ColorOS 13 review: Oppo’s interface based on Android 13

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ColorOS 13, Oppo’s new interface based on Android 13 has been available worldwide since August 18. We were able to test the new mobile OS on the Oppo Find X5 Pro and here is our opinion on the design and the functionalities of this overlay which succeeds ColorOS 12.

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ColorOS 13: Design

For ColorOS 13, Oppo has opted for a new design called aquamorphic. It is inspired by the movements of water and is meant to convey a feeling of fluidity in its icons and animations.

We are therefore moving away from the Material design of Android 12 with softer and less angular, more textured and less minimalist elements. But it’s far from a drastic change, especially since you can always switch back to the Material style through the customization options.

Visually, the ColorOS 13 interface is softer, less minimalist and more airy / © NextPit

A more noticeable visual change is what Oppo calls Card-Design. Basically, we move to a system of tiles or cards to structure the interface of certain applications such as the file manager or the Shelf pane. This configuration makes it possible to better ventilate the information displayed on the screen. But I find that the tiles also take up a lot of space for not much. It’s a matter of taste and at least it has the merit of not overloading the screen.

ColorOS 13 review

Oppo offers many customization options (font, type of animations, icon shape, transitions between applications) / © NextPit

Last visual innovation, Oppo has added new styles for the Always on Display. The manufacturer calls this new series “Homeland” and explains that it wants to represent different animal species in a logic of respect for the environment and biodiversity.

So we have three new Always on display which represent a family of polar bears, a family of penguins and a fish. Oppo says it wants to raise awareness of the impact of global warming on these species.

ColorOS 13 review

The new styles for your Always on Display in ColorOS 13 / © NextPit

In its explanations, the manufacturer suggests that the animations of these Always on Display are scalable, showing for example the ice floe gradually shrinking under the paws of the polar bear. But when I activated it, I always had the same animation. It’s a shame, even if it’s a nice gadget, as much as it works.

ColorOS 13: Ergonomics and fluidity

As mentioned earlier, we tested ColorOS 13 on an Oppo Find X5 Pro, a high-end smartphone with a state-of-the-art Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC. It is therefore obvious that I did not encounter any slowdowns or fluidity problems. To give you a more relevant opinion on this point, I would have to test ColorOS 13 on less powerful mid-range Oppo smartphones.

With that caveat in mind, I really have no complaints about the smoothness and ergonomics of ColorOS 13. The animations for opening and closing apps are very smooth. Dynamic wallpapers are very nice to see when activated when unlocking the smartphone.

A special mention for the scroll down gesture from the home screen. Usually, this lets you access the notifications panel. But in ColorOS 13, Oppo also offers you to assign this gesture to open its Shelf menu.

If you have a OnePlus, you know what that Shelf menu is. If not, I’ll explain it right below. But basically, I find this option less intuitive because it forces you to hold your thumb up the screen to access the notifications panel and quick settings. Personally, I would opt for the classic system.

I also find it a shame to have to deal with a dedicated application to manage utilities (battery, storage, privacy). They are already in the settings, why put them in an app called Phone Manager, like in MIUI 13 at Xiaomi? It is superfluous and can confuse users.

ColorOS 13 review

Why? / © NextPit

Oppo’s multitasking still works well though. I think only Samsung can compete in terms of intuitiveness. Floating windows, split screen, everything works without any friction.

Oppo also claims that thanks to its software work and the new Android 13 kernel, battery efficiency is now better with ColorOS 13. Also, more apps can stay active in the background, thanks to better battery management. memory, which Oppo calls always-on apps. Both improvements are part of what Oppo calls its Dynamic Computing Engine.

ColorOS 13: Features

With ColorOS 13, Oppo is bringing five notable new features.

Background information for Always on Display

The first is always displayed. ColorOS 13 lets you display visible pop-up information like a Spotify widget or track the progress of a food delivery without having to unlock your smartphone.

ColorOS 13 review

ColorOS 13’s Always on Display can show contextual information but very few apps are supported. / © NextPit

User control prediction

Oppo is also emphasizing its new user control intent prediction technology. ColorOS 13 is supposed to learn from your usage to make navigation easier by offering options based on your habits. Concretely, the only time I have seen this system come to fruition is when searching for applications via the application drawer. ColorOS 13 then offered me a list of apps that I use frequently, so I didn’t have to search for them.

ColorOS 13 review

For now, user order predictions are limited to suggesting apps. / © NextPit

meeting assistant

Another great feature is the meeting assistant to optimize your video conferencing calls. This feature can automatically prioritize wireless data packets to provide a more stable connection. It also simplifies banner notifications to minimize distractions, while allowing users to add a shortcut to Oppo Notes that lets you take notes through a small pop-up window.

However, in my version, it was impossible to find this functionality. The Oppo Notes app also doesn’t seem to exist at the moment. Shame.

Multi-screen connection

The multi-screen connection feature is supposed to provide seamless connectivity between smartphones, and between smartphones and PCs. In particular, it boosts file transfers by supporting more file formats without hardware limitations. You can also display multiple mobile apps on the PC screen simultaneously. Basically, it’s an improved version of the PC Connect feature implemented in ColorOS 12 last year.

Automatically pixelate your chat screenshots

Finally, ColorOS 13 offers a new privacy feature that I find very interesting. It allows you to automatically recognize and blur profile pictures and names in screenshots with one touch. This is very handy if you want to share an excerpt from a WhatsApp conversation, for example. And the feature works great.

ColorOS 13 review

This feature works great even with multiple speakers / © NextPit

ColorOS 13: Privacy

ColorOS 13 incorporates all the privacy features of Android 13. For example, the system automatically deletes clipboard history after a certain period of time, preventing information leaks caused by malware. Plus, with the Wi-Fi Nearby feature, you connect to Wi-Fi without revealing your specific location information.

ColorOS 13 also introduces a new Private Vault encrypted with AES to provide high levels of security.

ColorOS 13 review

Oppo integrates all the privacy options of Android 13 / © NextPit

ColorOS 13: updates and compatibility

For the global rollout of ColorOS 13, Oppo plans to update nearly 35 smartphone models within a year, covering more than 60 countries and regions, and no less than 160 million users. This is the biggest update plan in ColorOS history, according to the manufacturer.

The rollout begins this August 18, 2022 on the Find X5 Pro and Find X5 series with the official release of ColorOS 13 and will continue on more than 20 other devices from 2023.

You can find the complete list of Oppo smartphones eligible for upgrading to ColorOS 13 in a dedicated article.

Conclusion

ColorOS 13 is an Android overlay that gets better every year. It’s still light enough not to get lost in a mass of options and features like MIUI 13 or One UI 4. But it still offers a wide range of customizations to adjust the user experience to your own tastes.

It can be seen that Oppo is making efforts to implement the new features in each Android version. The design change doesn’t bring much to the table and the famous aquamorphic look isn’t really that special. It now remains to be seen how the OS reacts on less premium and therefore less powerful smartphones, in terms of fluidity.

In terms of features, ColorOS 13 brings some interesting changes, especially to optimize productivity and multitasking, which were already big highlights of the last version.

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