Yesterday I set up my OP3 and played around with its default launcher for a bit. Being an avid fan of Nova Launcher I’m quite used to ignoring the bundled alternatives on Android custom ROMs—Trebuchet, Launcher3 and the like—but since the only way you can currently use the OnePlus Launcher is with an actual OnePlus phone, I thought I should at least show you what it’s all about.
The OnePlus Launcher offers the user 16 unique backgrounds, plus some rather uninspired “live” wallpapers that date all the way back to the Galaxy Nexus. You can see some of the more artsy options on their designer’s website.
I myself didn’t particularly care for any of the defaults, so I went instead with the live wallpaper included with the FlightTrack app. And here’s where I ran into my first issue with the OnePlus Launcher: You can absolutely use a live wallpaper on your home screen, but not on your lock screen or shelf.
What’s the shelf? It’s what you get when you swipe one screen to the left of home. It reminds me of the old Aviate Launcher, before Yahoo bought (and eventually wrecked) it.
I had some issues with the shelf, too. Those frequently-used apps under the memo field cannot be customized; only the launcher gets to decide what goes there. And while the shelf is scrollable—that is, you can also your own add widgets to it—those widgets must fit into predefined fields. So a well-organized shelf can quickly turn into an unattractive mess.
Fortunately you don’t have to use the shelf if you don’t want to; the option to turn it off is available in the first panel of customization options for the launcher. Just long-press on the home screen to get there.
Here’s a feature you’ll never see in the Google Now Launcher, the option to turn that persistent search bar off. But herein lies another problem: If you turn the search bar off you still can’t reclaim the empty space now available on your screen with another widget. That’s kind of annoying.
You can at least have some semblance of control over the size of app icons on your home screen…
… Just be aware that your choice has no bearing whatsoever on the size of icons in your app drawer. You have some say in the density of icons, but the icons themselves remain comically large.
So yeah, the OnePlus Launcher wasn’t really my cup of tea. Fortunately, installing a new launcher is by far the easiest way to customize an Android device. I could have restored my backup of Nova Launcher and called it a day, but instead went in a different direction—I’m currently trying out Nokia’s Z Launcher, which turns my OnePlus 3 into a lean, mean, gesture machine.