OnePlus' OxygenOS front-end is one of the best things about its phones, though it's always lacked a feature commonly found in rival devices — an always-on display mode. OnePlus tested it in the run up to the OnePlus 6's release, though it wasn't included in the final software when that device shipped back in 2018.
OnePlus teased that it would finally come through with an always-on mode this year, though we've heard or seen little about it — until now. OnePlus co-founder Pete Lau has tweeted a graphic (opens in new tab) with the caption "11 on display," hinting that the long-requested feature will debut in OxygenOS 11 (which is based on Android 11).
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What's more, Android Police (opens in new tab) has grabbed screenshots from a OnePlus marketing video shared on Chinese social media, depicting the design the company has reportedly chosen for its always-on interface.
11 "on display." 😉 pic.twitter.com/Y2prOL8NgeJuly 28, 2020
It's certainly distinctive. Most always-on display modes simply show the clock, date and weather, perhaps along with icons for notifications, and that's it. OnePlus' approach is much more visually unique, with a rainbow-colored bar running vertically across the display that represents how much the device has been used. Breaks in the bar represent screen time, so in a way, the always-on screen offers a snapshot of your digital wellbeing status at any given point.
At the top, you'll see a running tally of how many times you've unlocked your phone throughout the day, and at the bottom, you'll find notification icons.
It's a clever and useful look, though we're curious how OnePlus has been able to mitigate the effects always-on display modes have on battery life. Supposedly, that was the reason the company skipped including the feature on previous models, even as practically every other Android device maker (including Google) adopted it. As such, this upgrade could allow the OnePlus 8 to catch up to rivals such as the Galaxy Note 20 and Google Pixel 4a in a big way.
Modern OnePlus phones fare well in terms of battery life — the OnePlus 8 Pro made it over the 11-hour mark in our custom battery test while in 60Hz mode — so it would seem there's a bit of juice to spare for users who have been clamoring for this feature.
Also included in the video unearthed by Android Police are several other proposals for always-on interfaces that OnePlus has seemingly ditched. Looking at these mockups, it seems that was the right move. There's one involving concentric circles with a very neon '80s aesthetic, while another incorporates a bunch of blurred digital clocks which serve seemingly no purpose.
We don't yet know when OxygenOS 11 will be available to the public. However, the final developer preview of the software will reportedly release August 10, which could mean that OnePlus' always-on display technology could arrive right in time for the rumored OnePlus 8T this fall.