Google dropped Android 13 into the AOSP this week which means that it will start rolling out to devices in the next couple of months.  OPPO has today launched the global version of its latest Android-based operating system, ColorOS 13, to global users. ColorOS 13, brings with it some great new theming, features and more.

I’ve been lucky to have been using an OPPO Find X5 Pro running ColorOS for a while now and have added our thoughts on it below.

The new ColorOS 13 theme brings with it some “softer” transitions which turn out to be smoother but slightly slower along with a new Aquamorphic Design.  The Aquamorphic Design includes new icons, new illustrations, and updated fonts.  The new UI is designed to be more “fluid, vibrant, and inclusive”.

It includes “a new Theme Palette inspired by the changing colour of light between sunrise and sunset at sea level” and new card-style layout – no doubt incorporated from OnePlus as they have used a card-style layout for a few years now.

EFTM thoughts: The new design is certainly more pleasing to the eye, just like Google’s changes to Android with Material You: designed to fit you and how you use the phone. The card-style layout does make reading the display and finding content easier.  The transitions are “softer” and while they seem smooth, they are slower with me often wanting them to hurry up.  No one has been able to match Google with their Pixel experience delivering smooth but speedy transitions.  Overall, I like the new design and it is an improvement over ColorOS 12, which is not all that bad these days.

A new design which I thought deserved its own section is the Quick Settings.  Google has played around with the design of the Quick Settings for a long time now and this time OPPO has decided to change it up even more in ColorOS 13.  The new Quick Settings are a mix of Android Quick Settings and Apple’s Control Centre – and I don’t hate it.  OPPO actually calls it the Control Centre as well, but it is still accessed by a swipe down from the top – OPPO previously used a swipe up for the Quick Settings in earlier versions of ColorOS and I hope they don’t return to that.

There are two large tiles at the top, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth by default but that can be changed to whatever tile/shortcut you want.  They still have the same actions as the other tiles, but the larger icon area allows for easier toggling and easier access to the popup menu to decide which Wi-Fi network to connect to or which Bluetooth device to connect to.  This ability to access Wi-Fi separate to data might make some Android users happy, especially those who have been frustrated with Google’s decision to not allow users to separately access cellular data and Wi-Fi from the Quick Settings.

EFTM Thoughts: Instead of the Now Playing widget, which was previously below the Quick Settings toggles, it now sits next to the larger buttons at the top.  I’m not convinced that I like this change as it doesn’t show the album art on the widget.  Tapping on the small widget though brings up a pop-up widget that shows the album art that allows finer control of the media.  It’s just an extra click and although the popup does bring more control to your fingertips, I’m not convinced it is required.  It’s not a deal breaker though.

Although it is different, I like the larger two main Quick Settings toggles and the theming of it is much improved.

The OPPO home screen, which in the end most users end up using because they don’t know there are better options, includes a new way to enlarge a folder so that you do not have to open the folder to access the apps inside.  It takes up slightly more room on the home screen but can hold many apps inside it and they are accessed by swiping across on the folder.  

EFTM Thoughts:  I like this change.  I always change my launcher to Nova Launcher after a few days using any device anyway but for those who use the manufacturer home screen this will be a welcome addition with much greater functionality.

Another OnePlus feature that OPPO has introduced to ColorOS is one of the new Always-On Display themes.  They have integrated the OnePlus Insight Always-On Display which shows how much you have used your device to help with your digital well-being – the buzz word and feature a couple of years ago.  OPPO has also integrated Spotify and Bitmoji Always-On Displays so if you are a fan of either of these you will love using these.  

ColorOS 13 also brings OPPO’s new Multi-Screen connect which allows direct connection between OPPO phones, OPPO Pad Air (not available here) and PCs.  It allows for direct transfer from one device to the other by a simple copy and paste by syncing the clipboard between the two.

Under the hood OPPO brings better background usage and control of apps. Even though they promise an improved battery life they also promise that more apps can be left open for longer – instead of being closed by overly aggressive battery management.  True wizardry if true and in my usage, I did not see any closed apps but the battery life did seem better than previously – but it was already good anyway.

All of the enhanced security and privacy features that Google introduced with Android 13 have also been integrated into ColorOS 13 while also including all their own added security features. 

One example of a new OPPO security feature on ColorOS 13 is Auto Pixelate which is based on the on-device algorithm model, profile photos are recognised and blurred out in chat screenshots automatically with one tap.  Unfortunately Auto Pixelate is only supported in WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger at this stage and although it works well I’m not sure when I’d use it.  ChoosingBeggers subreddit maybe?

With so many of us still spending so much time in virtual meetings OPPO has introduced a new Meeting Assistant.  This Assistant changes banner notifications to a simpler version to help you maintain focus when you are in Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom meetings.  Under the hood it also uses an on-device algorithm model to prioritise the sending of data in online meetings to optimise the network for a smoother network experience while in the meeting.

At this stage there is only a timeline for the beta rollout of ColorOS 13 with OPPO’s flagship Find N foldable smartphone and Find X5 Pro flagship smartphone previously announced as two of the first smartphones worldwide to receive the ColorOS 13 Beta update.  

OPPO plans to update 35 smartphone models within the year, covering more than 60 countries and regions, and as many as 160 million users. This is the biggest update plan ever in the history of ColorOS. This rollout will begin with the Find X5 Pro and Find X5 today with the official release of ColorOS 13. OPPO will then continue to bring ColorOS 13 to over 20 more devices starting in 2023. 

At this stage it is unclear whether Aussies will be able to access the beta update but having used it, I can say that I don’t think it will be long before the stable version is available to users.  Hopefully it arrives Downunder without too much delay.