(Pocket-lint) - Android 11 has been an opportunity for smartphone makers to improve their software once again, and with many manufacturers, it's not just a case of including Google's own optimisations and improvements. With ColorOS 11, Oppo has gone all-in on customisation and personalisation.
For Oppo it's about including improvements that it believes will benefit its users the most. Whether it's having fine-tuned control over how your phone looks and sounds, or how included apps - like Relax - can help you tune out and be mindful for a few minutes in your day.
We've had some time to play with ColorOS 11 and take a look at some of the new features. Slight forewarning: some of the new features seem to be missing with the current build of the software, we can only assume they'll be added fully later down the line.
- Announced in September 2020
- Release from December 2020
As with any major software update, the release is staggered across device ranges at different times. The first publicly available drop of ColorOS 11 will start to hit phones in December 2020, and includes the Find X2 and Find X2 Pro.
Other phone series and lower-powered models in the Find X2 series have to wait until 2021.
While a lot of what makes a new system update new is hidden beneath the surface in form of optimisations and other improvements, there's still plenty of user-facing updates here. You can check all the important highlights below.
Wallpapers, system themes and colours
Oppo's new software has a new personalisation page which features controls for customising many elements of your phone's look and feel. This is something that becomes immediately apparent when you first set up the phone. When freshly set up, the settings menu has a 'personalisation' tab right at the top, encouraging you to take a dive into the options.
After that, it's still really easy to find in the settings menu, with its own heading in the primary menu, so you don't need to go far to find it.
You can choose what shape and size your app icons are, as well as choosing the style for your drop-down quick settings toggles. What's more, you get to choose the system accent colour as well. This is the colour that appears throughout the system on things like settings menu icons, toggle switches and various other labels.
As for wallpapers, Oppo has made the built-in options virtually endless by giving you the ability to auto-generate a wallpaper yourself. This is one of the features that didn't appear in the software build we tested, there was no auto generating wallpaper. Rather, a selection of various static, live and themed wallpapers.
When live you'll get set styles and graphics, but you can pick the colour combination or use your camera to snap a picture and choose the primary colours from that. So if you want it to match your day's outfit, you can snap a photo of what you're wearing and choose a wallpaper that matches the day's attire.
If you thought a simple Dark Mode on/off capability was enough, Oppo is set out to prove to you that we need different degrees of 'dark'.
With ColorOS 11 you'll be able to choose between enhanced, medium and gentle dark themes with the level of contrast and darkness adjusted for each one.
Enhanced is where the background is completely black, with pixels switched off in AMOLED panels, and colours and white highlights are still quite bright and vivid. Medium features a dark grey background with less contrast, while the gentle mode features a lighter grey and more subdued colours.
You can set the times for when you want it to activate and deactivate, and even manually choose your own sunrise/sunset schedule so that it's not automatically chosen based on your location and time of year.
Oppo Sans is the company's newest font and is arguably the most customisable we've seen from any Android manufacturer. It comes with the options to adjust the size, but also the ability to adjust its weight with a number of different thicknesses available.
If you're the type of person who's never quite happy with the size, thickness, or adjustability of the text in your smartphone's menus and apps, this will suit you right down to the ground.
Taking a look through the options, there's also the ability to set this weighting to automatic, so it adapts to the app you happen to be in, which is really useful.
Android phones have used Always-on displays for years. Some manufacturers have utilised it more than others, but 2020 seems to be about making it even more customisable and offering far more in the way of personalisation.
With Oppo's version, you get to decide the colours scheme and style. But even more than that: you get to create your own animation. It uses a system-generated algorithm to give you a basic pattern template, but you get to decide how it moves and how detailed that pattern is simply by swiping on the screen.
It's a lot of fun to play with and use, giving you a lot of different animation patterns and styles to choose from. If you find the choice overwhelming, you can just hit the 'random' button to generate one automatically. Eventually you'll find one you like. Or, if you like you can choose a preset AOD screen, and even those come with a huge array of customisation options including text, styles and colour schemes.
As with a lot of smartphone software on the Android market, for some, this plethora of options can be a little overwhelming to begin with. Plus, we found with some of the options like selecting to adjust the aligment of text or trying to adjust the text location just didn't do anything. But this seemed to only be an issue on the preset, AOD lockscreen styles.
Sounds, ringtones and Relax
This is another feature that wasn't available in our build of the new software. But it sounds pretty cool nonetheless, for when it eventually hits a public-facing version of the software.
ColorOS 11 isn't just about personalised visuals, it can generate ringtones for you. The generator will give you the ability to choose a mood and pace of the music, and then adjusts and adapts the sequencing and tempo of the notes to match until you find a tone you're looking for.
That means you no longer have to choose from the limited - and almost always terrible - list of ringtones you normally get. You can generate one that suits you.
Alert tone sequences
It's nice to see a manufacturer care about how ringtones and alerts make us feel, and it's also shown in what it's done with repetitive alert beeps and tones. Instead of repeating the same note or jingle repeatedly and annoying everyone in earshot, Oppo has created a cool feature that will play a sequence of notes instead.
That means if you do suddenly get a cascade of messages, each alert will play after the other, but it'll play like a musical phrase or tune rather than just repeat the same jingle every single time.
Musicity - Relax app themes
One of the surprisingly great features in some recent Oppo phones it the Relax app, which is loaded with calming ambient soundtracks of waterfalls, storms, rain, sea and forests. It's a genuinely useful app to help you fall asleep at night, or just help you change the atmosphere in your home office when you're fed up with staring at the same four walls.
We've loved using it so far, but there's one feature missing that Oppo showed off in the announcement: Musicity.
The company teamed up with Musicity and went out to a number of cities across the world, capturing real audio from all of those cities to create soundscapes that represent those locations. With this added to the new version of Relax you could find yourself transported to Helsinki or Reykjavik or one of many other towns and cities.
Oppo was keen to inform us during its announcement of its deep integration and partnership with Google, and that extends to an enhanced screenshot feature which can translate any text on the screen.
Using one of Oppo's existing gestures, where you swipe down with three fingers, you can grab a screenshot of text on a screen and tap a translate button which uses Google Lens to translate the text.
Multi-tasking and other optimisations
Flex Drop - floating window
This seems to be a trendy feature for 2020 Android updates. Essentially, some apps within ColorOS have the ability to be resized and float on the screen over whatever else you might be doing.
It's called Flex Drop and you can either activate it by going to the recent apps screen and dragging the thumbnail to the Flex Drop icon, or you can drag in a smart bar from the edge of the home screen and launch an app in floating form from here.
Nearby Share - AirDrop for Android
Nearby Share is a feature that's been developed over recent months and essentially brings a service to Android phones that's similar to Apple's AirDrop.
Using it you can quickly send files, images and links to other phones nearby. Anyone with a phone within your Bluetooth range can be sent stuff instantly, without using any messaging apps.
Animations and optimisations
Something that's perhaps less noticeable is the work behind the scenes. Oppo says it has optimised a load of animations in ColorOS 11 which makes the much smoother, with no frame drops or lag. There have also been improvements to battery life and enhancements to the way Oppo phones collaborate and interact with smarthome/IoT products and wearables.
Will my phone get ColorOS 11?
Oppo has said that 28 device models will upgrade to ColorOS 11, with the beta version rolling out now and official public availability coming a few months down the line to the following devices:
- Find X2 Pro
- Find X2
- Find X2 Pro (Lamborghini edition)
- Reno 3 4G
- Reno 3 Pro 4G
- Reno 4 Pro 5G
- Reno 4 5G
- Reno 4 Pro 4G
- Reno 4 4G
- Reno 10x Zoom
- Reno 2
- Reno 2 F
- Reno 2 Z
- Reno Z
- F17 Pro
- F11 Pro (inc. Marvel edition)
- A5 2020
- A9 2020
Of course, the timing of when you get the release depends on the model you have, with oppo prioritising the latest Find X2 series phones first from December this year. Some of the older devices likely won't get it until later on in 2021.