OnePlus One with a Pie-based ROM: Does it change much?

A closeup of the back of the OnePlus One showing its single rear camera.

Opinion post by
C. Scott Brown

Recently, I did a week-long experiment where I exclusively used a OnePlus One as my daily driver in an effort to see how the device has held up over the years. As part of that experiment, I used the device running the last official ROM available, which is based on Android 5 Lollipop.

Although I preemptively noted in the article that this might ruffle some feathers for Android Authority readers, I did it that way for a reason. The device is no longer supported by OnePlus so the Lollipop ROM is the most genuine way to use the device as the company left it. I also wanted to experience the device as the average smartphone user would, i.e. someone who doesn’t know about flashing ROMs and the like.

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However, now that the experiment is over I figured I’d do a little follow-up: how much of a different experience is it to use the OnePlus One with a current version of Android? To find out, I flashed LineageOS 16 — which is based on Android 9 Pie — onto the One and used it for a little while (not a full week this time, and not as my daily driver).

Below, you’ll find my thoughts on the experience. Just like in the main article, I’ll spoil it all for you ahead of time: the experience was definitely better, but the One is still no modern smartphone.

Hellooooo faster speeds

A OnePlus One leaning on a bench with the About Phone page pulled up.

One of the major complaints of my experience with the OnePlus One on the Lollipop ROM is how slow everything was. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor in the One is ancient by today’s standards and navigating around the device on Lollipop was a slog.

Thankfully, Android 9 Pie all but completely fixed this. All of my usual apps worked, which was nice, and opening and closing apps seemed nearly as fast as my OnePlus 6T. Data speeds on the One seemed to be about the same regardless of the ROM, but using the internet, watching YouTube videos, and downloading apps went much smoother than before.

Pie made the overall speeds on the One so much better. It was like a whole new phone in this regard.

Obviously, Android 9 Pie brings in many new Android features not present in Lollipop which only made the experience more enjoyable and more modern. For example, the revamped settings page was much easier to navigate, the addition of features like Do Not Disturb and Digital Wellbeing gave me much more power and control over my experience, and better customization features allowed me to eliminate aspects of the OS I don’t need (such as certain status bar icons).

In other words, Pie is simply better than Lollipop and using the One became immediately better by using it.

Battery life is much, much better

A OnePlus One on a bench with the battery settings page pulled up.

Since I didn’t do a full week running the OnePlus One through the wringer, I don’t have a totally firm grip on just how much Android 9 Pie positively affected battery life. Anecdotally though, it seemed like battery life was much, much better.

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As a quick-and-dirty test, I booted up the fully-charged One and left it sitting for a full 24 hours on my desk. I didn’t do anything with it, just let it sit there powered on and connected to Wi-Fi. After 24 hours in this state, the battery was still at 90 percent. I’d call that pretty good.

As another quick-and-dirty test, I played a 10-minute long YouTube video on full brightness. The battery dropped by three percent during this test, which isn’t great but certainly acceptable.

Overall, Pie seems to simply do a better job of optimizing battery life than Lollipop could ever do.

The awful camera is now just mediocre

A photo of a hand holding the OnePlus One smartphone using the camera app.

One of the biggest problems with the OnePlus One, when you compare it to modern smartphones, is the camera. You can read my original article to see some comparison shots between the One and the OnePlus 6T, but I’ll save you a trip: the OnePlus One photos are very bad.

Thankfully, the default camera app that comes with LineageOS did a much better job when it comes to snapping photos. Not only did the photos come out looking better but the whole system was faster: opening the app, snapping a photo, snapping more photos, and then closing the app all happened at a speed I’m used to with modern phones.

Yes, the camera is better! No, the camera isn’t comparable to a modern phone.

However, the photos still didn’t look nearly as good as ones taken with a newer phone.

Unfortunately, I can’t easily flip-flop between ROMs so conducting a test to compare shots on Lollipop and Pie would be pretty difficult without having two OnePlus Ones. Suffice it to say that the update to Pie is absolutely worth it if you’re using an older device and want better photos.

The bottom line: Software can’t fix everything

The sandstone back of the OnePlus One.

As a few commenters pointed out (and as I pointed out in the original article), using a One with modern software absolutely makes things better. Battery life is great, speeds are up-to-par, and even the camera is actually usable.

However, the software upgrade doesn’t address many of the other issues I had with the device. There’s still no fingerprint sensor which is a usability nightmare. The phone still takes a long time to charge due to the ultra-slow MicroUSB port. The camera is certainly better, but still sub-par for any kind of regular use, especially if you’re a shutterbug.

Software simply doesn’t fix everything.

In the comments of my original article, one person called me out by saying that just because the OnePlus One doesn’t match up with modern flagships doesn’t mean it won’t work for people in certain situations. Not everyone can spend $1,000 on a new phone, after all.

Android 9 Pie makes the OnePlus One much better, but adding new software doesn’t magically add in new hardware.

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While this is absolutely true, the OnePlus One still can’t hold up to even most budget phones of today. You can easily find a brand new 2019 phone below $300 that will have USB-C charging, a larger battery, a fingerprint sensor, and a dual camera system. If $300 is still too much, you can buy a used smartphone for under $200 with all these features.

I’d like to close this out by reiterating something I said in the original article: I love this phone. This was the device that made me love smartphones and will honestly always be one of my all-time favorites, no matter how old it gets. I understand, though, that times have changed and what was once suitable for daily use just isn’t anymore.

This OnePlus One is going to go into a drawer where it will stay unused for a long time, but it won’t be forgotten.

NEXT: From OnePlus 6T to OnePlus One: A week with a 5-year-old phone

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Motorola’s third Android One phone might be called the One Vision

Motorola released the One and One Power in 2018, and it looks like another Android One phone is on the horizon. XDA-Developers reported today that the company is working on its third Android One smartphone, called the Motorola One Vision.

The phone is expected to sell as the Motorola P40 in China. Regardless of the name, the phone corroborates a previous report and supposedly features a dual-camera system with a 48-megapixel primary sensor.

According to the report, the One Vision doesn’t take 48MP pictures — the phone defaults to 12MP. That’s due to the octa-core Samsung Exynos 9610 that reportedly powers the One Vision.

Samsung confirmed to XDA-Developers that the Exynos 9610 is capable of multi-image processing with no post effects at up to 108MP at 8fps. That breaks down to 48MP at 18fps, which is below the 30fps needed for Zero Shutter Lag (ZSL). That means it’ll take longer for the One Vision to take a 48MP picture relative to a 12MP picture.

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As it relates to the camera, Motorola is reportedly working on two new features — Video 3D HDR and Long Exposure, the latter of which should help in low-light situations. We don’t know what “3D HDR” entails, but we might learn more about the feature over time.

Elsewhere, the One Vision reportedly features a 6.2-inch display with Full HD+ (2,520 x 1,080) resolution and a cut-out for the selfie camera, 3GB or 4GB of RAM, 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of storage, a 3,500mAh battery, and Android 9 Pie out of the box.

According to XDA-Developers, the One Vision will be available in Latin America, China, and other international markets. No exact launch timeframe or pricing were provided, though the phone will be available in blue, gold, and possibly other colors.

NEXT: Moto Z4 render suggests Moto Mod support, in-display fingerprint sensor

Nokia 5.1 now getting a healthy serving of Android 9 Pie

Nokia 5.1 smartphone

HMD Global chief product officer Juho Sarvikas announced on Twitter yesterday morning that the company is now pushing out Android 9 Pie to the Nokia 5.1. That makes the Nokia 5.1 the fourth Nokia smartphone to get Pie this year so far.

Exact details weren’t disclosed, but we’re expecting a phased roll-out over the next few days. We also don’t know how large the download is, though we’re expecting it to be at least one GB — make sure you’re on Wi-Fi before you download.

With Pie, the Nokia 5.1 should now have new system navigation functionality, Adaptive Battery, Adaptive Brightness, and App Actions. There isn’t yet a changelog to confirm these features — the Nokia 8’s Pie update excluded Adaptive Battery, so perhaps not every Pie feature is available on the Nokia 5.1.

It’s nice to see HMD Global continually on top of its Pie roll-out — the company came out on top in terms of how quickly it updated a wide swath of its devices by the end of 2018.

According to HMD Global’s Pie timeline, the next Nokia smartphones to get Pie by the end of March are the Nokia 3.1 and Nokia 2.1. Following these devices are the Nokia 3 and Nokia 1, which will get Pie in “early Q2 2019.”

NEXT: Nokia in 2019: Onwards and upwards

Right when we’re talking about Android Q, here’s HTC with its Android Pie plans

HTC Sense

With the first Android Q developer preview supposedly dropping any day now, it’s easy to forget HTC is still lagging when it comes to its Android 9 Pie rollout. HTC finally provided a status update on Twitter for device owners, though they won’t like what they read.

According to HTC, it’s still working on the Pie update for the HTC U11, U11 Plus, and U12 Plus. HTC also mentioned that the update will rollout to the aforementioned smartphones starting Q2 2019, though phones purchased through carriers are at the mercy of those carriers.

The newer phones will likely get prioritized, so U11 owners might be waiting longer than U11 Plus and U12 Plus owners. That said, HTC smartphone owners have been waiting a long time anyway for Pie to hit their devices.

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HTC originally announced the Pie rollout back in August 2018, when Google officially released the update’s final version. Since then, only the Android One edition of the U11 Life received the update. What hurts is that HTC launched the U11 Life in 2017 and pushed out Pie to that phone first, even though the U12 Plus is much newer and the company’s current flagship.

What also hurts is that the HTC Sense version of the U11 Life won’t get Pie, even though the hardware is the exact same as the Android One version.

It seems like HTC isn’t taking software updates as seriously as it did before, and why would it? The company experienced a rough 2018, with 2019 shaping up to be an extension of prior struggles. Slow software updates are not a death knell by any means — hey, Samsung — but it doesn’t help when those updates come (or don’t come) from a company like HTC.

Good Lock will be compatible with Android 9 Pie on March 8

Samsung Good Lock 2018.

When the Android 9 Pie beta program began on the Samsung Galaxy S9 last year, users were disappointed to see that Samsung’s Good Lock app didn’t fully work with the upgraded operating system. Samsung promised full compatibility would eventually arrive.

Well, true to its word, Samsung is pushing an update to Good Lock which will enable Android 9 Pie compatibility this coming Friday, March 8 (via SamMobile).

If you don’t own a Samsung device, you might not be aware of Good Lock. The app allows for massive amounts of customization throughout a Samsung device with no need for root or ADB knowledge. It lets you change your lock screen, quick settings menu, task changer window, and more.

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The Samsung Good Lock team isn’t just bringing Pie compatibility, either. It also revealed that there are some new features on the way, including new styles for the recent apps screen, the return of multi-window functionality, and some new One UI style tweaks.

There’s also the possibility that the Samsung Galaxy S10 camera feature known as Best Shot could make its way to other Samsung devices via Good Lock. This feature will allegedly be called Nice Shot but will offer the same functionality (help users frame a scene properly before they take a photo).

If you use a Samsung device with Android 9 Pie, be on the lookout this Friday for the updated version of Good Lock, and then get to customizing!

NEXT: Samsung Good Lock gets nav bar customization and dozens of new icons

Asus reveals which phones will get Android 9 Pie

Asus Zenfone 5Z

It hasn’t exactly been a quick Android 9 Pie rollout for Asus, even though it’s been six months since Google rolled out the final stable version of the update. That said, at least Asus made it easier on phone owners and announced an Android 9 Pie upgrade plan for its phones.

Here’s the list of Asus smartphones that will get the update:

  • Zenfone 4 Max (ZC554KL)
  • Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZD553KL)
  • Zenfone 4 Max (ZC520KL)
  • Zenfone Live (ZB553KL)
  • Zenfone 4 Max (ZB520KL)
  • Zenfone Max Plus (M1) Clear Soft Bumper (ZB570TL)
  • Zenfone 5Q (ZC600KL)
  • Zenfone Live (L1) Clear Soft Bumper (ZA550KZ / ZA551KL)
  • Zenfone Max Pro (ZB602KL)
  • Zenfone Max Pro (ZB601KL)
  • Zenfone Max (M1) Clear Soft Bumper (ZB555KL / ZB556KL)
  • Zenfone 5 (ZE620KL)
  • Zenfone 5Z (ZS620KL)
  • ROG Phone (ZS600KL)
  • Zenfone Max Pro (M2) Clear Soft Bumper (ZB631KL/ ZB630KL)
  • Zenfone Max (M2) Clear Soft Bumper (ZB633KL / ZB632KL)
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Of note is the Zenfone 5Z, which already received its Android 9 Pie update at the end of January. The Zenfone Max Pro M2 also received the update, albeit in beta form and with the inability to downgrade to Android Oreo if something goes wrong.

Asus didn’t say exactly when the devices would get Android 9 Pie, only that they would get the update this year. Asus also didn’t state if it’s prioritizing some handsets over others. We’ll have to wait and see how Asus’ upgrade plan unfolds as we go further into 2019.

What version of Android are you running? (Poll of the Week)

Last week’s poll summary: Last week, we asked you if you’d ever buy a slider phone. Surprisingly, out of almost 56,000 total votes, the results were pretty much split down the middle – roughly 50.5 percent of voters said they wouldn’t buy a slider phone, while 49.5 percent said they would.

Android updates may be rolling out faster than ever before, but the majority of users still aren’t running the latest version of Android. At least, we think — Google hasn’t updated the Android distribution dashboard since late October 2018. At that time, Android 9 Pie wasn’t even on the chart, meaning it was installed on less than 0.1 percent of all Android devices.

See For Yourself

However, thanks to initiatives like Project Treble, third-party manufacturers have been able to roll out Android 9 Pie to their devices much quicker than ever before. We looked at the data and found many manufacturers averaging roughly 118 days before rolling out Pie to their devices, whereas the number was closer to 170 days for the Oreo update.

We want to hear from you. What version of Android is your phone running?

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

Next: Android Q: The top features we know about so far

Android 9 Pie certified for the Samsung Galaxy A7, A8, and A9 (2018)

The Samsung Galaxy A8.

If you own the Samsung Galaxy A7, A8, or A9 (2018), there’s good news for you today — the Wi-Fi Alliance certified all three smartphones for Android 9 Pie. That means all three of Samsung’s 2018 mid-range offerings are one step closer to the latest Android platform update.

This somewhat runs counter to Samsung’s updated software roadmap, which does not include the normal Galaxy A8 (2018). Perhaps the exclusion was a mistake on Samsung’s end, since the roadmap includes the Galaxy A8 Plus and A9.

Regardless, Samsung’s 2018 A-series smartphones are slated to get Pie in April 2019. Because the rollout might take a bit, the April 2019 timeframe might be more of a starting point for the update.

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Keep in mind that most of Samsung’s devices, including the A-series smartphones, will not get the One UI overlay — only the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, Note 8, S9 and S9 Plus, and Note 9 will get One UI. The overlay makes it easier to get to certain UI elements with one hand and adheres to the  round aesthetic of Pie.

The stable Pie update with One UI rolled out to the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus in December 2018. The update isn’t available in every country yet, but it’s available in at least three countries at the time of this writing: Germany, the UAE, and Montenegro.

Huawei’s Android 9 Pie-based EMUI 9.0 rolling out globally (Update: India, too!)

huawei mate 20 pro

Update, January 11, 2019 (1:54PM EST): Honor announced that the EMUI 9.0 update is rolling out to the Honor 10, Honor View 10, and Honor Play in India. Don’t fret if you live in India and don’t get the update right away — the rollout will likely happen over the next few days and even weeks, so be patient.

Original article, December 19, 2018 (6:35PM EST): Huawei recently announced that its EMUI 9.0 Android overlay is rolling out to supported devices around the world.

In the next few days, EMUI 9.0 will roll out to the following devices:

The EMUI 9.0 update weighs around 4GB, so make sure you’re on a decent Wi-Fi connection. Those on the EMUI 9.0 beta can expect a smaller 770MB update to the stable release.

Keep in mind that the list of supported devices may grow over time. Devices like the Honor 8X, Huawei Mate 20 Lite, Honor 8C, and similarly-new Huawei and Honor devices might also get EMUI 9.0 down the road.

Based on Android 9 Pie, EMUI 9.0 uses AI to increase the system response speed by 25.8 percent. Huawei also claims that EMUI 9.0 shortens app startup by 102ms and increases overall system fluency by 12.9 percent compared to EMUI 8.1.

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EMUI 9.0 also features GPU Turbo 2.0, the next iteration of Huawei’s game optimization software. Huawei claims that GPU Turbo 2.0 lowers touch delays by 36 percent and decreases hot spots temperature by up to 3.6 degrees Celsius compared to EMUI 8.1.

You’ll also find Huawei’s versions of certain Google features in EMUI 9.0. For example, Digital Balance and HiVision take clear inspiration from Digital Wellbeing and Google Lens, respectively.

Finally, EMUI 9.0 includes a gesture-based system and a more streamlined experience that cuts the number of menus down from 940 to 843.

If you have a Huawei or Honor device that runs EMUI 9.0, let us know your experiences in the comments below!

LG has vague timeline for global rollout of Pie for the LG G7 ThinQ

According to a post on the South Korean version of the LG website, Android 9 Pie will land on the South Korean variant of the LG G7 ThinQ in the first quarter of 2019.

Usually, LG updates its devices in its home country first and then rolls out the update to other countries some months later. Using this history as a rubric, it’s a safe bet that Pie will land on your LG G7 ThinQ at some point in the first half of 2019.

Or hey, maybe not. Maybe it will be sooner or later than that.

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Unlike other manufacturers who have given at least somewhat concrete timelines for the rollout of Pie to their Android devices, LG’s report on the matter is very vague. However, the company did roll out a beta of Android 9 Pie to its South Korean G7 Thinq handsets in November, so maybe the stable rollout will happen sooner than we expect.

Earlier in 2018, LG promised it was building a new division with the sole purpose of pushing faster Android updates to its phones. However, we haven’t heard much at all about this new update center since then. Judging from the fact that Android 9 Pie has been stable since August of 2018, it doesn’t appear that the update center is up and running quite yet.

If you have an LG G7 ThinQ, you will get Android 9 Pie at some point. We’ll just have to wait on LG to announce exactly when that will be.

NEXT: Some LG G7 ThinQ owners are reporting bootloops, but a fix is coming