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How to use Zen Mode on OnePlus smartphones to re-join the real world

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As we motor forwards towards a new decade, smartphone addiction is a hot topic. Google has its Digital Wellbeing tools, but other manufacturers are implementing features to help people use their smartphones less. Here's how to use OnePlus' Zen Mode to put your phone down for longer.

Smartphone apps and social media platforms are designed for one thing: to keep us coming back for more. But our always-online, connected lifestyles, escaping the digital world and spending time in the real one is not as easy as it seems. Fortunately, OnePlus has created a feature to help its users leave their smartphones unattended for a defined period of time, allow users to spend time in the real world away from digital distractions.

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What is OnePlus Zen Mode?

OnePlus Zen Mode is essentially a Do Not Disturb mode but on speed. It puts your smartphone into a kind of coma, reducing the functionality to a bare minimum in an attempt to reduce the temptation to pick it up and start scrolling.

Once in Zen Mode, your OnePlus can no longer send text messages, open apps, browse the internet of social media or even access basic menus such as Settings. You can still receive phone calls and take photos, but you can't view the photos in the Gallery app or start tweaking editing parameters in Google Photos. The only number you can call in Zen Mode is the emergency services in your region.

Perhaps the scariest feature of Zen Mode is that it is unbreakable. Once you have chosen to enter it, you can't go back on that decision. Even if you reboot your phone you will still be in Zen Mode. Once you have opted to spend a specified time (20, 30, 40 or 60 minutes) in Zen Mode, there's nothing you can do but wait for it to be over.

This is actually what makes Zen Mode one of the most successful tools for reducing smartphone addiction. If it was easily switched off, the temptation would get the better of too many people. I like the fact that Zen Mode is strict on this point. You've committed to a period of time away from your phone, so honor that commitment!

Does my device support Zen Mode?

Zen Mode was launched in 2019 alongside the OnePlus 7 Pro. However, the Chinese company has rolled out the feature to its older smartphones too. From the OnePlus 5 onwards, Zen Mode is available on all subsequent OnePlus devices. That includes last year's OnePlus 6 and 6T as well as the latest OnePlus 7T and 7T Pro. It is likely that any future OnePlus releases will also come with Zen Mode baked into the company's software.

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Zen Mode is available on devices from the OnePlus 5 onwards / © NextPit

How to use Zen Mode

ZenMode is installed as a default app on OnePlus smartphones. However, it does not appear in the app drawer. The quickest way to access Zen Mode is to pull down on the notification tab to access Android's Quick Tiles menu. If you don't see Zen Mode there straight away, you will have to tap the pencil icon to customize which options you have in Quick Tiles. Drag the Zen Mode tile into your Quick Tiles and you are ready to go. From there, follow these simple steps:

  1. Once in Zen Mode, tap on the green arrow towards the bottom of the display choose between 20, 30, 40 and 60 minutes. This will be the duration of your downtime. Remember, once you activate Zen Mode, you cannot go back on it.
  2. Tap Let's Go at the bottom of the screen to begin
  3. You'll see a timer on the display letting you know how long is left on your session
  4. Once the time is up, you'll get a notification telling you what a good job you've done!
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You can start off with 20 mins and build up to longer periods / © NextPit

There are also events in Zen Mode. At the time of writing, OnePlus is promoting a 21-day Zen Transformation campaign. According to the app, psychologists believe that it takes 21 days to develop and consolidate any habit. The 21-day Zen transformation campaign is designed to help OnePlus users develop the healthy habit of putting down their smartphones for a certain amount of time each day.

Several rules for the challenge are listed in the app. You'll have to successfully complete 21 Zen Mode sessions on consecutive days to pass the challenge. The campaign will run until the end of 2019, so you have just over two months to complete your 21 consecutive days. There are also regular achievements and badges to earn for completely conductive Zen Moe days.

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There are also special OnePlus challenges to take part in / © NextPit

Have you tried OnePlus' Zen Mode yet? How successful were you? Let us know in the comments section below.

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David McCourt

David McCourt

David enjoys staying abreast of the latest technology and newest Android apps. Outside of the office, he can be found playing snooker and writing bad 00s indie songs.

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