New OnePlus Zen Mode Challenges You Toward Healthier Phone Habits


OnePlus is expanding on its Zen Mode with gamification challenges meant to encourage users to step away from their smartphones. To get started, users need to navigate to the challenge within the Zen mode app and set a timeframe. Then, they just need to activate Zen Mode before going to bed, within or before that timeframe.

The challenges are reportedly geared toward helping users set down their phones for a set period of time in order to develop a habit of not using their phones around bedtime. That centers around getting users to set a time to put their device down. Users set up the timeframe, giving themselves a two-hour window, and are challenged to leave the device alone until the next day.

There are several levels and achievements to obtain. The first goal is at 7-days. Users who double that and go 14-days while meeting the goal obtain another achievement award. Finally, another week is added, maxing out the achievement at 21-days.


OnePlus stacked in hidden, extra achievements as well. For instance, the company added one for setting the phone aside ahead of schedule. There may be further awards to gain too.

Of course, setting the phone down within the allotted window and then picking it up again will reset the challenge. The same is true if the user misses a day or simply quits. If that happens, the challenge will have to be restarted.

Following fitness wearable trends & Google toward digital wellbeing

There aren't any real-world rewards for completing the challenges laid out in OnePlus's app. Instead, the company is depending on serving up a sense of accomplishment. But that's already been shown as an effective way to reach users and encourage a given behavior.


The most recent example of that and the one likely followed by OnePlus here is Google's Digital Wellbeing feature. As the brand implies, OnePlus designed the tool to help users manage their digital life with healthier habits.

Prior to that, connected wearables have already accomplished similar goals through almost identical methods that OnePlus is using. That chiefly encompassed rewards given to users for participating in certain activities. Other rewards would be provided for engaging in activities for a set timeframe or for meeting goals.

The method has been used for everything from teaching the principals of programming and coding to helping people eat better. So there are countless examples of how it works in the real world.


But the premise is relatively straightforward. By putting control in the hands of users and then offering up gamelike accomplishment rewards, OnePlus is giving users something to show for their efforts. As a result, users are more likely to try out the feature and to stick to it once they start.

The OnePlus variation utilizes an approach most similar to that used by wearables. It provides a minimal goal and challenges users to meet that goal over increasing periods of time. The difference is that OnePlus wants to help users stop developing or reverse unhealthy habits in terms of smartphone use.

Zen mode challenges will be available (soon) from OnePlus 5

OnePlus 7 series devices are already seeing the new Zen Mode challenges arriving via an update to app version 1.4.o. But the company hasn't provided any details regarding when the features will arrive on older handsets. Because the app is compatible with devices all the way to OnePlus 5, it should appear there sooner than later.


The newest OnePlus device, OnePlus 7T, may actually be among the last to receive the new feature, depending on how quickly that rolls out. The device will almost certainly have it out-of-the-box but was announced just a few days ago.