygenOS 13 widgets
OxygenOS 13 widgets

Dear mobilistas, this does not look anything like what long-time OnePlus users were looking forward to. This actually looks lore like ColorOS. For clarity, I have reproduced the February 2022 announcement of a return to near stock Android experience.

The February 2022 announcement of a return to near stock Android experience

In big news, OnePlus has announced that OxygenOS 13 will be a near stock Android experience. In other words, the company has backtracked on their misadventure of changing the appearance of their custom user interface to that of OPPO’s ColorOS. The announcement was made in the official OnePlus forums by Pete Lau, founder of the company.

It was a bad idea from the get-go, considering that the user interface was one of the key distinguishing features of OnePlus devices and a major attraction for the brand. You don’t throw that kind of edge away just like that. You can read the official announcement below.

OxygenOS 13 is a return to near stock Android

Back in September, we announced the codebase for both OxygenOS and ColorOS would merge with the goal of creating one unified and upgraded operating system for both brands globally. While OxygenOS and ColorOS will continue to be developed on the same codebase – to allow for faster updates and better build quality – OxygenOS and ColorOS will remain independent brand properties. This new course was taken in accordance with feedback from our Community – we understand users of OxygenOS and ColorOS want each operating system to remain separate from each other with their own distinct properties.

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

– Pete Lau (source)

OxygenOS 12 is a rebadged version of ColorOS 12, and there was an uproar in the OnePlus community over that. I was not the only person who was excited when this announcement was made back in February 2022. Now, I don’t even know how to react to this new look that OxygenOS 13 has. One thing is clear, though: this does not look like anything that long-time OnePlus users are familiar with. It does live up to the promise that “OxygenOS 13 will retain its unique visual design”.

In brief, while both ColorOS and OxygenOS would continue to share underlying code, they would retain their distinct visual differences. That would be good enough, and everyone would happy. There was jubilation in the OnePlus community over this news. Personally, I had been looking forward to experiencing OxygenOS before the OPPO-OnePlus merger announcement last year. I promptly lost a huge chunk of interest. With this backtracking, once again, I was looking forward to experiencing OxygenOS this year. And I did get my first OnePlus smartphone.

Oxygen OS 13 design
The new Aquamorphic Design

But this new look of OxygenOS 13 leaves me stumped. This isn’t a return to the look and feel that long-time OnePlus users loved and swore by. It looks like, Google Pixel phones are the last resort of those of us who want that clean, stock experience. Nokia is releasing under-powered smartphones, and Motorola is not providing timely software updates. It is now Google Pixel or nothing, and even that brand is still producing phones that can boil water during use.

OxygenOS 13 Update schedule

Here is the list of OnePlus phones that will receive OxygenOS 13:

No specific timeline has been given yet for the release of the update to these phones. While this new user interface is not what many of us were probably expecting, it just might turn out to be something we will all come to love. In any case, it is interesting to see OxygenOS transit from red to blue.

August 12, 2022 Update: After seeing some early hands-on reviews of OxygenOS 13 after the beta release to the OnePlus 10 Pro, and seeing how they confirm my sentiments here, I am finally done with my love and craving for OxygenOS and OnePlus phones. I wish OnePlus all the best.

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By Mister Mobility

I have been tech blogging since 2003, I have owned and reviewed hundreds of smartphones since my first in 2001.

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