As someone who’s attended so many launch events that he’s lost track of how many, I can tell you that they’re usually messy, raucous occasions where you spend half your time travelling, and the other half jostling with other excited journalists, vloggers, and fans for a chance to get your hands on the shiny new product in question for a precious few minutes.
Sure, the excitement is sometimes infectious and palpable, and there’s something to be said about experiencing a device first hand in a crowded experience zone, and you do get freebies. But, the whole experience can also, at times, be a lot less fun than you would be led to believe.
Now that we can’t have crowded launch events, it’s almost peaceful, especially for us journalists. We get the devices early anyway, and it’s more relaxing when you can lean back on your own couch, cross your legs, and sip your tea while a presenter does their pitch.
The thing is, this world isn’t made up of weary and jaded journalists like myself. The average fan or consumer, or you, gentle reader, might be looking forward to these events the way a metal-head looks forward to an Iron Maiden concert (back in the day). It’s a chance to network, to interact with like-minded folk, to perhaps bump into the odd celebrity. We all have our reasons.
COVID’s killed all of that, perhaps for good. So where does a fan go from here? YouTube is a poor substitute for the real thing. OnePlus is trying something different.
Enter, OnePlus World.
What is OnePlus World?
On paper, OnePlus World is, the company claims, a safe, virtual world where you can experience a launch event from the comfort of your couch. All you really need is a smartphone and an internet connection. A PC/tablet will also suffice, but then you won’t get to experience VR.
To enter this world, you whip out a VR headset — even a Google Cardboard will do — head over to the OnePlus World website, and fire up the experience. You need to log in to acquire points for rewards (more on that later), but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.
Once logged in, you can explore this world and inspect OnePlus phones of yore in 3D. Walk around a bit and you’ll stumble across the #ShotOnOnePlus wall, a showcase for all the pictures that OnePlus users around the world have taken. If you’re lucky enough, you might even spot one of yours up there.
There are also a couple of games to play, Warp and Hz, a very obvious nod to the upcoming OnePlus 8T 5G’s 65 W warp charger and 120 Hz display.
But this isn’t just a tech demo. OnePlus World is supposed to help you get together as a community, but with the socially-distant safety of VR. And, like cheap beer at a rock concert, goodies and freebies are an integral part of this virtual experience. Participating in games and engaging with the exhibits earn you points, which, by the end of the day — and provided you’re ranked in the top 50 — can get you rewards like discount coupons, phone cases, and even a set of OnePlus Buds!
This world also has a virtual auditorium, where you can settle with other virtual folk and experience the launch event in a theatre-like setting. You and your buddies can even create a virtual room for yourselves to experience the same thing as a group.
Note to self: Acquire friends
It’s a brilliant idea on paper, and I’m curious to see how things pan out when the launch actually happens.
If VR isn’t your thing, you can still watch the event on YouTube.
OnePlus 8T 5G: What we know
If it wasn’t already obvious, all this preparation is in aid of the launch of the OnePlus 8T 5G, yet another flagship phone from OnePlus. There’s very little we actually (officially) know about the phone. A 6.55-inch 120 Hz AMOLED and 65 W Warp charger is confirmed, as is the presence of a 48 MP primary camera with OIS, a 14 mm equivalent ultra-wide lens, dual LED flash, and a green finish. As the name indicates, there should be 5G support.
Being a OnePlus phone, I’m expecting to see the latest Snapdragon 865/+ SoC, tonnes of RAM and enough storage for most people.
The phone itself will make its debut at 7.30 pm IST on 14 October. Pre-bookings for the device have already started at OnePlus Exclusive stores, and will continue till the 16th. More info will be revealed at the launch event.
You can also sign up on OnePlus.in and Amazon.in to keep track of offers and receive timely updates.
The writer is an independent Journalist.