[Update: Mar. 01] Is OxygenOS-ColorOS integration Oppo's entry plan into the U.S. market?

New updates are being added to the bottom of this story…

Original story (from Sept 26) follows:

OnePlus has changed. It’s no-longer the company that never wanted to settle, and instead it’s now settled. After a global roundtrip that started in China, India and found its way into the U.S., OnePlus is now back at home.

Biblically, OnePlus can be equated to the prodigal son. After getting its share of finances from Oppo (owned by BBK Electronics), OnePlus embarked on forging its own path outside China.

It started out in India, stepping in as the ‘flagship killer’ targeting young people with the desire for high-end specs and features but couldn’t match the price tags on premium Samsung Galaxy phones.

OnePlus One
OnePlus One

Besides being affordable, OnePlus phones quickly gained traction for the clean, AOSP-like take on Android software. At a time when other Android skins were quite terrible, OnePlus became an easy pick for the tech savvy.

But towards the end of last year, OnePlus’ overly likeable OxygenOS software took a turn that saw the introduction of a One UI-like design with OxygenOS 11. Of course, most of you weren’t fans of this change, but still prefer it to the older OxygenOS 10.

By this time, the company had already moved away from its ‘flagship killer’ mantra to selling actual flagship phones priced in the regions of $1000 akin to the Galaxies and iPhones of this world.

Sure, the Nord series of devices still confirms OnePlus’ status as an affordable brand, but it seems not even this was enough to keep co-founder Carl Pei under the wings of the company.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

But it’s the announcement over the summer that set the ball rolling in an unexpected direction. CEO and co-founder Pete Lau revealed that OnePlus was set to further integrate with Oppo to improve software updates.

This came after OnePlus had earlier confirmed plans to switch from HydrogenOS to ColorOS for its Chinese smartphone contingent.

And more recently, Lau announced “OnePlus 2.0”, a phase that will not only see OxygenOS and ColorOS teams fully merged to bring forth a unified operating system to run on OnePlus and Oppo devices, but also put the company back where it belongs.

It’s possible OxygenOS will completely cease to exist. In an interview with The Verge, Lau says the end product will be “fast and smooth” and “clean and lightweight” like OxygenOS, while also being “reliable” and “smart and feature-rich” like ColorOS.

Whatever that means is only known to him. But I’ll tell you what I think. And it’s that this is the beginning of the end for OnePlus as we once knew it.

Oppo Find X2 Neo

As you’d expect, the PR teams remain separate, which means OnePlus still intends to sell its brand as it is. Oppo will also continue doing its thing as usual.

But there’s a catch. There have always been some similarities between OnePlus and Oppo products. Sure, they both deny any of this, but we all know most OnePlus phones are usually “inspired” by some Oppo phone.

Also, both OnePlus and Oppo are owned by BBK Electronics, which also owns Vivo and Realme smartphone brands. This makes BBK one of the biggest names in the smartphone industry, but still not bigger than Samsung in the west.

The western market, or U.S. to be specific, is one that every smartphone brand wants a piece of, no matter how tiny. But Chinese companies have had to stay off due to various regulatory and privacy concerns.

Granted, it’s possible folks at BBK saw OnePlus, which over the years has managed to gain a foothold in western markets and carries no blemishes like Huawei and other Chinese vendors, as the perfect tool to push Oppo, the sole shareholder, into a market that has thus far remained untouchable for the Chinese company.

Unlike the prodigal son, OnePlus went back home with good news for its “parents.” Not only did the company manage to get into the U.S. market, but also strike carrier deals — something not even Huawei managed to achieve.

The recent OxygenOS-ColorOS integration seems like the final piece in what might have all along been Oppo’s plan to enter the U.S smartphone market.

Going forward, OnePlus devices will not only be inspired by Oppo in terms of hardware, but also software. This means folks in the U.S. will technically be buying Oppo devices customized for this market.

But given its Chinese background, it remains to be seen how long the U.S. government will continue doing business with OnePlus before pouncing. Probably only a matter of time.


Update 1 (October 03, 2021)

The results for the poll are out. An overwhelming majority (over 92%) agreed that OnePlus has been Oppo’s long-term plan to enter the U.S. market. In case you missed the poll, you can still share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Update 2 (March 01, 2022)

10:03 am (IST): OnePlus had previously announced that they are working on merging OxygenOS and ColorOS into one unified OS.

However, now the company has changed its plan to do so. OnePlus co-founder Pete Lau announced that while OxygenOS and ColorOS will share the same codebase, these two operating systems will remain independent.

Moreover, he also said that OxygenOS 13 will keep its unique visual design and other exclusive features. More on that here.

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Hillary Keverenge

Review Editor. Besides phones, I also enjoy the farm, music, football, and, of course, food.