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Credit: OnePlus
  • OnePlus is switching phones in mainland China to Color OS rather than the usual Oxygen OS.
  • This reflects “different usage habits in the country,” according to OnePlus.
  • This takes effect starting with the OnePlus 9 series.

Oxygen OS won’t be the only software on OnePlus phones going forward. OnePlus has revealed that phones it sells in mainland China will ship with a customized version of Oppo’s Color OS, starting with the 9 series.

The move to Color OS will give Chinese users a platform that’s “better suited to their liking,” OnePlus said. The company wanted software that reflected the “different usage habits” of people around the world, and that apparently includes a different operating system in at least one country.

For now, at least, you won’t see Color OS on OnePlus phones outside of mainland China. Everyone else will continue to use Oxygen OS.

Related: OnePlus buyer’s guide

This isn’t the first time OnePlus has juggled more than one platform. Early OnePlus phones were split between Cyanogen OS in most of the world and Color OS in China, and there was a time when the China-specific Hydrogen OS and the international Oxygen OS coexisted. If anything, this is a return to past behavior rather than a radical break.

It’s not surprising that OnePlus would embrace Color OS in its home country. Oppo is now one of the largest phone makers in China, and OnePlus might ride its sibling brand’s coattails by offering the same software experience. It could also help OnePlus streamline its development work for Chinese customers by using the same basic code as Oppo devices.

This probably won’t thrill everyone, though. Many have argued that OnePlus stands out precisely because of Oxygen OS’ relatively lean, speedy take on Android. Between the new OS and a rapidly ballooning phone line, there’s a concern OnePlus may be losing its identity as it adopts more and more of Oppo’s strategy. Sales will likely dictate what happens next, though — you can expect OnePlus to stick with Oppo’s OS or even expand its use if there’s a corresponding uptick in sales.

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