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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Oppo ColorOS 11 (Android 11) first impressions

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Google has just released Android 11 for the public and for enthusiasts, it is a big deal. The annual upgrade to Android brings an updated interface and enhanced privacy solutions. As usual, we will see multiple iterations of Android 11 from various OEMs in the months to come. After OnePlus’ Oxygen OS 11, Oppo releases its ColorOS 11 based on Android 11 and it brings a lot for Oppo smartphones. Also Read – Oppo A32 with 6.5-inch 90Hz display, 5000mAh battery launched in China

ColorOS 11 promises lots of improvements over the fairly nice ColorOS 10. Oppo is incorporating the core features of Android 11 while maintaining its distinct identity. The focus here is on polished and smooth user experience without skipping on practicality. ColorOS 11 will hit Oppo’s premium phones initially before being adapted for its mass-market devices. Also Read – Oppo Reno 4 Pro Review: A mixed bag but with a catch

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As the rollout is yet to happen, Oppo sent us a Find X2 pre-loaded with an early version of ColorOS 11. I spent a few hours playing around and here are my initial impressions of ColorOS 11. Also Read – Oppo Find X2 Pro Automobili Lamborghini edition announced in India

Does ColorOS 11 look new?

Oh yes! This is as important as anything else – a new software update needs to look new. While the stock version of Android 11 is moderately refreshing over Android 10, it’s a vastly different experience on ColorOS 11. On the Oppo Find X2, ColorOS 11 feels like a mature operating system.

The interface is broadly similar to the one from previous ColorOS versions. However, there are minute refinements all throughout the interface. The icons are better finished while the spacing on the homescreen is now balanced. The notification shade apes that of stock Android, complete with category distinction.

What’s most noticeable though are the smoother system animations. Whether I am pulling down the notification tray or opening apps, the interaction feels natural. Even juggling between a few apps did not put the OS under stress – the animations remain consistently smooth.

Customization is at the core

Customization has always been at the core of ColorOS and with the ColorOS 11, it only improves. Oppo brings in the tasteful tweaking options from its sister brand OnePlus and adds in a little flair of its own. You can now change the accent colors throughout the system while changing icon shapes and fonts. This is an addition to the extensive theme options already present in ColorOS. Hence, your Oppo phone could have a unique look from the next person’s.

ColorOS 11

Personally, I love the Oppo Sans font and the new tweaking options on ColorOS 11. The customizations gel well with the rest of the OS and nowhere does it feel like an afterthought. Fonts are properly aligned all throughout the system and every interface element makes sense. The new Always-On-Display and its customization options feel inspired from Xiaomi’s MIUI 12. That said, it all adds up to the experience.

Some of Oppo’s classic additions are carried over but with slight enhancements. The sidebar is still a nifty way to access favorite apps and functions. Dark mode makes a return but with three levels of darkness, i.e. you can either choose a “lights out” theme or a slightly graying background. The homescreen allows you to choose your own icon sizes and foreground spacing on the actual icons.

ColorOS 11

There’s so much to do in ColorOS 11 as a customization freak and I don’t find myself getting bored of it anytime soon.

How much of Android 11 is present?

Frankly? Almost all of it. Oppo is carrying over all the prominent features from the stock Android version to its custom OS. As I said, the category-based notification drawer is here and it gels well with the ColorOS customizations applied atop. The updated power menu gets shortcuts to your smart devices. Do note that you have to have a smart home app installed in order to see the shortcuts.

Android’s answer to Apple’s AirDrop as Nearby Share is also present on ColorOS 11. Sadly, I did not have another Android 11 device to test this feature out. Bubbles notifications are present here as well but due to limited support, I did not see a single app throwing a Bubble notification. Android 11’s enhanced privacy features such as One-time permission, scoped storage, and auto-reset permissions make it to ColorOS 11 unaltered.

ColorOS 11

The Super Power Saving mode promises up to 90 minutes of texting on WhatsApp with just 5 percent of battery charge. FlexDrop allows apps to be used in floating windows but this isn’t coming before October. Then there’s Battery Guard learning your charging habits and withholding charging so as not to overcharge the battery. For Indian users, ColorOS 11 will share location status to select contacts once the battery drops below 15 percent.

Oppo’s additions

While there’s a lot of Android 11 present in ColorOS 11, Oppo has added newer bits of its own. Developers now have access to Ultra Steady Video shooting and Super Wide angle lens for all third-party apps. Video HDR is available too with an enhanced dynamic range for video shooting.

ColorOS 11

There’s HyperBoost 3.0 to improve performance while taking care of power efficiency. The effectiveness of these features can only be determined after spending some time with the device. Game Space now offers an option to create a VPN network for a secure online gaming experience and brings its useful utilities from previous versions. There’s a ringtone maker that allows you to create different versions of a single tone.

Sadly, some of the undesired elements of ColorOS also make a return. The proprietary Browser app keeps throwing notifications of news items and still offers a messy user experience. Oppo’s Theme store hosts paid themes that don’t quite match up to the refined stock themes in ColorOS 11.

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ColorOS 11 first impressions

ColorOS 11

With all the enhancements and additions, Oppo has finally made ColorOS feel more mature than ever. On a premium device such as the Oppo Find X2, ColorOS is refined. It brings in all the privacy features from Android 11 but doesn’t skip on the intensive customization options. The experience is smooth and fluid – just what you expect from a mobile operating system in 2020. Of course, there are a few bugs that need to be ironed out but for an early release, ColorOS feels nice to use. If you held up transitioning to an Oppo smartphone because of its clunky interface, ColorOS 11 could finally convince you to make the switch.

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