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ColorOS 11 Review: Adds Flavour To Vanilla Android 11
Gone are the days, when the latest Android update was only available for the Nexus or the Pixel smartphones. Android OEMs are now working hard to release the latest software update on day-one and Oppo has managed to do so. While stock Android allows you to customize the device however you want, most custom Android OS will have a few restrictions on its customizations.
Android is now a mature operating system. Hence, we might not see many visual or feature differences even with the major upgrades and it also applies to the most recent version -- the Android 11. I have been testing the ColorOS 11 based on the Android 11 OS on the Oppo Find X2 -- the flagship offering from Oppo and here is how it fares against other Android builds.
A Step In The Right Direction
Oppo's custom ColorOS has come a long way. In fact, I am liking the approach of the brand, starting with the ColorOS 7, the predecessor of the ColorOS 11. In terms of looks and aesthetics, the ColorOS 11 is a lot like the ColorOS 7 but it is based on the latest Android 11 OS.
ColorOS 11 is definitely not just a theme over the Android 11 OS. The company has completely worked on the whole UI aspect and it feels much smoother with almost every animation that I noticed on the Oppo Find X2.
From the notification panel to the multi-tasking window, the ColorOS 11 feels smooth, and the credit should go to the 120Hz refresh rate display on the Oppo Find X2 with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 SoC and 12GB RAM.
Easy To Access Notification/Widget Panel
As smartphones are getting bigger, it is hard to access information on the screen with one hand and Oppo has incorporated a smart design feature to solve this issue. As soon as you open the notification/widget panel, it comes down in such a way that the top portion of the screen shows the time and date, and the bottom portion will have all your notifications and widget toggles.
This feature ensures that one can easily access these options with a single hand, even if they have small hands like me. Not just that, one can also summon the widget panel by just swiping on the home screen (top to bottom), which also useful for the one-hand smartphone users.
From unlocking the phone to accessing the notification panel, all could be done with just a single hand on a smartphone with ColorOS 11 OS. And this is something that every Android manufacturer has to implement to ease one-hand usage.
Card Styled Recent Apps
The recent apps on ColorOS 11 look a lot better when compared to third-party custom Android skins. If you have turned on the gesture navigation on the ColorOS 11 (which you should do to experience a complete full-screen experience) swiping from bottom to top will open the recent app or multitasking tray.
The card-sized app preview will give you a quick glance at the app or the service without actually opening it. There is an option to close all the opened apps at the same time or one can also navigate between the apps and select the one that they are intended to use without a fuss. To come back to the home screen just swipe from top to bottom again and you are back home.
Unlimited Customisation Options
I just love the amount of customization that Oppo offers with the ColorOS 11. One can change icon styles, app layout, fingerprint style, theme color, font style, and edge display.
When it comes to dark mode settings, most OS offer light mode or dark mode. The ColorOS 11 has three different dark modes called Enhanced (pitch black mode), medium, and a gentle dark mode. If you are not a fan of pitch-black mode, you can select the other two options, and I used the Oppo Find X2 in Enhanced dark mode, which also helps preserve power.
There is also an option to force dark mode on apps that are incompatible with the dark mode, which is also a great tool for those who love dark mode. Using these features, one can enable an app tray, which was not available on the previous ColorOS iteration. I am someone who likes stock icons and I was able to download a custom icon pack and use it on the Oppo Find X2 without any issue.
Similarly, I also tweaked the fonts and the theme color to make the phone look the way that I want it. Last but not the least, it also gives numerous options for the always-on-display. However, I prefer my phone's battery to last longer, hence I didn't enable always-on-display. If you are someone who likes custom always-on-display, then you should definitely get an Oppo smartphone with an AMOLED display and ColorOS 11.
Game Space For Gaming Fanatics
If you are a gaming enthusiast, then the ColorOS 11 will wow you with this feature. Game Space feature will automatically detect when you launch a game and opens the game space to assist you with gaming.
If you are serious about a PUBG gaming session, then opening the immersive mode will give you zero interruptions while gaming. On the regular gaming mode, the phone will subtly display notifications from apps like Whatsapp, without disturbing the actual gameplay. Not just that, the app also shows information like CPU and GPU utilization percentage with real-life frame rate information.
Similarly, using the Game Space, one can also take in-game screenshots and screen record. Even while screen recording, it gives an option to record system sound or to record the microphone sound, which is a nifty feature for streamers.
When it comes to gaming, ColorOS 11 offers three different gaming modes. The low-power mode toggles down the clock speed of the CPU and GPU to offer better battery life. The Balanced mode offers basic CPU and GPU performance, and the competition mode runs the GPU and the CPU at their full capacity.
Black Screen Mode For Enhanced Battery Life
Suppose you are out and your smartphone battery runs low. With the black screen mode on the ColorOS 11, you could get extended battery life as it turns the screen to pitch black to save the battery as much as possible.
Nearby Share Makes Sharing Files Between Android Devices Easy
With Android 11 OS, Nearby Share is finally available for non-Pixel smartphones. This feature will let users share files between two compatible nearby Android smartphones without using the internet and is quite similar to Apple AirDrop.
This is a unified file sharing tool for Android smartphones and Oppo has backed in this feature on the ColorOS 11. Hence, a ColorOS 11 user can now share files with other Android 11 OS powered smartphone users without using any third-party app.
A Few Drawbacks
Though I thoroughly enjoyed ColorOS 11 on the Oppo Find X2, it still needs a few changes when compared to custom Android OS like OxygenOS from OnePlus. I had no issues with the overall user experience; however, it comes with a bunch of pre-loaded apps like browser and music player that I never use.
Not just that, I was not able to delete or disable some of the first party Oppo apps like Game Center, HeyTap Cloud, Music Party, Tips, and Phone Manager. Do note that, these are the apps that I will never use, and they are specific to Oppo smartphones and there are a lot of alternatives that do a better job.
I also noticed a few stutters and crashes while using the Oppo Find X2. Given I was testing a beta version of a software, these crashes are expected, and the company is likely to fix them prior to the stable ColorOS 11 release.
ColorOS 11 Adds Color To Stock Android
Stock Android OS is quite boring, especially if you don't know how to customize or don't want to waste time by customizing. These aren't the only features that are present on ColorOS, but they are some of the features that I personally liked.
There are also other features like dual Wi-Fi acceleration that connects two Wi-Fi networks or a Wi-Fi and cellular network to offer faster download speed. Overall, ColorOS 11 feels fast, fluid, and colorful at least on the flagship Oppo Find X2. Hope, Oppo could deliver a similar experience even on a budget and mid-range smartphones as well.