Bloatware has been sneaking onto OnePlus 12 and OnePlus Open — but OnePlus claims it’s an 'error'

OnePlus 12 held in the hand.
(Image credit: Future)

If there’s one thing we all hate when we buy a new phone, it’s discovering that there’s a bunch of random apps we can’t get rid of. Sadly, bloatware is still far too common, even on flagships, and OnePlus is the latest phone company to come under fire for installing third party apps on their phones.

The OnePlus 12 and the OnePlus Open are some of the best phones in their respective categories, offering a great mix of power, design, camera performance and the relatively clean version of Android called OxygenOS. Unfortunately, a new update means these devices have started adding bloatware apps during the setup process.

Gauraang Arora spotted that the setup process on the OnePlus 12 now includes a “review additional apps” screen. This screen shows 4 Google Play apps pre-selected by default, and it’s up to the user to unselect any apps they don’t want to install. Arora’s tweet shows Linkedin, Policybazaar, Block Blast! And Candy Crush Saga.

Android Authority has confirmed that those 4 apps are present during setup on Indian OnePlus 12 phones. In the U.S. that list is limited to LinkedIn, while EU users aren’t offered any non-Google apps.

The problem gets worse

Android Authority also noted that this particular screen is hidden, and not openly presented to the user at all. Instead it’s part of a “Review Additional Apps” toggle during the final part of the setup process. Which means skipping through the setup process will push these apps onto your phone without you even realizing you had a choice.

This particular screen also shows up on the OnePlus Open with what seem to be the same apps. However, Android Authority also spotted that the foldable features three extra apps once the setup is complete — Meta App Installer, Meta App Manager and Meta Services. All three apps have appeared on OnePlus flagships in the past, and are not easy to uninstall — leading to widespread criticism.

Android Authority cites OnePlus enthusiast 1NormalUsername, claiming the X user has been diving into code and uncovered evidence that other third-party apps that may be pre-loaded at a future date. They include the likes of Fitbit, Bubble Pop!. World Connect Wonders of View, Tile Match, Facebook, Amazon, Amazon Music, Amazon Prime Video, Zomato, Agoda and Swiggy.

 OnePlus claims it’s an error 

OnePlus released a statement to Android Authority, claiming that “The soft-preloads on OnePlus 12 was an error made during testing and has been rectified as of 6 May. The OnePlus 12 does not come pre-loaded with any of these apps and will continue to remain light, fast and smooth.”

Android Authority claims that the setup screen is still present, though we haven’t been able to verify this ourselves.

OnePlus also added that it endeavors to keep OxygenOS bloatware free, but notes that there were two pre-installed apps on the budget OnePlus Nord CE4. However, it notes that these apps are always easy to install, or reinstall if the user wishes.

While seeing bloatware on budget phones is far from ideal, it’s more understandable given the cheap nature of those devices. But if you’re paying premium prices, especially the $1,699 price tag commanded by the OnePus Open, the last thing you want is a bunch of software sneaking onto your phone.

Here’s just hoping this error gets fixed soon, and that it isn’t the precursor to even more bloatware on OnePlus phones.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.