Oneplus Zen Mode

Back when the OnePlus 7 Series was introduced, OnePlus debuted a new feature called Zen Mode. It is essentially an addition to the already excellent OxygenOS which enhances the software even more. Zen Mode is a “digital well-being” feature which is designed to help you use your phone less.

OnePlus does this by locking you out of your phone for a set amount of time – 20 minutes. During this time, you are supposed to put down your phone and focus on the real world instead.

On July 31, 2019, OnePlus published a post on its community forum titled “Let’s talk Zen Mode – A challenge in mindfulness”. This post details out what this feature is, why it exists, why 20 minutes, and so on.

In the blog post, OnePlus details out that “Zen Mode is about taking time for yourself. It limits the functions of your phone for 20 minutes to making emergency calls, receiving all calls, and using the camera.” OnePlus also stated that Zen Mode is an extension towards its ‘Never Settle’ philosophy. “Our mission is to constantly improve your experience, across hardware and software – making them work seamlessly for you. We’re always making changes, big and small, to both hardware and software, with the ultimate aim of delivering a seamless experience.”

How does it work?

Once you turn on the feature, your phone goes into a lockdown state for 20 minutes. During this time, you can’t open any other applications, send text messages, change settings or basically use any other smartphone feature.

The two things you can do with your phone are take photos and make and receive phone calls. However, these things also come with a catch. Once you snap a photo, you can’t view your entire gallery. And while you can take calls from anyone, you can only make calls to emergency numbers.

Zen Mode rules

Something to note: Once you enable Zen Mode, there’s no way to turn it off. It won’t disable even if you restart your phone. The default time is 20 minutes and you will have to wait a full 20 minutes before your phone becomes a smartphone again.

Why Zen Mode?

OnePlus answered why it created the Zen Mode.

“Our research showed that sometimes people don’t feel like they can switch off from their digital life. Social media apps especially, demand too much attention with constant notifications and updates. Messaging apps can be similarly distracting.”

“These observations gave us a solid starting point. We had an idea about what kind of distractions people face – a key insight being that it’s two-way.”

How to use Zen Mode?

The feature was introduced with the OnePlus 7 Series but has found its way to older devices like the OnePlus 6T, 6, 5T and 5. It is also a OnePlus exclusive feature; however other manufacturers may have something similar with a different name.

Using Zen Mode is fairly easy.

  1. Pull down the notification shade and the quick settings panel.
  2. Click on the Zen Mode quick setting. There is no standalone app for this and you can only enable it from the quick settings.
  3. Once you’re in the app, you will see instructions about how to go about the entire procedure.
  4. Hit the Start button. You will get a 3-second countdown and you can still change your mind.
  5. Once Zen Mode begins, you will see a timer on the screen telling you how many minutes and seconds are left.
  6. Once the timer exhausts, you will get a “Good job” notification.
Notification after completing Zen Mode

“Zen Mode is only the start of our latest work with mindfulness,” said OnePlus. The company is working on improving the feature on their devices.

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