What Is OxygenOS? The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide 
OxygenOS is now well-known for its focus on performance, timely updates, and the clean Android experience. Here’s everything you need to know about OxygenOS in OnePlus phones.
- What is OnePlus OxygenOS?
- Tracing Back: From CyanogenOS to OxygenOS
- The OG OxygenOS
- HydrogenOS: The What?
- From Close To Stock Android To Merge With ColorOS
- OnePlus OxygenOS Version History – From OxygenOS 1.0 to OxygenOS 14.0
- Notable Changes in OxygenOS Versions
- OxygenOS 14 & Android 14
SHORT ANSWER: OxygenOS is OnePlus’ custom Android interface for its phones. It was first introduced in 2015 and has many useful features and customization options. OxygenOS is well-known for its clean and bloatware-free Android experience. It has gone through
For more answers, read this ultimate beginner’s guide to OxygenOS. We talk about the history of OxygenOS, tracking back to its roots, the OxygenOS version history, detailing all the changes, and the latest iteration, OxygenOS 14.
OxygenOS is one of the most respected names among Android skins. Such a high reputation didn’t fall into the laps of OnePlus; the company fought for it, staying true to its promise of a clutter-free and bloatware-free Android experience when other skins opted to introduce ads and bloat.
Did you know that OnePlus used a different custom skin for the OnePlus One, and OnePlus was forced to make its custom skin out of betrayal from that third-party skin?
Also, did you know that OnePlus used to have a different Android skin called HydrogenOS, which was later merged with OxygenOS?
The story of OxygenOS is exciting and inspiring; you don’t want to miss this as we dive into just that.
What is OnePlus OxygenOS?
OnePlus OxygenOS is the Chinese smartphone brand’s custom Android interface/skin. OxygenOS was first introduced for the company’s first smartphone – OnePlus One.
From the start, OnePlus has ensured that the OxygenOS experience is clean and smooth. OnePlus has often emphasized speed and performance while avoiding the pitfalls of ads and bloatware.
The latest version of OxygenOS or OOS is the OxygenOS 14, which is based on Android 14. OnePlus launches a new version of OxygenOS every year, coinciding with the new Android versions.
Let me explain what a custom Android interface is if you’re wondering. Android is an open-source operating system developed by Google. It is used by smartphone brands other than Apple. As an open-source operating system, it can be customized by anyone and any company. Brands customize Android to their liking to provide users with a distinctive user experience. That’s why even though brands like Samsung, OnePlus, Motorola, Xiaomi, etc. use Android for their phones, they all are so different from each other.
Let’s talk more about the OxygenOS history and start from the origins of OnePlus.
Tracing Back: From CyanogenOS to OxygenOS
The story of the initial stages of OnePlus is a wild one.
OnePlus came to the market in 2014 with a disruptive product – the OnePlus One.
It relied on viral marketing with a one-of-a-kind invite system. You will need an invitation to buy the phone. OnePlus One was specifically catered to geeks. With the emphasis on democratizing technology for everyone, the OnePlus One offered one of the best bang for the buck ever in a smartphone.
However, OnePlus did not have its own software skin at that time. OnePlus partnered with Cyanogen Inc., founded by the maker of the then-popular CyanogenMod custom ROM, to bundle the new CyanogenOS in its devices. CyanogenOS was a commercial version of CyanogenMod with some changes.
That was a recipe for success. OnePlus One running CyanogenOS is available for a fraction of the cost of flagships like Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One (M8), and LG G3, and was a hit among tech enthusiasts. The device ran CyanogenOS, meaning we didn’t need to root the phone or install a custom ROM. The phone was a geek’s pipe dream!
But things changed when Cyanogen Inc. abruptly notified OnePlus that the company is going for an exclusive partnership for CyanogenOS in India with Micromax for its new Yu sub-brand. It happened just a week before the company scheduled its India launch of the OnePlus One. It left OnePlus scrambling, which is when OnePlus started to think about making its custom skin.
“It is truly unfortunate that a commitment we both made to our Indian users will now not be upheld. The One will continue to be supported globally and receive frequent OTAs,” the company said. “We can’t explain Cyanogen’s decision because we don’t fully understand it ourselves.”
OnePlus One was shipped to the market with CyanogenOS, but the device won’t get any updates. But Micromax then sued OnePlus in the country and got them to be banned. BIG OOOF!!
OnePlus was just getting started.
The company hired a handful of key developers of the Paranoid Android custom ROM, the second most popular custom ROM behind CyanogenMod at that time, to make its new UI.
That’s how OxygenOS came to be.
The OG OxygenOS
OxygenOS 1.0 was released on April 4, 2015. It was based on Android 5.0.1 Lollipop and was available as a downloadable zip for OnePlus One because OnePlus couldn’t deliver the update over the air on CyanogenOS devices.
As you can see from the above screenshot, the new OxygenOS was a close-to-stock Android skin, which looked and felt like a stock Android skin, pretty much similar to what Google was delivering on Nexus devices. But it offered a small set of meaningful features such as screen-off gestures and a customizable quick settings panel.
OnePlus 2 was launched with OxygenOS 2.0 based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. Even though the device had some issues with heating (yeah, I used the phone, and the Snapdragon 810 worked better as a hand warmer!), the OxygenOS 2.0 still struggled with filling the gap left by CyanogenOS for enthusiasts.
OxygenOS 3, which came with the excellent OnePlus 3, was a great success for the company, and it only improved.
OnePlus continued its saga of clean software with useful features for the future versions of OxygenOS, and the OxygenOS itself became one of the biggest selling points of OnePlus devices.
… Until OnePlus decided to ditch the OG OxygenOS …
HydrogenOS: The What?
HydrogenOS is another skin OnePlus used to have in parallel with OxygenOS. This was shipped exclusively to the Chinese market.
OnePlus One shipped with ColorOS in China (yes, OnePlus always was a sister concern for Oppo, even if they refuted it initially). After OnePlus decided to go with its own OS after the Cyanogen debacle, OnePlus decided to switch to its skin for the Chinese market, too.
HydrogenOS is like a variant of OxygenOS with some changes but without the Google Play Store and Google suite of apps.
From Close To Stock Android To Merge With ColorOS
OnePlus, in June 2021, announced that it is going to merge with Oppo. As a refresher, Oppo, OnePlus, Realme, Vivo, and iQOO are all owned by BBK group, but Oppo Electronics, a subsidiary of BBK, owns Oppo smartphones division, OnePlus, and Realme. Oppo smartphones and OnePlus are finally merging, even though it was widely known that both are essentially the same.
Just after a month, in July, OnePlus and Oppo announced that they would merge OxygenOS and ColorOS to form a unified OS. This was met with wide protest from OnePlus fans, as the OxygenOS was widely loved and respected. And merging it with ColorOS, something the fans see as the polar opposite of OxygenOS, will definitely raise concerns.
Even though the company announced that it would not merge OxygenOS with ColorOS for a Unified OS, after the outcry from the community, it merged it anyway.
OxygenOS 12 marked the end of the OG OxygenOS. It was based on ColorOS but with various old features of the OG OOS integrated. For example, it came with the ColorOS launcher but with the old OOS icons. It came with all the customizations and feature sets of ColorOS but also has integrated OxygenOS lock screen canvas, AoD, and more. It was bundled with the old system apps, not the ones used in ColorOS 12.
But with OxygenOS 13, there was no difference. OxygenOS 13 and ColorOS 13 are identical, barring the bloatware in ColorOS. You’ve got to throw in Realme UI 3.0 as well, the custom skin of Realme, which was based on ColorOS from the start, like OxygenOS.
The merge with ColorOS wasn’t a bad thing for OxygenOS and OnePlus.
OnePlus devices, in 2021 and 2022, were starting to get infamous for bugs. Users were taking to social media to complain about them. Updates were not fixing the bugs; it was only ever increasing.
The switch to the ColorOS codebase has made OxygenOS a more robust operating system for the masses. And it introduced OnePlus users to the world of heavy customization, which they might have missed.
OnePlus OxygenOS Version History – From OxygenOS 1.0 to OxygenOS 14.0
|Sl No.||OxygenOS Version||Android Version||Release Date|
|1||OxygenOS 1||Android 5||July 2015|
|2||OxygenOS 2||Android 5.1||June 2015|
|3||OxygenOS 3||Android 6.0.1||June 2016|
|4||OxygenOS 4||Android 7||December 2016|
|5||OxygenOS 5||Android 8||January 2018|
|6||OxygenOS 9||Android 9||December 2018|
|7||OxygenOS 10||Android 10||September 2019|
|8||OxygenOS 11||Android 11||June 2020|
|9||OxygenOS 12||Android 12||October 2021|
|10||OxygenOS 13||Android 13||August 2022|
|11||OxygenOS 14||Android 14||September 2023|
Notable Changes in OxygenOS Versions
OxygenOS 1.0: First version of OxygenOS.
It was pretty much basically stock Android but with extra features like screen off-gestures and a customizable quick settings menu.
With OxygenOS 2.0, OnePlus was still struggling to fill the gap left by CyanogenOS. It was also basically stock Android but now came with some more features, such as
- OnePlus shelf.
- Gesture shortcuts.
- And more.
OxygenOS 3.0 was based on Android Marshmallow. It added more features and provided a refined user experience.
- More customization.
- Features such as configurable soft keys, quick wallpaper swapping, and Shelf widgets were introduced.
OxygenOS 4.0 saw OnePlus adding more and more features, catching up to the other skins, and slowly carving a space of its own in the minds of consumers. The notable features include:
- Improved gaming mode 2.0.
- New camera app.
- Built-in video editing suite.
- New settings menu design.
- Multi-window view.
- Custom DPI support.
OxygenOS 5.0, based on Android Oreo, only helped to improve the distinctive OxygenOS signature in the Android world. It introduced navigation gestures, popularized by iPhone X, even before Google integrated it into Android. The notable features of OOS 5.0 were:
- Navigation gestures.
- Parallel apps are introduced, which let you run different instances of the same app.
- New UI for the camera.
- New design for Quick Settings panel.
- Places tab in the system Gallery app.
OxygenOS skipped 6 and jumped straight to OOS 9, matching the new numbering system of Android. The visual language of OxygenOS remained similar, with changes coinciding with stock Android. It added new features like:
- Zen mode was introduced for better focusing while working.
- Gaming mode 3.0.
OOS 10 was an interactive upgrade, both functionally and visually. It saw the addition of a few features like:
- Game Space replaces gaming mode 3.0.
- Quick settings icon customizations.
- Smart display added to Ambient display.
OxygenOS 11 is the last iteration of the custom skin that enthusiasts still see as the “OG OxygenOS”. OOS 11 adds further tweaks and features such as:
- Canvas AoD feature that shows a customizable AoD based on the person on the wallpaper.
- Updated camera UI.
- More gaming tools to Game Space.
- Story feature in Gallery.
Cooperation with ColorOS is here. OxygenOS 12 doesn’t look like before; it added so many new features and changes that it could be called a totally different skin.
- Many new features ported over from ColorOS, such as:
- ColorOS launcher.
- ColorOS camera app.
- Theme store.
- Redesigned settings.
- ColorOS gallery.
- Customizable Dark Mode.
- And more.
- Redesigned OnePlus Shelf.
- Zen mode redesign.
OxygenOS 13 and ColorOS 13 are identical. OxygenOS has completely switched over to the ColorOS base. This brings even more changes to OxygenOS, but it still offers clutter-free, bloatware-free, and premium software experience.
- Enlarged folders let you open apps in a folder without opening the folder on your home screen.
- The new smart sidebar feature brings a small sidebar with nifty features.
- Material You icons.
- And more.
OxygenOS 14 & Android 14
OxygenOS 14 is the latest iteration of OnePlus’ custom Android skin. It brings all the features from Android 14, and most OnePlus phones will get the OxygenOS 14 update.
OnePlus has promised to keep phones for as long as five years, meaning quite a few OnePlus phones will get this new update! But many phones in the OnePlus Nord series aren’t going to cut as per the OnePlus update policy.
OxygenOS 14 brings all the new features and improvements from Android 14 and also features such as:
- File Dock – This helps you transfer files between apps by dragging and dropping them.
- Smart Cutout – This feature can crop out backgrounds with a single click.
- Notes 2.0 – OnePlus Notes app gets rich text support.