New hardware gives device makers a fresh opportunity to also customize their software. In fact, smartphones often ship with unique software features not available on other devices. This is a calculated bid to stand out. This is true of the OnePlus 7 Pro, which marked its debut earlier this week.
Zen Mode follows the example set by Google’s Digital Wellbeing initiative and takes it to its natural conclusion. When enabled, Zen Mode basically makes the OnePlus 7 Pro impossible to use. It puts the phone in a paused state that locks down nearly everything. For example, you can use the phone to call 911 when in Zen Mode, as well as receive calls from your dear old mother. You can also use the camera. That’s it. No notifications, no messaging, no other apps.
Zen Mode lasts for 20 minutes and the idea is to force people to put the device down and pay attention to something (anything!) else for at least a little while. Zen Mode stays on even if you restart the device. It features a clock that counts down the 20 minutes and, once it reaches zero, the OnePlus 7 Pro springs back to life.
OnePlus made sure to improve the low-light capabilities of the phone’s camera and called it Nightscape 2.0. This feature banks on the larger sensor of the OnePlus 7 Pro to capture more light. The 48MP sensor supports pixel binning, which effectively combines four pixels into one. This, paired with the powerful ISP of the Snapdragon 855 processor, helps the OnePlus 7 Pro take better pictures in darker environments when compared to the OnePlus 6T and OnePlus 6.
Last, there’s a screen recorder. This is a feature already available from some other phone makers, notably Apple and Huawei. The screen recorder simplifies the process of recording what you do on the phone’s screen. This is great for recording step-by-step directions that you can share with someone else. Google is expected to make this a native feature of Android eventually, but until then people will have to rely on OnePlus and others to offer it.
Trickle down theory
These are all neat features. Are any of them headed to OnePlus’ older phones, such as the OnePlus 6T and OnePlus 6? We asked OnePlus for the skinny.
“Zen Mode will be coming to the 6 and 6T in a future update,” said OnePlus to Android Authority via email. “Because of a hardware limitation, Nightscape 2.0 will remain exclusive to the 7 series.” The company didn’t have an immediate answer for the screen recorder, however, since that feature is strictly managed by software it’s not out of the realm of possibility that it, too, will appear on the 6 or 6T down the road.