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How to build a WordPress website for a business or side hustle

Website Design How to Build a WordPress Website

No matter what kind of business or side hustle you have, having a website helps you reach more people, build trust, and drive sales. For entrepreneurs working in the gig economy, a website is practically a requirement. WordPress presents a free, extremely powerful, and highly versatile tool that anyone can use to build websites easily. And yes, it’s better than Squarespace. In this post, you will learn how to build a WordPress website, and optimize it with a great design and perfect plugins.

Why WordPress?

Learning how to build a WordPress website is the fastest and most efficient way to create an online presence. That’s because WordPress is a proven quantity. Build a website yourself from scratch, and there’s a chance that suboptimal code could prevent it from ranking on Google. Or maybe it just looks awkward on certain displays? Or loads slowly.

Maybe you just don’t have a knack for design, and your site has the feel of something built in the Geocities era!

The good news is that WordPress powers over 25% of the websites on the internet. These include some of the biggest and most profitable in the world. Brands that use WordPress include Sony, the BBC, The Times, Mashable, TechCrunch, Disney, Microsoft….

Build a WordPress website

Heck, even this website was built using WordPress!

If companies like Microsoft think it’s worth learning how to build a WordPress website, that should tell you this is a smart choice. By choosing WordPress, you know your site will then at least have the potential to become as successful and those brands. Which would probably do for most of us!

Those big companies rely on WordPress because it is powerful and easy to use. Installation is extremely simple too: out-of-the-box, it provides a responsive layout, and a completely customizable front-end and back-end.

Even this website was built using WordPress!

The “back-end” is the part of the website that only you and your business partners will see: the admin panel, stats, and other elements you use to update your pages, add new posts, etc. WordPress includes this for you, meaning that once it’s installed, you won’t need to know a line of code in order to maintain and update it.

website develpoment

WordPress also enjoys a huge amount of support from a thriving community. You can easily download ready-made themes, or plugins that can add a range of functionality such as ecommerce stores, mailing lists, comments sections and much more. Much of this is free.

Yes, it’s better than Squarespace.

Hundreds of features, plugins, and apps that website owners rely on daily are built for WordPress. If you don’t learn how to build a WordPress website, you won’t be able to integrate with those services.

Pretty much every web developer is familiar with WordPress, too. That means you can hire someone to easily create a unique theme from scratch, or even to fundamentally alter the underlying source code – possible because WordPress is also open source.

Build WordPress Website

In short, once you know how to build a WordPress website, you’ll know how to create websites in minutes. From there, you’ll be able to easily customize those sites using powerful features, and enjoy countless luxuries and conveniences. Using any other platform makes life more complicated unnecessarily.

WordPress vs Squarespace vs Wix

WordPress is a free tool that lets anyone quickly build a modern and professional website without knowing much code. That might sound an awful lot like Squarespace or Wix; so why not use those tools instead?

Let’s put it this way: BBC America didn’t choose to build its website with either of those sites!

Gadgets Laptop Headphones Work Online

The simple reason for this is that while WordPress is open-source and self-hosted, Wix and Squarespace are hosted solutions. This means that WordPress comes as a bunch of files that you install onto a server of your choosing. You then own that code and those files, and you can do whatever you like with them: including moving them to another domain should you wish. There’s also no charge associated with WordPress.

Conversely, when you use Wix or Squarespace, those companies will provide the server space for you, and you’ll be forced to rent it from them. The code will likewise be managed by them, and you’ll need to keep paying if you want to keep using their services. In short, they own your website.

And while Wix and Squarespace are both very customizable and powerful, neither comes close to the versatility or huge amount of support that WordPress enjoys. This is why I highly recommend that any entrepreneur or small business owner learns how to build a WordPress website; and not take the “shortcut.”

WordPress is open-source and self-hosted.

That said, if all you need is a simple portfolio for your work, and you don’t plan on scaling your business or taking it in new directions in future, Wix or Squarespace might be fit for your purposes. But you’d be surprised at how easy it is to build a WordPress website. So why not go that route just to be safe?

Getting started: Finding hosting

So you want to know how to build a WordPress website? Then much like Venom, your first step is to find a host (random Spider-Man reference).

Laptop Work Online

A host is a company that provides space to store your website files. This might be a dedicated server (meaning you have all the space on a computer connected to the internet), or it might be shared hosting. Shared hosting gives you a smaller amount of space on a machine shared with other users. Cloud hosting keeps your files on multiple different servers simultaneously. Of course, more space is more expensive, but most businesses don’t need a lot of space. There are other factors to consider too, such as bandwidth, but again, most businesses starting out will only need a basic package. You can always upgrade later. Good providers to consider include HostGator and GoDaddy.

Hosting a website with one of these companies will only cost you a small amount each month, but the unfortunate catch is that most require you to sign up for several months in advance. You’ll need to make a small deposit of $100-$200 then, but won’t need to pay again for a long time.

Google Stadia servers

Most packages will also include a free domain name. This is the address that people will search to find your website. Advice on the best domain for your business is beyond the scope of this post, but suffice to say you should think long and hard about how you want to brand yourself. Fortunately, you can always add more domain names and point them at your website in future.

Your domain name is the address that people will search to find your website.

Once you have paid for your hosting, you’ll be given a login. You can use this to access a control panel, which gives you access to your files, settings, email (you can create your own email address using your new domain name!) and more.

Next: how to build a WordPress website!

How to build a WordPress website in minutes!

Visit the hosting provider you chose and enter your login details. You should find that with most modern hosts, you’ll have the option to install WordPress with a single click. This really is as easy as it sounds!

One word of caution though: before you click Accept and go ahead with your installation, you should check the settings and define the password you want to use for WordPress. Otherwise, one will be generated for you and it can be extremely difficult to find what this is!

Wordpress Develpoment

If your hosting account doesn’t come with one-click installation for WordPress, then you will have to do it manually – but this is still extremely simple. Just head over to, and there you will be able to download the latest version of WordPress as a zip file. Unzip these files, then upload them to your server in the root domain (assuming this is where you want people to find yourself website).

To do that, you’ll need to find the file manager in your hosting account. Again, this is normally visible on the main page and will let you browse the files stored on your server just as you would on your own computer.

Installing WordPress manually is still extremely simple.

There should be a button that lets you upload files, so just click that and then choose the folder you want.

Now open a new tab and navigate to your website: This will automatically execute the installation script, and you’ll be taken through the final steps.

Note: You may need to create a WordPress database, which adds an extra step. This is relatively easy using a tool like phpMyAdmin or Plesk and you can find full details here. Most hosts will provide a ready-made database for you though, so this shouldn’t be necessary.

Work Online Development Writing Coding Lifestyle Design

Once the installation is complete, point your browser at your URL again and you should see a very basic, albeit empty website! This default theme is rather bland, but it is modern, responsive (meaning it scales to the size of the display), and clean.

And that is how to build a WordPress website in minutes.

Customization basics

Once you have your basic WordPress website, it’s up to you to begin customizing it to your heart’s content. To do this, log into WordPress either through your hosting account, or by navigating to

This is your admin panel, and in here, you will be able to add new content and change the look and feel of your website.

WordPress Edit Theme 1

The first thing you’ll need to do, is to go to Settings > General and choose a Site Title, a tagline, and other basic settings.

If you want to change elements of the appearance such as your logo, header, wallpaper, colors, fonts etc., you will need to navigate to Appearance > Customize. This opens a customizer where you can see your site design on the right, and change basic settings on the left.

You’ll be taken to a store where you can find a huge number of themes to suit every niche.

I don’t recommend doing this yet though. Rather, you should head to Appearance > Themes and then Add New. You’ll be taken to a store where you can find a huge number of themes to suit every niche and brand. Many of these are completely free, and you can apply them as easily as clicking Install then Activate. You can also download themes from other websites, such as Theme Forest, and then upload the zip files to install them that way. This way, you can find a larger selection of professionally designed themes. Once you know how to install WordPress and apply a custom theme, you will essentially know how to build a WordPress website!

Plugins and widgets

Continuing our tour of the admin panel for a moment, you should also check out the Appearance > Widgets page. This will show you the widgets you currently have live on your pages, posts, and homepage. Widgets are small elements that live in the sidebar or at the bottom of your site, and can include all kinds of mini apps or useful HTML elements.

WordPress Website Design

Typical uses of widgets include showing social media feeds, displaying latest posts, and promoting products. Make sure to set these up how you want them, and to remove any that you don’t have use for.

In Plugins > Add New, you’ll be able to search through the wide variety of plugins available for WordPress. This is also essential if you want to know how to build a WordPress website.

WooCommerce adds an entire ecommerce store to your site.

Plugins meanwhile are essentially apps that work by editing the PHP code comprising WordPress. This can then provide you with new features for users to enjoy, upgraded performance and security, additional widgets, changes to the admin panel, or entirely new functionality for your website.

Also read: Top freelancing sites for finding paid work online

WooCommerce for example, is a plugin that will add an entire ecommerce store to your site, allowing you to sell physical and digital products. This then has its own additional plugins you can use to add support for preorders and more!

To add new plugins, you simply need to click Install > Activate. You’ll then need to find where in the admin panel the settings for that particular feature have been placed. Make sure to read reviews of plugins before installing them though, and don’t install too many: they can slow down your site!

Working Online Web Design

Adding content

Once you know how to build a WordPress website, all that is left to do is to update it with blog posts and pages. You can add new posts by going to Posts > Add New. Here, you’ll find an editor called “Gutenberg,” which makes it easy to create attractive posts using “blocks.”

Also read: How to find online writing jobs as a copywriter

Write your title where it says “Add title,” and then add new text in the space below. You can then hover your mouse at the bottom of that paragraph and click the “+” sign in order to add additional blocks. These can be new text paragraphs, images, quotes, and more. If you simply paste an article you wrote in a Word document, then the headers and paragraphs will be converted into blocks automatically.

The process for adding new pages is just as easy and uses the same Gutenberg editor. Just head to Pages > Add New. You can choose which pages are visible to viewers by going to Appearance > Menus. Your site will show your latest blog posts on the homepage by default, but you can change this to display a static page in your settings.

Typing Writing Coding Keyboard

And with that, you know all you need to get started with your website. As you can see, it is a much simpler process than most people think, and the end result is professional, powerful, scalable, and modern.

Now you know how to build a WordPress website, it’s time to put yourself out there and promote your personal brand!

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Samsung Galaxy S10+ vs. iPhone 11 Pro: Which should you buy?

Android standard

Galaxy S10+

Going ‘pro’

iPhone 11 Pro

If any Android phone has the ability to pull a large number of iPhone users away from Apple, it’s the Galaxy S10+. It has exceptional hardware, an amazing display, and piles of features that cover what Apple can do and so much more. The software is more daunting, but ultimately more capable as well. Those teetering on the fence could lean toward Samsung after using this phone.

$1000 at Amazon


  • Larger, industry-leading display
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Excellent battery life
  • Headphone jack and SD card slot


  • Duplicate apps and bloatware
  • Low-light camera quality can’t keep up

Apple’s phones are keeping pace with the top-end Android phones today. Whether that means this is actually a “Pro” device doesn’t really matter — the 11 Pro does just about everything the Android competition does, and has the huge draw of still offering access to Apple’s software, apps and services ecosystem.

$1000 at Apple


  • Triple camera has promise
  • Exceptional face unlock
  • Simpler software experience
  • Access to Apple’s ecosystem of apps and services


  • Limited software customization
  • No headphone jack

Though the number of people actively looking at switching between iPhone and Android isn’t as big as the ones sticking in their lane, there’s no better comparison to make in this arena than the latest offerings from Apple and Samsung.

What’s the difference between the Galaxy S10+ and iPhone 11 Pro?

Putting aside all of the general Android versus iPhone comparisons to start, let’s focus on the hardware differences. Samsung goes with a bigger display, 6.4 to 5.8 inches, and slims down the bezels in an attempt to make it manageable in one hand. Even with larger bezels, the iPhone 11 Pro is still smaller in height and width (though not weight), making it much easier to grasp in one hand — though if you see size as a benefit, you also have the option of getting the smaller Galaxy S10 instead.

The difference in usable display size will have more of an effect than the overall size.

For many people, the difference in usable display size will have more of an effect than the physical size in your hand, but that comes down to personal preference. Thankfully both phones have amazing OLED displays, with excellent colors, viewing angles and brightness. Samsung and Apple are neck-and-neck in smartphone display quality, with everyone else trailing well behind.

Elsewhere in the hardware, it’s hard to find a fault in either of these phones. Samsung relies far more on glass and focuses on curves, whereas the iPhone 11 Pro is more substantial with a larger metal frame. Both have their good and bad angles (mostly the camera situations around the back), but both feel great and are worthy of the money.

Galaxy S10+ iPhone 11 Pro
Operating system Android 9 Pie
One UI 1.1
iOS 13
Display 6.4-inch AMOLED
3040×1440 (19:9)
5.8-inch OLED
2436×1125 (19.5:9)
Processor Snapdragon 855
or Samsung Exynos 9820
A13 Bionic
Storage 128/512GB/1TB 64/256/512GB
Expandable microSD No
RAM 8/12GB 6GB
Rear camera 1 12MP, OIS, f/1.5 or f/2.4 12MP, OIS, f/1.8
Rear camera 2 12MP, OIS, f/2.4 12MP, OIS, f/2.0
Rear camera 3 16MP, f/2.2 12MP, f/2.4
Front camera 1 10MP, f/1.9, af 12MP, f/2.2, af
Front camera 2 8MP, f/2.2, af n/a
Audio Stereo speakers
Dolby Atmos
3.5mm headphone jack
Stereo speakers
Spatial audio
Battery 4100 mAh 3190 mAh
Charging 15W wired
Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 (12W)
18W wired
Qi wireless
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Security Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor
Face recognition
Face ID
Dimensions 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.4 mm
175 g (Ceramic: 198 g)
144 x 71.4 x 8.1 mm
188 g

As is so often the case with iPhones, the specs don’t really tell the whole story. Sure the iPhone 11 Pro has less RAM and a smaller battery than the S10+, but that won’t create any big gulf in either performance or battery life. Both phones are incredibly overpowered for what most people will be doing with them, and battery life is going to be strong in either case. Elsewhere you’ll see that both phones have stereo speakers, fast wired charging and wireless charging (though Samsung’s faster in the latter), and water resistance.

Samsung wins the spec battle, but that isn’t as useful as also winning the hardware feature battle.

Certain line-items do make a difference though. The Galaxy S10+ uses an in-display fingerprint sensor, while the iPhone 11 Pro relies on Face ID — Apple’s system works really well, while Samsung’s is a bit slow and inconsistent, even if it does have the general benefit of working the same in any lighting condition. The Galaxy S10+ also has double the default storage (128GB), expandable storage, and a headphone jack. It also plugs in and charges over the industry standard USB-C connector.

On the camera front, Apple took a page right out of the playbook Samsung and many other high-end Android makers have been following. There’s now a triple camera setup, with a standard, telephoto and ultra-wide lenses to give you more variety in your shooting. Samsung’s cameras are a proven quantity, and their consistency and quality make them some of the best you can get today. But Apple’s taking a step forward by using the same 12MP sensor across all three cameras, which is a big plus, and is also launching a new Night Mode that will undoubtedly beat Samsung’s already-weak low-light performance.

The final verdict of the camera comparison will have to come after we’ve used the iPhone 11 Pro for longer, but considering where the iPhone XS already stood and the improvements Apple made it’s likely going to pull ahead of what the Galaxy S10+ has to offer.

Should you buy the Galaxy S10+ or iPhone 11 Pro?

Whichever side you start from is where you’re likely to land again when you upgrade.

Comparing an Android phone to an iPhone is difficult. So much of the experience is just incomparable, and lives in a world with years of history on each side that’s far more important than the individual spec-to-spec comparisons of the latest devices. If you already have an Android phone, or particularly a Samsung phone, you’re going to be far more inclined to stick with that ecosystem and the familiarity with the interface and apps. The same goes for the iPhone — perhaps even more so if you take into account iPhone-only features like iMessage and Apple’s suite of services that just aren’t available on Android.

So it’s unlikely that you’ll be impartial when coming into comparing the Galaxy S10+ and iPhone 11 Pro. Whichever side you start from is where you’re likely to land again when you upgrade. But if you’re truly up for a switch or don’t care about the ecosystem part of this, look to Samsung for its incredible spec sheet, features and flexibility of software customization and capabilities; look to Apple for a simpler and more consistent software experience, better camera quality and the potential draw of its excellent app ecosystem. You really can’t pick a winner here that applies to everyone — but it’s clear why these phones are the best available on both sides of the ecosystem.

Android standard

Galaxy S10+

The best the Android market has to offer.

Samsung’s hardware, display, features and specs all match or exceed Apple’s, but that may not be enough to overcome the iPhone ecosystem lock-in.

Going ‘pro’

iPhone 11 Pro

Apple plays catch-up really well.

Apple matches what Samsung can offer in everything but specs and raw number of features — but offers the huge benefit of Apple’s ecosystem and an incredible camera system.

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Hushed gives you a second private phone line for just $25

Hushed Private Phone Line Features

It’s annoying how often you have to provide your personal number these days. Whether you’re signing up for an online service or making an impulsive purchase, a phone number is often required.

Sadly, giving your main number makes you easy prey for scammers and telemarketers looking to bombard you with illicit phone calls and texts. Fortunately, that can be easily avoided. You can protect your privacy by spending just $25 on a Hushed Private Phone Line.

The Hushed app is like having a second phone but without the hassle or cost. You get all the same perks of having a spare phone with a new number. They include Wi-Fi calling, customizable voicemails, and call-forwarding.

Get all the same perks of having a spare phone.

You can buy and sell items on Craigslist, apply for dating apps, or exchange phone numbers with strangers without worrying about your privacy

The plan is a lifetime subscription to Hushed, which includes a combination of 6,000 texts or 1,000 minutes in credit per year. The license and credit automatically renew at the end of each year, at no extra cost to you. You can even choose from hundreds of area codes across the U.S. and Canada.

For the next few days, the $150 Hushed plan has an 82% price drop. That means you can sign up for just $25.

If you like the sound of the deal, hit the button below to get started.

This deal not quite right for you? To see all our hottest deals, head over to the AA PICKS HUB

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Galaxy Note 10+ vs. iPhone 11 Pro Max: Which should you buy?

The best of Android

Galaxy Note 10+

Over the garden wall

iPhone 11 Pro Max

The Galaxy Note 10+ has a long-lasting battery, three powerful cameras, and of course, the mighty S Pen. It’s easily one of the best Android phones around, and beats out the iPhone with tweakable software, expandable storage, and lightning-fast charging.

$1100 at Amazon


  • 256GB of expandable storage
  • Three powerful cameras
  • Multipurpose S Pen tool
  • Incredible edge-to-edge display
  • Great battery life and fast charging


  • No headphone jack
  • Low-light camera quality is weak

The iPhone 11 Pro Max is Apple’s biggest, most powerful phone yet, with three great cameras and the promise of all-day battery life. You’ll need to pay extra for worthwhile storage, but multi-cam recording and conveniences like Airdrop make it a great option.

$1099 at Apple


  • Works well with other Apple products
  • Three powerful cameras
  • Dual SIM-capable with eSIM
  • Seamless transitioning between lenses
  • Improved Face ID


  • No headphone jack
  • Starts at just 64GB

The Galaxy Note 10+ and the iPhone 11 Pro Max are the two top-end phones from each respective platform. Software aside, there’s a surprising amount of similarities between the two phones, from triple cameras to large, nearly bezel-less displays and high quality designs made up of metal and glass. So which one is a better fit for most people?

The battle of Android vs. iOS continues

By now you’ve likely made up your mind on whether your prefer Android or iOS (you can guess which we prefer!), but it’s hard to debate that both Samsung and Apple are making incredible phones in 2019 — even if they’re for different people. The recently released Galaxy Note 10+ is already one of the very best Android phones money can buy, with powerful hardware and three great cameras.

There’s more to it than the software each phone uses, but it’s certainly an important factor.

That’s not especially new for Samsung; the Note 10+ is largely similar to the Galaxy S10+ before it, which featured nearly identical specs and the same set of wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto lenses. The Galaxy Note 10+ does feature a new futuristic design, however, with a nearly edge-to-edge display that wraps around the curved glass, obscured only by a small hole-punch cutout at the top.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max takes a lot of design inspiration from its predecessor, as well. The front is visually indistinguishable from that of the iPhone XS Max before it, though the rear design has been refreshed with a new frosted glass look and a significantly larger camera bump that houses the first triple-camera array on an iPhone. Just as with the Galaxy Note 10+, the iPhone 11 Pro Max features wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto cameras.

Storage is a weak point for the iPhone.

The short of is this: both phones are incredibly well-made, each with its own unique design and similar triple camera arrangements. You’ll get dual speakers on either phone, and neither features a 3.5mm headphone jack — the biggest hardware difference is the charging/data port. While the Note 10+ features the same USB-C port you’ll find on most gadgets made in the last few years, the iPhone 11 Pro Max sticks with Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector.

One major win for the Galaxy Note 10+ is its microSD slot for easily expanding the built-in 256GB of storage — with the iPhone, you’re stuck with the storage you pay for, starting at a measly 64GB. That’s a quarter of the storage for the same price, though the iPhone at the very least features dual SIM compatibility through use of its eSIM, which can be a big plus for frequent travelers and business users.

Without touching too much on software (which, again, you’ve undoubtedly already come to your own conclusions on), iOS is still a great fit for those who already have other Apple devices. Convenient features like Airdrop and iMessage play as big a role as ever in drawing users into the Apple ecosystem, though there are of course similar services on Android. The Galaxy Note 10+ runs Samsung’s One UI over Android 9 Pie, which features a built-in video editor, plenty of customizability, and powerful camera controls.

Speaking of cameras, while both phones offer the same choices of lenses, you’ll get very different experiences with each. The Galaxy Note 10+ has plenty of useful tools that benefit both photo and video; along with manual camera controls, you get ultra-stabilized video, focused audio zooming, and even live focus video that adds depth behind your subject. You can also use the S Pen as a remote shutter for capturing photos and videos without touching the screen.

As far as cameras go, you’re choosing between manual controls and multi-cam recording.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max doesn’t offer nearly as many controls; you can’t adjust things like shutter speed, focus, or aperture manually through the built-in camera software. But Apple is making use of its powerful new A13 Bionic chip to prime each of its lenses in the background while you shoot, allowing you to switch lenses while filming without any noticeable change in color or exposure. Through the popular third-party app Filmic Pro, you can even film with all three rear lenses at once (and even the front camera!), saving each feed as a separate file to edit to your liking later.

Both phones promise all-day battery life, and while we haven’t yet had the chance to put the iPhone 11 Pro Max to the test, the Galaxy Note 10+ certainly lives up to its claims. A huge victory for the Note comes in the form of its charging, supporting up to 45W with a wired connection. Even its 15W wireless charging nearly matches the 18W wired charging of the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong choice here. Both phones are incredibly powerful, and each represents the very best of its respective manufacturer and platform. If you want the best interoperability with other Apple devices, or you want the ability to film with all of your phone’s cameras at once, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is the best phone you can buy. If, on the other hand, you like to customize your phone’s software to your heart’s content, or you value the hardware amenities like expandable storage and the S Pen, the Galaxy Note 10+ will take you further for your money.

The best of Android

Galaxy Note 10+

One of the best Android experiences around.

The Galaxy Note 10+ has a long-lasting battery, three powerful cameras, and of course, the mighty S Pen. It’s easily one of the best Android phones around, and beats out the iPhone with tweakable software, expandable storage, and lightning-fast charging.

Over the garden wall

iPhone 11 Pro Max

Spare no expense.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max is Apple’s biggest, most powerful phone yet, with three great cameras and the promise of all-day battery life. You’ll need to pay extra for worthwhile storage, but multi-cam recording and conveniences like Airdrop make it a great option.

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Hands-on with the OxygenOS Open Beta

android 10 oneplus 7 pro

Android 10 is here! Well, it is if you happen to have a Google Pixel or an Essential Phone. The rest of us have to wait a little longer, but if you happen to be a OnePlus 7 or OnePlus 7 Pro owner you can get a taste of what’s to come with the Android 10 OxygenOS open beta.

I’ve been running the first open beta on a OnePlus 7 Pro for a few days now and there are a bunch of fairly significant changes along with some more subtle tweaks, most of which are expected to carry over to the stable release of OxygenOS based on Android 10 in the near future.

Before we get going with my hands-on impressions, it should be noted that the open beta is a fairly buggy affair. It may be tempting to “upgrade,” but be warned that there are inevitable instability issues. The problems I encountered — UI elements freezing, auto brightness inconsistency, stuttering transitions — are by no means exhaustive. You can give the beta a spin yourself via the button below, but if you do encounter any issues be sure to report them to OnePlus here.

With that out of the way, let’s see what’s in store for Android 10 on the OnePlus 7 Pro!

Hello new gestures, goodbye “pill”

I’ve been flitting between the OnePlus 7 series and a Pixel 3 XL for months now and during that time I’ve been using Google’s awkward two-button “pill” navigation on both for consistency’s sake. The OxygenOS Android 10 beta has thrown all that out of the window because the pill is gone, perhaps for good.

You still have three choices in total, with the old school three-button bar and OxygenOS’ upward swipe gestures still available as options. The third option now mimics Google’s new, distinctly iOS-esque gestures introduced with “stock” Android 10, with horizontal swipes introduced to go back on top of short vertical swipes for recents and a longer upward swipe for the app drawer.

Whether you like them or not gestures aren’t going anywhere and this is inarguably the best implementation so far. OnePlus has actually gone a step further by addressing the hamburger menu dilemma.

Unlike Google’s clumsy hold-and-peek band aid, if you swipe from the top left edge of the screen on a OnePlus phone running Android 10 you’ll still summon the hamburger menu instead of going back. As shown in the GIF above, it works perfectly, and Google should absolutely take note.

I actually miss the pill.

With all that said, and it might be Stockholm Syndrome talking at this point, I actually miss the pill. Is it objectively worse? Maybe. Would I have liked the option to stick with it? Absolutely.

Another minor tweak to navigation is the ability to hide the gesture guide line at the bottom of the UI. While this is mostly a visual change that gives you a tiny bit of extra screen real estate for general use, it also means you have to “throw” recent apps (a diagonal swipe from the middle) to cycle through them rather than swiping left and right on the bar.

Telephoto and wide-angle video, wide-angle Nightscape, and more

The camera has always been one of OnePlus’ weaker areas, but the Chinese brand has, to its credit, always improved overall quality and added new camera features post launch. This trend continued in the months following the OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro’s release and it’s due to get yet another boost with Android 10.

Related: We went behind the scenes with the OnePlus camera team. Here’s what we learned.

The headline additions are the ability to capture video using the wide-angle and telephoto cameras, as well as Nightscape support for the wide-angle lens.

As you can’t flip between the three cameras on the fly, the telephoto zoom feels a little redundant, but wide-angle video is great for capturing landscapes. In fact, video capture in general is vastly improved thanks to the 1080p-locked Super Stable mode that can be toggled on via a new icon in the top right of the Camera app.

Wide-angle Nightscape is also a neat option to have in theory, but you gain a ton of noise switching from the primary to wide sensor and the overall image quality you are left with is really quite poor if your hand moves even half an inch. You can also now take zoomed portrait shots using the telephoto lens and that fares much better.

On the selfie side, Focus Tracking now follows moving subject’s faces around and keeps them in focus. This apparently also works on cats and dogs, but I couldn’t get my obstinate feline into shot long enough to test it.

One feature that’s been widely reported on but isn’t here in the open beta is a Super Macro mode, though that could still arrive with the stable release or as a future update to the OnePlus Camera app. There is, however, a newly added option to hide any photos in a “Hidden Collection” album in the Gallery app which should be great for those, well, private photos. Moving on.

Zen Mode gets even more chill

OnePlus’ surprisingly popular Zen Mode has gotten even better in the Android 10 beta with the much-requested addition of timer options. Instead of the default 20 minute break, you can now silence your notifications and apps for 30, 40, or 60 minutes as well.

If you’re not into Zen Mode’s extreme approach to digital health, you’ll be happy to hear that the full Digital Wellbeing app that was missing on Android Pie-based OxygenOS has now finally arrived too. This is the latest version, so it also includes parental controls like screen time and app limits via Google’s Family Link suite.

Game on with Game Space

OnePlus doesn’t technically make gaming phones, but its phones just so happen to be among the best handsets you can buy for playing games thanks to all of that top-end hardware.

With the Android 10 beta, OxygenOS has also come to play with the new Game Space app. The app is essentially a mini launcher where you can access all of your games, much like the game launchers we’ve seen from Asus and Samsung.

As well as the smart, clean design, Game Space is also the new home for Gaming mode and Fnatic mode, which had previously been haphazardly stuffed into the nondescript Utilities sub menu in Settings. These are all smart and stylish changes that — combined with upgraded screen recording that now supports QHD and 60fps — make the OnePlus 7 Pro an even better phone for gaming on the go.

Improved Ambient Display

android 10 oneplus 7 pro ambient display

Let’s get the disappointment out of the way first: There’s still no always-on display.

As a sort-of solution to what’s still an utterly baffling omission, OnePlus has improved the Ambient Display. Following the Android 10 update, the Ambient Display shows weather reports and calendar events that adapt depending on the time of day and your location.

Ambient Display has been upgraded, but it’s baffling there’s still no Always-on option.

There’s also apparently a new feature which, much like the Now Playing feature on Pixel phones, shows you the song and artist name for any music playing with just a tap on the Ambient Display. I say apparently because I couldn’t ever get this to work.

The priority and grouping changes to the notification bar in stock Android 10 also make it over in the OxygenOS open beta in full.

Dark mode and Customization

android 10 oneplus 7 pro version number

OnePlus was always far from the worst offender when it comes to OEMs transforming the Settings menu into a cluttered mess (looking at you, Huawei), but things get even tidier with Android 10 thanks to the new Customization menu.

Related: Does “true black” dark mode save more battery than dark gray? Yes, but also no

Instead of throwing all of OxygenOS’ customizable elements into different categories, this new sub menu bundles together almost all of the optional cosmetic UI changes. This includes accent colors, UI icon shapes, app icon packs, fonts, and all lock screen customization like wallpapers, in-display fingerprint animations, and the color of the Horizon Light for notification flashes along the curved edge.

It’s also where you’ll find OxygenOS’ take on a proper, AMOLED-friendly, system-wide dark mode. The option appears under Customization > Tone alongside the regular Light theme and a Colorful mode which mixes light and dark elements with colorful icons. Alternatively, you can select the “Nuanced dark” preset theme which also changes other UI elements like the Ambient Display clock and fingerprint animation.

Unfortunately, OnePlus’ dark mode mixes jarring gray tones into the deep blacks, most notably in the quick settings panel. This won’t be a deal breaker for many, but dark mode purists will no doubt hope this changes for the stable release. It’s also worth noting that there isn’t a dark mode shortcut in quick settings as there is in stock Android 10.

Other features and UI tweaks

android 10 oneplus 7 pro bugdroid

We’ve covered most of the core changes in the OxygenOS open beta, but on top of other base Android 10 changes, such as the new privacy options, there are plenty of minor tweaks that are exclusive to OnePlus’ skin.

Many of these are aesthetic changes that are as small as the freshly disembodied Bugdroid icon now appearing on the boot screen and the relocation of the battery indicator to the left side of quick settings.

OxygenOS packs in a raft of major and minor changes that improve on ‘stock’ Android 10.

Others, like the revised volume panel with multiple sliders in one small panel, are useful but easy to miss. There’s also Intelligent Control which automatically adjusts background power for apps based on their characteristics and your own usage.

Raise to Switch is actually one of my favorite new features. With Raise to Switch any calls you make or answer will automatically switch over from any Bluetooth headsets or headphones you might have accidentally left on when you lift the phone to your ear.

Many of these additions and changes are relatively minor, but are still smart and welcome improvements over regular Android 10.

That’s it for our hands-on with Android 10 on OnePlus 7 Pro. Which is your favorite new feature? Is there anything we missed? Let us know in the comments.

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