OnePlus’ 10T launch was a weird throwback to in-person events

There’s nothing minimalist about OnePlus’ 10T launch event scene, and in a venue called Gotham Hall, how could that be? The ceiling and walls are lit in bright red and the audience is covered in a blue glow. There is also a chandelier in the middle of the ceiling giving a real The The Phantom of the Opera vibes.

OnePlus didn’t leave much to the imagination ahead of its launch event. On the one hand, a few 10Ts are embedded in the wall where the participants enter, so the template is in place. As it tends to do, OnePlus has also released specs ahead of time, chipset to controversial missing alert slider. It’s a color-by-numbers image of the phone with almost everything shaded except for one key spec: price.

Like just about everyone else sitting around me in a media section, I’ve had a OnePlus 10T in embargoed testing for a few weeks. We know how it works, what it costs, and have formed our opinion on who should or shouldn’t buy one. We are not here to learn something new; we’re here – just down the street from Broadway – for a little theatre.

The same goes for a few hundred other attendees, and they’re not just tech industry types: OnePlus has opened the doors to anyone who pays $25 for a ticket. Attendees begin to crowd into standing room in the back as the seats fill up, and a guy with Extreme Movie Announcer Voice informs us all that more chairs are coming.

If you don’t tweet it, then you weren’t really there.

The there are not enough chairs for everyone, but the event begins anyway, and it’s every bit as cinematic as the location implied: floodlights illuminate the walls above and around the stage to emphasize what’s being announced: lightning for fast charging; volcanic rock for the design reveal, etc. You’d think you’re attending 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 start of the presentation that’s just raw specs that gets a round of enthusiastic applause. A gentleman behind me shouts “Where’s the alert cursor?” several times when the presenters take a break. It really is a unique kind of drama.

The presentation drags on a bit, and towards the end of the Color 13-bit OxygenOS, we’re all ready to get out of our seats. Someone nearby is playing a game I don’t recognize on their phone. Maybe it’s a 10T? Still, it’s a good use case. Maybe the presentation took too long – we watched a video twice! – or maybe it’s just that I have to pee. If it was a virtual event like all the others in the past two years, that wouldn’t be a problem. But I’m stuck in my seat with a wall of standing attendees blocking my way out. Finally, we get the grand prize and are encouraged to visit the demo stations in the rooms at the back of the theater.

It has something to do with the heat dissipation system of the phone.

It might be a new perspective after more than two years of a somewhat isolated existence, but the demo situation is a bit Wonderland-esque – familiar but not either. Waiters carry trays of iced coffees with the OnePlus brand and names that play on the phone’s features, such as the “Long life latte”. There’s a whole menu of snacks and drinks like this, but the branding doesn’t go so far as to cover up a Bud Light logo on one of the coolers.

One piece features a deconstructed model of the phone’s cooling system, sprayed with dry ice and dramatically lit, as if it were the Ark of the Covenant. There’s also a wall of old OnePlus devices with alert sliders as far as the eye can see – what a tease.


One nation, under Lau.

There are goody bags on the way out, of course, and on the way back through the looking glass on 36th Street, searing heat and blinding sunlight. One of the event presenters is on the sidewalk waiting for an Uber (see, they’re just like us!), and I linger for a minute before hurrying to the next thing on my schedule. It wasn’t quite hamiltonbut it was a good — if a bit strange — bit of entertainment.

Photography by Allison Johnson/The Verge

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