Google is working toward a late 2019 release for Android Q, the next version of the dominant mobile platform. The Android beta program lets you test drive the new OS as it’s being completed, and there’s a new way to do that today. The newly launched OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro have joined the beta program, but keep in mind — this is unfinished software.
The OnePlus 7 Pro is one of the best phones available right now with a Snapdragon 855, up to 12GB of RAM, and a glorious 90Hz OLED display. The OnePlus 7 has many of the same features but with a smaller, 60Hz display. OnePlus’ stock software (called Oxygen OS) isn’t bad, either. It doesn’t have as much bloatware as most phones, and it’s speedy. However, it’s not the bleeding edge, and Android Q is available. Naturally, some people will gladly flash their brand new phones with the unfinished software.
Getting the Android Q beta on the OnePlus 7 isn’t as easy as it is with the Pixel phones, but it’s not as perilous as flashing a custom ROM. OnePlus has provided the Q beta as a flashable OTA update package. So, you won’t need an unlocked bootloader or even a computer running ADB.
First, grab the update from OnePlus and save it to your phone’s internal storage. OnePlus has a built-in system to load OTA updates from the phone storage, so you can head into the System Updates menu and choose “Local upgrade” from the drop-down menu. The installation will only take a few minutes, but all data on the phone will be erased — make sure you back up. Android Q delivers features like a dark UI mode, more privacy controls, and modular system updates.
According to OnePlus, there are some potentially deal-breaking bugs. Ambient display is broken, you can’t send SMS while connected to VoLTE, navigation gestures don’t work, and more. If the bugs get to be too much, there’s a relatively painless way to get back on the stock software. OnePlus has a second OTA file for both OP7 variants that will get you back to the stable version. It’s the same deal: Download the file and use the local upgrade option.
For developers who want to troubleshoot issues on the OnePlus 7 Pro, there’s also kernel source available on GitHub. This is the open source part of the OS, not a full system image. Kernel source for the OnePlus 7 is expected soon as well.