What Is OxygenOS?

This Android skin for OnePlus phones has some powerful features

OnePlus 5 smartphone running OxygenOS

Sean Gallup / Getty Images

OxygenOS is an Android skin, or custom version, used exclusively on all OnePlus smartphones, including the most recent models. OnePlus phones are Android devices, manufactured by China’s OnePlus, that have been designed to compete with the sophistication and capabilities of leading smartphones. 

OxygenOS looks and feels much like stock Android, but it has an array of unique and useful features and is known for being smooth and responsive. It's designed to be clean, simple, and to work with natural gestures, the way users prefer to control their smartphones.

Here's a look at some of the most noteworthy OxygenOS features.

OnePlus is diligent about keeping OxygenOS updated and in sync with the newest Android versions, so OxygenoS is currently in step with Android 10.

Gesture Functionality

OxygenOS is lauded for its smooth gesture functionality, which allows users to navigate naturally. Gestures replace a traditional navigation bar, creating a seamless, full-screen experience. Swipe up from the bottom-middle of the screen to go home, swipe up and hold to access the recent apps page, and swipe from the left or right edge of the screen to go back.

To switch between the two most recently used apps, just swipe up and to the right of the screen when in an app. Off-screen gestures let you open and launch an app quickly, while music-control gestures make it easy to move to another track. Swipe down the display to take a screenshot, and double-tap the screen to turn it on or off. 

Screenshot of OnePlus OxygenOS showing gesture functionality

Gesture navigation on stock Android is centered around the pill-shaped icon at the bottom of the screen and isn't nearly as extensive, though Android 10 brings improved gesture navigation.

App Locker

The built-in app locker in OxygenOS secures your apps and data from anyone who may be curious enough to pry into your device. Enable this feature for all your apps or only certain data-sensitive apps, and then use a PIN or the fingerprint scanner to open them. This is a great way to secure a spreadsheet with personal financial data or a messaging app with private conversations. 

To enable the app locker, go to Settings > Utilities > App locker and then enter a PIN. Select Add apps and choose the apps to be protected by the app locker.

Screenshot of App locker feature in OxygenOS

Stock Android doesn't come with a built-in app locker; you'd need to add a third-party app via the Google Play store.

The Shelf

Shelf is a productivity tool brought up when users swipe on the home screen. It's a fluid way to view app content without actually tapping on an icon. It displays recent apps, current weather, contacts, a memo feature, and more. Users can view vital device information from Shelf, including remaining data, available storage, and battery percentage.

Shelf is customizable, so you can bring in widgets from other apps installed on your device.

Stock Android doesn't have the Shelf feature, but swiping right on the home screen brings up Google Feed, which is essentially a newsfeed showing reports according to your top interests, frequented websites, and YouTube channels. It can also show the weather and sports scores.

Zen Mode

A new OxygenOS feature that accompanied the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro is called Zen Mode. When activated, Zen Mode sends your phone into a digital trance, locking down all activity for 20 minutes. You can’t change your mind and try to wake up your device, either, even if you try powering down your phone. This is a great way to digitally detach and refocus your mind.

Screenshot of Zen Mode OxygenOS feature

Gaming Mode and Fnatic Mode

Like Zen Mode, Gaming Mode and the OnePlus 7 Pro's ultra-gaming mode, Fnatic Mode, aim to tune out the world, only this time it's so you can focus on your gaming experience. When activated, Gaming Mode and Fnatic Mode block notifications and other distractions. Fnatic Mode goes further, blocking everything but alarms and even halting background processes to focus all resources on the game.

User playing a game with OxygenOS Gaming Mode

Parallel Apps

OxygenOS has a built-in parallel apps feature that lets OnePlus users run what’s essentially cloned versions of other installed apps. This is great if you have multiple Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook accounts and don’t want to have to log out of one account and log in to the other. For example, you can run a cloned version of Facebook to use both your accounts at a time. 

This is just a sampling of the most popular OxygenOS features. To learn about more features, including its smart gallery, secure screen unlocking function, and more, visit the OnePlus OxygenOS website.