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What is OnePlus Zen Space, and how does it work?

Sometimes enlightenment needs a big stick, not just a carrot.

Published onAugust 3, 2023

OnePlus 7 Pro Zen Mode
Zen Mode

One of the more unusual apps OnePlus offers for its smartphones is Zen Space, formerly known as Zen Mode. The intention of the app is to bring some peace into your life by making you put down your phone and focus on the real world for a bit. Zen is about non-judgmental contemplation of your thoughts and surroundings, after all.

How does Zen Space achieve its goals? In a nutshell, it locks you out of your phone for a set period of time. Your phone is powered on, and there are a few functions you can still use, but overall your phone becomes inoperable.

If you’re the kind of person who finds it hard to put their phone down and focus on tasks — or just difficult to “unplug” for a few minutes — Zen Space might be perfect for you. Check out our guide below on how it works, which phones it works on, and more.

What does OnePlus Zen Space do?

Zen Space has two primary modes, Deep Zen and Light Zen. As its name implies, Deep Zen is the most restrictive, locking you out of notifications and virtually every app as long as a session is active. The only things that remain accessible are camera and calling functions, and even then, the only calling functions allowed are answering calls and dialing emergency numbers.

Turning on Zen Space forces you to stop using your phone for a set amount of time.

Light Zen is a little more friendly, intended mainly to improve focus, say if you’re busy at work or thoroughly immersed in art, a book, or a workout. Selected apps can still be used, so if you’re being forced to keep up with your boss or co-workers via messaging apps, you don’t have to forego Zen Space entirely. You can exit Light Zen at any time, unlike Deep Zen.

When a session is underway, devices with always-on displays can optionally show that progress without you having to touch anything. Some other options include reminders to use Zen Space — particularly when you’ve been active on your phone too long — and a dashboard with stats and achievements.

Which phones have Zen Space functionality?

OnePlus 9 Pro vs OnePlus 9 camera vs camera
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

OnePlus introduced Zen Mode/Zen Space with the OnePlus 7 Pro. Since then, the company has pushed the app to other phones in its roster.

It should be noted that this is a OnePlus-exclusive feature — you won’t find it on phones from other manufacturers. However, other manufacturers might offer a similar function under a different name.

You’ll be able to give it a test on the following devices:

  • OnePlus 11 series
  • OnePlus 10 series — Includes the 10 Pro and 10T
  • OnePlus 9 and 8 series — Includes the 9, 9 Pro, 9R, 9RT, 8, 8 Pro, and 8T
  • Nord series — Includes the Nord, Nord 2, Nord CE, Nord CE 2, N10, N100, and N200
  • OnePlus 7 series — Includes the 7, 7 Pro, 7T, and 7T Pro
  • OnePlus 6 series — Includes 6 and 6T

If you own a phone that came out before the OnePlus 6 series, you will not have access to Zen Space. It’s unlikely OnePlus will bring this app to any of its older devices.

How to use Zen Space

There are a couple of ways of running Zen Space. If you’re new, you should always begin by launching the dedicated app, but after that it’s usually easier to use the Quick Tile in the notification shade.

Using the Zen Space app

  1. Open the app. If it’s not readily available on your homescreen, do a quick swipe up to use the Android app launcher.
  2. Inside the app, you’ll see three default session options. Before tapping on any of these, use the gear icon to change reminders and decide whether you want progress shown on an always-on display. Reminders can be scheduled daily and/or when phone usage passes a certain length.
  3. Default sessions include a 1-minute Deep Zen, a 60-minute Light Zen called Study, and an unlimited Light Zen called Work. Tap Start to launch one. With Light Zen sessions, tap on their time limit to change duration, background image, and allowed apps.
  4. To create a custom session, scroll to the bottom of the main page and tap New space. You’ll be asked to pick a name, an ambient sound, allowed apps, and a duration. Default durations are 25, 40, or 60 minutes, but you can also set a custom value (between 20 minutes and 3 hours) or no limit at all.

Using the notification shade

  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen to bring up the shade.
  2. Swipe down again to reveal Quick Tiles, then find Zen Space. You may need to swipe left to show its icon.
  3. Tap and hold on the Zen Space tile to bring up a list of premade sessions, then pick one.
  4. Alternately, if the session you want is already mentioned in the tile, you can do a quick tap to launch it immediately.

That’s everything essential to know about OnePlus Zen Space. Stay tuned for more Zen Space updates as they happen!

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