There’s nothing minimalist about the OnePlus 10T launch event scene, and in a place called Gotham Hall, how could that be? The ceiling and walls are illuminated in bright red, and the audience is covered in a blue glow. There is also a chandelier in the middle of the ceiling that gives real the Phantom of the opera vibes.
OnePlus hasn’t left much to the imagination ahead of its launch event. On the one hand, a couple of 10Ts are embedded in the wall where attendees enter, so the template is ready. As is often the case, OnePlus has also leaked specs ahead of time, from the chipset to the controversial missing alert slider. It’s a number-colored image of the phone with almost everything shaded except for one key spec: price.
Like almost everyone sitting around me in a section reserved for media, I had a OnePlus 10T to test under embargo for a couple of weeks. We know how it works, how much it costs, and we’ve formed our opinions about who should or shouldn’t buy one. We are not here to learn anything new; we’re here, just down the street from broadway, for a little theater.
So are hundreds of other attendees, and it’s not just the tech industry types: OnePlus opened the doors to anyone who paid $25 for a ticket. Attendees start to crowd into the standing room in the back as seats fill up, and a guy with Extreme Movie Announcer Voice informs us that more chairs are arriving.
There there are not enough chairs for everyone, but the event starts anyway, and it’s every bit as cinematic as the venue implied it would be: spotlights illuminate the walls above and around the stage to emphasize what’s being advertised: lightning bolts for fast charging; volcanic rock for revealing the design, etc. You’d think you’re in a really dramatic show or maybe Cirque du Soleil, but no, it’s all about a phone.
To that end, there’s a slide at the beginning of the presentation that’s just raw specs that gets a round of excited applause. A gentleman behind me yells “where’s the alert slider?” a couple of times when the presenters pause. This is really a unique type of drama.
The presentation drags on a bit, and towards the end of the
Color OxygenOS 13-bit, we are all ready to get up from our seats. Someone nearby is playing a game I don’t recognize on their phone, maybe it’s a 10T? That’s a good use case for it anyway. Maybe the presentation went on too long – we sat through a video twice! — or maybe it’s just that I have to urinate. If this was a virtual event like all the others in recent years, that wouldn’t be a problem. But I’m stuck in my seat with a wall of standing attendants blocking my way out. Finally, we got the grand prize reveal and were encouraged to visit the demo stations in the rooms at the back of the theater.
Perhaps it’s a new perspective after more than two years of a somewhat isolated existence, but the demo’s situation is a bit Wonderland-esque: familiar but also not. Servers carry OnePlus-branded iced coffee bowls with names that are reproduced on phone features, such as “long-lasting latte.” There’s a whole menu of snacks and drinks like this, but the brand doesn’t go as far as covering the Bud Light logo on one of the coolers.
One room features a deconstructed model of the phone’s cooling system, sprayed with dry ice and dramatically lit, like the ark of the covenant. There’s also a wall of older OnePlus devices with alert sliders as far as the eye can see, what a joke.
There are gift bags on the way out, of course, and back through the looking glass onto 36th Street, in oppressive heat and blinding sunlight. One of the event presenters is on the curb waiting for an Uber (See? They’re just like us!), and it takes me a minute before I quickly move on to the next thing on my schedule. it wasn’t quite hamiltonbut it was good entertainment, if a bit strange.
Photograph by Allison Johnson/The Verge