There’s nothing minimal about OnePlus’ 10T launch event and the scene at a venue called Gotham Hall, how could that be? The ceiling and walls are lit with bright red, and the audience is blanketed in a bluish glow. There is also a chandelier in the center of the ceiling which gives off the original The Phantom of the Opera vibes.

OnePlus hasn’t left much to the imagination till its launch event. For one, a couple of 10T’s are embedded in the wall where attendees walk, so the jig is up. As it so happens, OnePlus has prematurely dropped the specs, from the chipset to the controversial missing alert slider. This is a color-by-numbers photo of the phone with almost every bit overshadowed except for one key specification: the price.

Like everyone sitting around me in a section reserved for media, I had the OnePlus 10T under a ban for a couple of weeks to test. We know how it performs, what it’s worth, and we’ve formed our opinion on who should or shouldn’t buy. We are not here to learn anything new; Here we are – just down the street from Broadway – for a little bit of theater.

So are a few hundred others in attendance, and it’s not just tech industry types: OnePlus opened the doors to anyone who would pay $25 for a ticket. As seats fill, attendees begin to crowd the standing room in the back, and a man with extreme movie announcer voice informs us all that more chairs are coming.

There aren’t enough chairs for everyone, but the event begins anyway, and it’s every bit as cinematic as it is contained: Projectors illuminate the walls above and around the stage to emphasize the point. to see what is being announced: Lightning for fast charging; Volcanic rock, etc., to reveal the design. You’d think you were in a really theatrical stage show or maybe the Cirque du Soleil, but no, it’s all about a phone.

To that end, a slide early in the presentation is just raw spectacles that elicited a round of excited applause. A gentleman behind me says, “Where’s the alert slider?” A couple of times when the presenters stop. It really is a unique kind of drama.

OnePlus 10T review: Call it a comeback

The presentation drags on for a while, and toward the end of Color OxygenOS 13 bit, we’re all ready to get out of our seats. Someone nearby is playing a game that I don’t recognize on their phone – maybe it’s the 10T? Anyway this is a good use case for it. The presentation may have gone on too long – we sat through a video twice! – Or maybe it’s just that I have to pee. If it had been a virtual event like all other events of the past few years, it would not have been a problem. But I’m stuck in my seat, with only those in attendance blocking my way out of the wall. In the end, we get the big prize, and we’re encouraged to visit the demo stations in the back rooms of the theater.

Maybe it’s a new approach after two-plus years of somewhat isolated existence, but the demo situation is a bit Wonderland-esque—familiar but also not. Servers almost carry platters of iced coffee with OnePlus branding and names that play on the phone features, such as “Long Life Latte.” There’s a whole menu of such snacks and drinks, but the branding doesn’t go far enough to cover the Bud Light logo on one of the coolers.

In one room is a deconstructed model of the phone’s cooling system, submerged in dry ice and dramatically lit, like this Ark of the Covenant. There’s also a wallop of previous OnePlus devices that’s a tease – with an alert slider as far as the eye can see.

There are swag bags along the way, of course, and through the looking glass on 36th Street, the oppressive heat and blinding sun. One of the event’s presenters is waiting for an Uber (see? They’re just like us!), and I pause for a minute before rushing to the next thing on my calendar. It wasn’t quite Hamilton, but it was a good – if a little odd – bit of entertainment.

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