Which One­Plus One Lol­lipop Upgrade to Choose: OxygenOS, Cyanogen OS 12S or Cyanogen­Mod 12.1

If you own a OnePlus One, you’re most likely trying to figure out what to do about the Lollipop update. In an attempt to Never Settle, OnePlus One is providing you with basically 3 options. And from a distance, they all look equally appealing – or equally confusing.

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Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll have a better idea about which upgrade to choose.

Flashing guide: Instructions for flashing Cyanogen OS 12S, OxygenOS, and CM 12.1 are available here.

Cyanogen OS 12S Upgrade

Yes, yes, OxygenOS – we’ll get to it in a while. But first let’s talk about Cyanogen OS 12S. It’s based on Lollipop 5.0 and it’s stupidly easy to install. OTA updates are rolling out in batches and one should reach you at any time now. This is what most people should do.


Cyanogen OS 12S is very similar to OxygenOS. In fact, it comes with the awesomeness of CM, like the Theme Engine, privacy guard and more that the first version of OxygenOS lacks.

And Oxygen OS is not easy to install – as you’ll find out in the next section.

OxygenOS from OnePlus

Yes, OxygenOS is blessed by the OnePlus overlords. But its only problem is that it’s not blessed by the CM overlords. You see, the soul of OxygenOS conflicts with the CM 11S running on your phone. It can’t run on the CM recovery that comes pre-installed on OPO.

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So to install OxygenOS you need to – and I’m not kidding – download Android SDK, unlock the bootloader (which wipes everything from your phone), override CM recovery with TWRP, and then flash a 750 MB OxygenOS zip. That’s only 1 step less than our comprehensive rooting guide for OnePlus One. You can’t make this stuff up.

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The problem with OxygenOS is that it doesn’t have a compelling reason to exist. It only exists because Cyanogen decided to play the game of chicken with OPO. OnePlus felt like it needed its own Android ROM, so it hired some developers and designers from ParanoidAndroid team and hurriedly came up with OxygenOS.

Someday, OxygenOS will be worthy enough to install on OnePlus One. Today is not that day.

CyanogenMod 12.1

CyanogenMod is the original Custom ROM from Cyanogen Inc. It’s different from Cyanogen OS – which is the commercial version of CM.

It requires you to be rooted. If you’re a geek (and as you own a OnePlus One, chances are very high that you are), you’re probably already rooted or have thought about it. Either way, you should take the plunge and just install CyanogenMod 12.1. Let me tell you why.

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The steps for installing OxygenOS and CM 12.1 are pretty much the same. You’re already installing a custom recovery, so at the end all you need to do is flash a SuperSU file and then flash the CM 12.1 ROM file instead of OxygenOS.

And taking that extra step is worth it because you get so much more.

You see, CyanogenMod 12.1 is based on Android 5.1. OxygenOS is still on 5.0. Plus, being on the latest and greatest from CM has its advantages. You get access to awesome features like Live Display that intelligently dims the screen so you don’t hurt your eyes, Privacy Guard, and a lot more. None of that’s available in OxygenOS. And some of that isn’t available in the CM 12S update either.

I’ve been testing CM 12.1 for around a week now and I haven’t encountered any bugs. In fact, I think it’s more stable than CM 11S. It surely gives me better battery life.


So here’s the gist. If you don’t want to go through the process of unlocking the bootloader and manually flashing OxygenOS, just wait for the CM 12S upgrade. Or just flash the update manually. Because if you’re just flashing the update, it’s really easy. You won’t be losing any of your data in the process.

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If you’ve decided you’re okay with wiping your phone and are comfortable with flashing a ROM through a custom recovery, make it CyanogenMod 12.1 and not OxygenOS.

Doing all that work and then just getting OxygenOS is not worth it. The only reason flashing OxygenOS would make sense is if CM suddenly said it would give no updates to the phone – no OTA updates for Cyanogen OS version and no custom ROMs. That’s not the case and it’s not going to be in the near future.

So that’s settled then. It’s either Cyanogen OS 12S OTA / manual upgrade or flashing CM 12.1. By now you should know which one is for you. Drop us a line regarding what you finally decided.

Last updated on 03 February, 2022

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