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Color OS 12 Hands-On Review: What’s Coming To Your Oppo & OnePlus Smartphones?
We have been testing a very special Oppo Find X-series for over a week now. The handset runs the beta version of the Android 12-based Color OS 12, which marks a tectonic shift for OnePlus users. The new Color OS 12 will be made available for eligible Oppo devices (Reno 6 Pro, Reno 6, Reno 5 Pro, etc.) and will also serve as a base for the upcoming unified OS for Oppo and OnePlus devices.
While the end of the line for the Oxygen OS is sad and will disappoint the loyal OnePlus users, the new Color OS 12 seems to pack all the ingredients to compensate for the loss. It is visually pleasing, comes loaded with utilities and puts a lot of emphasis on basics. If you have an eligible Color OS 12 device, the following hands-on review will give you an idea about what to expect from your handset in the coming months.
Color OS 12 Visual Aesthetics & Ease Of Use
The Color OS has always felt more intuitive and visually pleasing in comparison to other Android-based custom skins in the market. The new update makes it a bit more welcoming and seamless to use. There are subtle refinements in the user interface that makes the new skin more user-friendly and pleasing to the eyes. You might not always notice them but they do make the skin lightweight, clean and customizable.
For instance, the better test rendering, updated typography and iconography, good use of white space across the UI (Settings panels, App interfaces, home screens, etc.) and the right amount of customizability makes the new Color OS fun to use. The default font is easy on the eyes and the updated icons have a bit of a 3D feel that makes them more relatable to real-life objects. The battery section in the settings menu is now more informative.
Smoother Animations & Better Language Support
The infinite design concept also improves the animations across the UI and gives Oxygen OS feels. The animations simulate real-life experiences such as elasticity, inertia and rebound, thus establishing a link between the software and the physical attributes of using physical objects. You will feel them while opening/closing apps, unlocking the device, switching from one app to another, etc. That said, the OnePlus users will feel right at home in this particular aspect while using the upcoming unified OS in 2022.
The Color OS 12 also puts a lot of emphasis on inclusivity. Since it is a global beta update, the new skin will support 67 languages including 13 major Indian languages.
Touch Of Material You By Google
Oppo has tried to preserve some stock elements of the Android 12. The Color OS 12 has the wallpaper-based ‘Theming system' in Material You that changes the UI colors by picking shades from the wallpaper applied on the home screen. The customizability feature is only available in Google Pixels and might come to other custom Android skins.
You will also find traces of stock Android 12 in Google app widgets such as Google Keep and Drive. Lastly, the Material-style icon pack is also a nice touch to the overall package. I wish to see more Material You touches in the final build of the Color OS 12 but I doubt it will happen. Nevertheless, the Color OS 12 tries to give you that Stock Android 12 feels and does it well.
Color OS 12 Utilities
Coming on to the utilities, the Color OS 12 has a fair share of them to help you make the full out of the Android software ecosystem. My personal favourite is the Icon pull-down gesture that makes it easy to fire up any app on any home screen in a jiffy. It is a handy tool for users with smaller fingers who face difficulty in reaching the top corners of the big screen handsets.
Moving on, there's a list of useful features in the ‘Special Features' section in the settings menu. These include- Quick launch (Opens apps while unlocking the phone), Floating windows for better multitasking, Smart sidebar (Opens selected apps and functions instantly), Retouch appearance for video calling, 3-finger screenshot and translate, Background stream and more. Besides, there's a dedicated Kids space and Games app (Oxygen OS) for a better gaming experience.
The games mode now shows FPS in real-time and you also get a redesigned battery section with nifty tips such as recommendations to optimize apps that are taking a toll on the battery life. You can also recover uninstalled system apps with just one touch in the Apps section in the settings menu.
Color OS 12 Privacy Features
The Color OS 12 also focuses on enhancing privacy features for users. You get the Android 12's Privacy Dashboards feature, which is a very handy tool to inform you about individual apps accessing your handset's hardware. You can set apps to have ‘Approximate Location' that makes them functional but keep your exact location hidden. Safety & emergency is another handy tool to help you get in touch with friends and family in case of a mishap. You can add emergency contacts, medical information, enable auto-send SMS with the location for quick assistance.
Oppo also mentions that the user data (saved in a non-plain text format) stays in the nearby servers and is transmitted using a proprietary protocol. Besides, the Color OS 12 features daily privacy utilities such as App lock, Private safe, System cloner and Hide apps app.
Overall, Oppo has done some good things with the privacy aspect of the Color OS. It gives more control in the users' hands, exactly how it should be in the first place.
Some Hiccups With The Beta Build
Since Oppo has only released a beta build, we faced some issues with the software. If you plan to upgrade any Oppo/OnePlus device, you might face such issues. These include- microphone issues on voice calls, delayed/no notifications (Twitter, WhatsApp, etc.), inconsistent windows animations and blank white spacing in the control centre (notifications area).
I also faced a bug where the phone kept showing a disconnected voice call for three and half hours. The timer kept ticking although the call was cut within ten minutes. A quick phone restart solved the persistent bug. We expect Oppo to fix all these issues in the final build to be rolled out in the coming months for the Oppo devices.
Eligible Devices & Timeline
The Color OS 12 will roll out in the Indian market from November 2021 starting with the Reno series - Reno6 Pro 5G, Reno6 Pro Diwali Edition, Find X2, and Reno6 5G. The F-series and A-series devices will start receiving the beta build by December 2021. More Oppo devices will join the list in the coming months.
If you have installed the latest beta build of the Color OS 12, let us know about your feedback in the comments.