Without these 9 changes, your OnePlus One sucks

Have you read our review of the OnePlus One yesterday? If you haven’t, please do!

I wasn’t blown away by the software, a modified version of CyanogenMod built specifically for the OnePlus One, when I first experienced it. After some tinkering however, I got the phone just the way I like it and now I’m in love. So today’s follow-up post is about those customization decisions. Yes, this is another excuse to geek out, but what’s a blog for if not to do that?

This is not a complete list by any means — the amount of customization possibilities are endless — but these are the 9 changes I recommend to get a great experience with the OnePlus One. I’d go so far as to say that without these 9 changes, the OnePlus One simply isn’t very good.

1) Face unlock

Perhaps my favorite thing about the iPhone 5S is Touch ID. It was so easy to unlock the phone that I couldn’t imagine going back to passcodes and patterns. The first priority was therefore to figure out how to unlock the OnePlus One; because I access cloud accounts with my phone, security is definitely required.

I was surprised by how well face unlock works on the OnePlus One (Settings > Lock screen > Screen security > Screen lock). Perhaps it’s the 5 megapixel, wide lens front facing camera. Regardless, the phone was able to recognize me smiling or frowning, rocking headphones or even wearing a cap. I don’t have to be fully facing the camera, though the speed of recognition goes up when I do. Recognition works best with sufficient light.

Face unlock works fast. Not as quick as Touch ID, but quicker than passcodes and patterns.

I tested it with half a dozen people to see whether it would unlock for another face; thankfully, the phone didn’t recognize anyone else. There’s a trick where you can show a photo of a person and the phone would unlock. To combat that, you can require blinking eyes but that proved too cumbersome. If a thief stole my phone, I’m hoping he won’t know my identity.

Face unlock is not as good as Touch ID, but it’s better than passcodes and patterns. The latter are inconvenient because with the phone’s large size, two hands are required. One hand is all you need for face unlock.

2) Double tap to wake and swipe to sleep

With its 5.5 inch display, the OnePlus One isn’t the easiest phone to hold. Tapping the power button to open the phone can be a hassle. Fortunately, you can simply double tap the screen to wake up the phone — this is on by default.

The size of the phone also makes closing the phone with the power button inconvenient. There’s a shortcut for that as well. Go to Settings > Interface > Quick launch shortcuts for 4.4.2 and Settings > Buttons > Quick launch shortcuts for 4.4.4 — note that this requires on-screen buttons to be on. Once there, configure it so swiping up-to-the-left from the home button closes the phone.

I can now comfortably open and close the phone with one hand, which makes the phone’s large size quite manageable.

Note: you can of course swipe much faster than what I demoed in the video above.

3) Home and work profiles

The above two tweaks make the OnePlus One much more comfortable to operate, but it was still annoying to do face unlock at home, in the dark, on the couch, watching TV. When you’re safely at home, you don’t need to fear burglars (as much anyway) so there’s less need for security.

Welcome to profiles. Under Settings > Profiles, tap the settings icon for Home.  Set Lock screen mode as disabled. Now look to the bottom and tap on the geo icon and choose the WiFi network in your home. This means that every time you connect to your WiFi network at home, the phone will no longer require an unlocking procedure. You can do the same for Work. Then go to Default, tap the geo icon, and have the Default profile trigger whenever you disconnect from your home and work WiFi networks.

Screenshot_2014-08-04-18-18-20  Screenshot_2014-08-04-18-18-35
The above is confusing but worth figuring out 

What this means is that when you’re at home or at work, simply double tapping will open the phone, no unlocking required. And when you’ve left home or work, the phone will automatically require an unlocking procedure.

You’re welcome! 😉

Note: you can do other useful things with profiles, e.g. silencing the phone at work, maxing out the volume at home, etc.

4) Turn off V gesture shortcut

By default, while the phone is asleep you can draw a V to quickly toggle the flashlight. Do you really want this though? How often do you need that flashlight? Moreover, it’s easy to accidentally trigger the flashlight when the phone is in your pocket, which drains battery and makes you feel like a fool. So I disabled it under Settings > Interface > Gesture shortcuts > Flashlight for 4.4.2 and Settings > Gestures > Flashlight for 4.4.4.

5) On-screen buttons

One of the coolest things about the OnePlus One is that it you have the option to go with on-screen or capacitive navigation buttons (under Settings > Buttons > Enable on-screen nav bar). If you choose on-screen, fear not, the capacitive buttons become practically invisible.

There are pros and cons either way. I chose on-screen because I hold the phone with my left hand and it’s a stretch to tap the capacitive back button. Unfortunately, many Android apps still rely on the back button so this is a big inconvenience.

photo 2  photo 3
Hitting the capacitive back button is an uncomfortable stretch for my small hands…no correlation to size of other body parts

With on-screen controls, the back button is easy to access. I also like that if an app requires a context menu, the button for it will automatically appear.

Another advantage with going on-screen is that it allows you to hold the phone by the chin, which can be helpful for long periods of reading.

6) Don’t wake on plug

I found it annoying that when I connected or disconnected the phone from a power source it automatically woke up. To turn this off, go to Settings > Display & lights > Wake on plug.

7) Battery percent

Who doesn’t want to see the battery percent? Yet it’s turned off by default. To turn it on, go to Settings > Interface > Status bar > Show battery status percent for 4.4.2 and Settings > Status bar > Show battery status percent for 4.4.4.

8) Smaller icons

By default the app icons on the home screen are comically large. To make the icons smaller in 4.4.2, go to Settings > Home > Settings > General and un-tick Larger icons.

With the 4.4.4 update, to make icons smaller, go to an empty part of your home screen and long press.

wpid-wp-1418627866752.png wpid-wp-1418627874761.png

You should see a gray panel slide up from the bottom with three icons: wallpapers, widgets and themes. See the up arrow consisting of three dots? Tap that or slide up to reveal a full menu.

Scroll down and you should see Larger icons. Tap to switch it to OFF.

9) Themes

One of the amazing things about CyanogenMod is the ability to customize the phone’s style, icons, fonts, wallpapers, lock screen wallpaper, boot animations and even sound. Out of the box you get Hexo (CyanogenMod’s official theme) and Holo (Android stock).

Screenshot_2014-08-04-11-17-47  Screenshot_2014-08-04-11-18-02
Hexo, the default theme, is not too bad

Screenshot_2014-08-04-11-20-21  Screenshot_2014-08-04-11-20-30
Holo, stock Android theme (yawn, boring)

There’s also a theme store in the Theme Showcase app. I can recommend Flux ($2), which has amazing icons and an attractive style. You don’t have to install the entire theme; for example, you might choose just the icons from Flux and keep everything else Hexo. You can mix and match to your heart’s content.

Screenshot_2014-08-04-11-16-11  Screenshot_2014-08-04-11-21-01
Flux, the theme I am currently using

Themes can be light or dark — avoid the light ones, because there are parts of the OS where light font is displayed against a light background. When that happens, text is nearly impossible to read. These thematic bugaboos can’t be fixed apparently, but if you go with a dark theme you won’t have to worry about this happening.

Screenshot_2014-08-04-11-19-46  Screenshot_2014-08-04-11-19-55
Pressor with Hexo icons is attractive too, but a light theme

There are so many ways to customize the OnePlus One. The above 9 will greatly improve your experience with the phone.

Have fun!

10) Bonus: Bluetooth Trusted Device

Android Central calls this a “must-have for every smartphone going forward.” What is it? It’s the Bluetooth Trusted Device feature in the new Moto X. If you have an Android Wear smartwatch and designate it as trusted, whenever your phone is nearby it requires no unlocking — the Android Wear device you’re wearing thus acts like a pass code.

I recently got a Moto 360 (see my review of it here) so this feature interested me greatly. Bad news: the OnePlus One does not have this exact functionality. Good news: it already has the equivalent!

Here’s how you do it. I’m assuming you’ve followed the third customization above in Profiles. Go back to Settings > Profiles > Home and/or Work and reset all the triggers. Then tap on the geo icon (between NFC and trash can), scroll and you should see your Android Wear watch listed (make sure it’s on and connected to your phone). Tap and tell it to connect on detection. Then go to Settings > Profiles > Default, clear all triggers, and tell it to disconnect on detection.

What you’ve done in a nutshell is this: every time your phone connects with your smartwatch, no unlocking is required. Every time your phone disconnects with your smartwatch, unlocking is required again.

How awesome is that??

Note: it’s necessary to clear all the WiFi triggers, otherwise you’ll get into a situation where unlocking is required when you leave home even though you have your smartwatch on.

Update (August 16, 2014): We have three invites to give away!

Update (August 22, 2014): All settings locations have been updated with version 4.4.4.

Update (October 6, 2014): Added Bluetooth Trusted Device workaround.

Update (December 15, 2014): Added screen shots for smaller icons.

98 thoughts on “Without these 9 changes, your OnePlus One sucks

    1. One awesome feature of the OPO is it’s ability to turn the screen on and of if it’s covered.
      I bought my OPO along with a flip-case, and to my delight, I noticed that the phone turns the screen on when I open the case, and of when I close it! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi do you know.how to off the tapping sound which other person on the call hears when headset is inserted.tat sound really irritates the one on the other side of the call. and its difficult for me also to do multi tasks.pls help me to solve this.

      Like

  1. Hi
    Is there any way to make the screen wake up (when it is on lock mode) when an email / whatsapp message /text message arrives?

    Like

    1. Hi su, I don’t think there is a way to wake up the screen, but a notification light does appear when a new email, whatsapp or text arrives. You can configure the light to be different colors too depending on what kind of notification you get.

      Like

    2. I use an app to do that. SMS WakeUp. It is free and all it does it turn on the screen for 1-10 seconds (you chose how long) when you receive a text.

      Like

    3. go to messages app, go to settings, you will see quick reply section, choose what you want from there, it has the option to wake up the phone.

      Like

  2. Hi, is there a way to change the default apps? I have the oneplus and I’ve been trying to change the default music app from the googlemusic to another application… I use to find that setting easily on my other android

    Like

  3. Thanks. Very helpful. I put Cyanogen on prior phone for comparison. Not sure if OnePlus is the big deal here or Cyanogen coming of age. I think it’s more the Cyanogen software than the OnePlus hardware that succeeds.

    Like

  4. Hi Jeffrey, when I tried to set WhatsAppp as one of the shortcuts in the Quick Launch, it required me to select a Contact. And after doing that, it goes to the particular contact each time I choose the shortcut. In my previous Android I can go to WhatsApp’s Chats page. Any way we can select just to go to the main page of WhatsApp in OPO?

    Like

    1. In the event you haven’t solved it already, you should be able to have your quick launch shortcut go to the main page of WhatsApp by first selecting “Select Application” > “Apps” > “WhatsApp”. What likely happened is that you didn’t select “Apps” as the second step, and instead chose the shortcut for WhatsApp similar to Direct Dial/Message, which is dependent on a specific contact.

      Like

  5. Thanks for the Tips on the One Plus One.Is this still a Great High End Smartphone with Half the Price?? Are there New Updates on it?? Regards,Ben

    Like

  6. Hi,
    The Home profile is set to trigger, to unlock the lock screen upon connecting the wifi.
    But without unlocking the Lock screen in the first place, how are you going to turn on the wifi?

    Like

    1. Hi reminicism, I keep Wi-Fi on all the time. With the OnePlus One’s great battery, there’s no need to turn it on or off.

      Generally, I don’t recommend using those battery saver apps that turn Wi-Fi on or off. They use geo-fencing to do it and that actually takes a lot more battery life!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. hi i’m trying to get a smaller icon in the setting and i can’t find
    Settings > Home > Settings > General and un-tick Larger icons.
    all i can get into is setting and can’t find home in setting … plz help

    Like

    1. Hi Mike, to make icons smaller, go to an empty part of your home screen and long press. You should see a gray panel slide up from the bottom with three icons: wallpapers, widgets and themes. See the up arrow consisting of three dots? Tap that or slide up to reveal a full menu. Scroll down and you should see Larger icons. Tap to switch it to OFF.

      I’ve updated the article with screen shots, see customization #8.

      Like

  8. k i just got the apex and it does indeed make the icon smaller but it kinda sucks since more apps can’t fit into the space it basically uses the same tile space but icon is smaller…
    And how to fix this whitebox on the icon???

    Like

    1. You can set the number of icons in each row and column. Not sure what you mean by whit box. You can change the opacity, kind and color of boxes for icon groups aka folders. You may want to try a few different themes and see what works for you.

      Like

  9. Hi, thanks for a great article.

    In short, these are the following changes to make… (and why I am keeping some of the proposed changes, if you do not mind me sharing with your good audience):

    1) Face unlock – DONE. I did not do this earlier because Face Unlock on other brands honestly cannot make it. But OPO FU seems more finely tuned. Great!

    2) Double tap to wake and swipe to sleep – DONE. Swipe to sleep NOT done because I have Google Now set to the Home button.

    3) Home and work profiles – NOT done for various reasons. eg. I do not want kids poking around my phone when I am not watching! LOL

    4) Turn off V gesture shortcut – NOT done. I think it is cool to show my friends how I can V out my torchlight. hehe

    5) On-screen buttons – NOT done. I enjoy the right side Back button more than it being on the left.

    6) Don’t wake on plug – DONE. It is quite annoying, I agree.

    7) Battery percent – NOT DONE. Reason being that the percentage “pressurises” me to keep plugging in the charger.

    8) Smaller icons – NOT DONE. Prefer the default BIG icons.

    9) Themes – NOT DONE, quite happy with Hexo. However, the themes in the store are nice.

    10) Bonus: Bluetooth Trusted Device – DONE.

    Again, thank you for your suggestions, which I am sure many OPO owners will appreciate experimenting with! THUMBS UP.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Hi Jeff.
    Thanks for your article! I just had a couple questions.
    I’m trying to set the screenshot button to something else other than holding the volume down and power button. Am I able to do that? Or somehow make a gesture (like swipe my hand to the right/left like the Samsung Galaxy S4) to screenshot my phone?
    I just got my phone tonight so I’m trying to figure out how to use it. Also, I cannot get rid of the google search bar at the top after updating.

    I hope you can help me. 🙂
    Thanks!

    Like

    1. If you use onscreen buttons, there absolutely is! Take a look at customization #2, swipe to sleep. You can customize two swipe gestures, and one of those can be to take a screenshot.

      In fact, that’s the setup I have! 🙂 I swipe from home to up-left to close the phone, and swipe from home to up-right to take a screenshot.

      To get rid of the Google Search bar, follow customization #8. One of the settings is to turn it off.

      Haha, OnePlus should pay me for this.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi…I have my OPO mobile and I couldn’t see my already installed whatsapp icon on phone…I tried installing and uninstalling… Please help me in this issue

    Like

  12. I am 56 year old female, not very tech savvy. Wondered if one of you might help me. Received my OnePlus One as a Christmas gift. Notifications will not work. I have wondered through so many forums and blogs my eyes are crossed. I receive a ring for a call and that is it. Could you help please. Thank you,

    Like

    1. Hi Terry, it’s hard to help without more information. What do you mean by notifications don’t work? The sound, and/or the actual message itself? If it’s the sound, here’s what you do: click a volume button on the side of the phone and a little overlay with slider controls will appear on the screen. There is a gear icon to its right. Tap on that. You’ll now see the volume controls for three types of sound with the phone; slide them to the right. Hope this solves your problem!

      Like

  13. Hi
    I applied lock to few of my apps-fb and whatsapp and later removed it, but I can’t view my apps now. Please let me know if there is any way I could unlock it. I’d appreciate any information provided.

    Thanks in advance.
    Hoping to hear back and help me out with this problem.

    Like

  14. Hi Jeffrey,
    I using opo oneplus one till now the experience is great. But from couple of days when I keep the phone in vibration mode. It’s automatically going to ringer mode when I get a call. I’ve even tried by holding the power button and put the phone into vibration mode. The vibration mode only working when I select silent profile from the profile option.
    Any help would be appreciated.

    Like

    1. Sorry Prasanna, not sure how to help you on this one. Tried going to the volume settings? Click on a volume up or down, then on the slider overlay tap on the gear icon on the right, and make sure the ringer is set to zero.

      Like

  15. Hi Jeff,

    How can i make similar type apps in a folder like all games in one folder and so on.
    As soon as I click and hold the icon it goes to the home screen. please help.

    Thanks

    Like

  16. These are useful settings explained. Thanks Jeffrey. Unfortunately I cannot see Interface link under Setting (Gear icon) in my OP phone. It’s android version= 4.4.4 Please help me.

    Like

    1. Hi Dhananjay, as you might have guessed, the Interface link was removed in 4.4.4 and its contents moved elsewhere. In the article above I did also list how-to methods for 4.4.4 — please refer to that.

      Like

      1. Jeffrey ,,,, i need help,,,how i connect PC internet to OPO,,,since i tried with HTC in that i have option called INTERNET PASSTHROUGH, by any chance i can connect in OPO,,,plz do reply,,

        Regards,
        Sharieff

        Like

  17. Jeffrey,

    Thank you for very useful tips. I have OPO and started experiencing Wi Fi connection problem i.e. it will not automatically connect to previously used Wi Fi. at home or work and even outside. I tried to search but looks like there is no definite solution , have you come across this problem and possibly aware of solution you can share?

    Only way out for me is to reboot the phone everytime Wi Fi location is changed.

    Like

  18. Hi Jeffrey..I am using an OPO with the updated version XNPH44S.
    just recently i found my open all apps icon with the few dots missing from my home screen menu.
    I could not find it anywhere to retrieve it back. Now i could not go to calendar / calculator…etc (anything to do with the apps icon side). I might have accidentally deleted it off.
    Appreciate some positive input.

    Like

    1. I have same experience.. Actually i dont know how to take it back..but you can go to setting-apps-all-trebuchet and click clear data… It gonna restart into default hope this can help the other…

      Like

  19. Hi Jeffrey – I recently unbox my OPO and it’s a great phone I must say, but I feel a little disappointed about the blacks… I know its a IPS display, not an Amoled but in the pics used in your article, the colors are vibrant and the blacks deep – any input about that? (I must say that 2 or 3 times, the display show oversaturated colors, like a screen when your put the Tint setting tops)

    Like

    1. Hi Tony, perhaps this is something you’re used to with AMOLED? The OPO’s on-screen colors have always felt OK to me. There are a few options in Settings > Display & lights that you may want to experiment with, such as “Color enhancement.”

      Like

      1. Jeffrey, you right about the SAMOLED I was used to see in the Note 3, maybe that’s the principal issue because it’s the only type of display which I worked until now… I try with your recomendation about “Color enhancement” but when I check the box, in 1 or 2 minutes, the colors looks like oversaturated and certainly I don’t know if it’s a software issue (I hope) or some trouble with my OPO (in this last case, I don’t have any idea on how to request service)… have you even heard or see any OPO with that problem?

        Thanks in advance for your time.

        Like

  20. Who doesn’t want to see the battery percentage? If you change ‘battery status type’ to ‘text’ instead of selecting ‘show percent’, you get the percentage displayed slightly larger as it’s not inside the little circle.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I activated Music gesture, however it only works with two finger vertically to play/pause, it doesn’t work with drawing left or right arrow to go to next or previous track, why?

    Like

  22. Hi, great write up with small but very important points brought to notice. I would love it if anyone could guide me about if there is any way to Increase the capacitive button illumination? They’re too dim for me! Anyway I can increase make them brighter?

    Liked by 1 person

  23. A few notable (for me) things from the article:
    1) Face unlock is a cool feature, but I’m not using it because the unlock option is administratively disabled in the Profile settings. We use Exchange, and the admins require a PIN to unlock. I can go with Face unlock if I wish, but it’s an all-or-nothing affair. I have to use Face Unlock all the time, or PIN all the time – I can’t select Face Unlock at work, and PIN unlock at home, for instance. The ability to switch in the profile setup is disabled 😦 So I’m sticking with Pin.
    2) Personally, I like having the screen wake when I plug it in. This way I *know* it’s plugged in and charging. If it doesn’t wake, I know something is wrong – the charger isn’t plugged into the output properly, I didn’t plug the cable into the phone all the way, etc. Turning this option off eliminates that feedback. Yes, the notification light comes on, but I find the screen wake convenient.
    3) I used to like to see my battery percentage, but I found myself obsessing over it. Each time it went down one percentage point I was wondering if there was a problem with the battery. Now I leave it off and I don’t fret over it. If I want to know the percentage I’ll just open up the notification drawer.

    Like

  24. Hi,
    I received my opo today n while taking pic’s through camera flash is not working though it works in video mode.

    I tried setting flash to ON still no flash.Help me on this

    Like

  25. Hi Jeff, I have noticed that I cannot change my whatsapp image it says no apps to open this . could you please help me with this.

    Like

  26. Forgive my lack of tech savvy-ness.
    I have a SMS question that’s driving me crazy.
    For some reason, the “GROUP MESSAGING” option in “settings” (while in stock SMS app) doesn’t exist on one of my opo phones!?!
    I have a 16g and a 64g on T-Mobile.
    Bought together, setup at the same time with new and different Google accounts.
    I can post a screenshot if someone tells me how to add it to this msg. Any insight appreciated.

    Like

  27. I have no notification lights? Somebody suggest that turn off Quiet Hours. I turned it off but still not working….? can anyone help?

    Like

  28. As iam unable to set mail notification in this device bcoz of which iam loosing many of my mails unread so plz do the needful and give me settings to set up the notifications on my set

    Like

  29. how to setup mail notification sound on oneplus A0001 model device as its not set wen ever iam getting mail no sound due to which iam loosing many mails of my work anyone help with this issue …….

    Like

  30. Thanks for the great tips. Please help me with the following problem on oneplus –

    – I am not able to lock the status bar (one that displays time, battery life, signal strength on home screen). Every time I open home screen I have to swipe upside down to make it appear. After few seconds it goes up automatically.

    How can I lock it so that I don’t have to swipe it down at all.

    Thanks in advance.

    Like

  31. Hi, I am facing a strange issue. When i dial anyone from my contacts, four zeroes get prefixed to the number and it does not dial. I have to redo and then it dials. Also, when i check whatsapp or someother app and press the back button, it goes to the Facebook app every time. Can you help me? Thanks

    Like

  32. Great tips, thank you. I cannot find a contacts app on my phone. Just received it yesterday. Can you help me out? The contacts are there but I cant find an app to view all the info.

    Like

    1. Long press anywhere on the blank section of the home page, it gives you a pop up with 3 options to choose from wallpapers, widgets & themes. Click on widgets & scroll to alphabet T and you will find the torch widget.

      Like

    1. Long press anywhere on the blank section of the home page, it gives you a pop up with 3 options to choose from wallpapers, widgets & themes. Click on widgets & you will see a list of all widgets appear and you can choose the ones you like.

      Like

  33. I need to change my default video player application from Google player to MX PLAYER but I can not.
    I lmhave already go to application section, but there is NO DEFULT SET written,
    Please give me right way
    Also I can not connected my Bluetooth to OPO mobile
    Please give me feedback

    Like

  34. hi all..great thing I read here…one question I have and maybe one of you knows how to delete my deleted e-mails? I have a box with deleted items 999+, but have no delete option…someone told me to do it on the computer, but which folder contains the mail?

    Like

  35. Hi, I tried the face unlock. In the beginning it recognized me then 3 times in a row it didn’t recognize my face and it got locked and I didn’t see any option to unlock it with the PIN I used as backup. Has this happened to anyone? And how can I unlock the OnePlus One?

    Like

  36. Hello I am facing 2 problems..
    1st is I an having plantronics voyager legend headset when I connect to my opo it connects but calls do not connects via headset…
    2nd is 5days back my opo was showing update for lolipop but from d next till now it is now showing

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s