Update: The OnePlus 10T will be officially unveiled today, and you can follow the reveal with us in our OnePlus 10T launch event live blog.
The recent OnePlus 10T teaser published by The Verge contains both good news and bad news. Now that the OnePlus 10T design and colors just got revealed, there are indications at some impressive specs as well. But what really sticks out is that for the first time on a flagship OnePlus phone, there's no alert slider to move the phone between normal, vibrate and mute sound profiles.
Perhaps this shouldn't surprise us, given we've already seen cheaper models like the OnePlus Nord CE 2 or the OnePlus Nord N200 5G set this precedent. But it's something I'd hoped wouldn't happen to OnePlus' premium phones, both because of what it suggests about the company, and what it could mean for the smartphone market as a whole.
OnePlus's chief designer Hope Liu told The Verge that due to the addition of a higher capacity battery, faster charging and an improved antenna to the OnePlus 10T, either the alert slider had to go or the phone had to be made thicker to compensate. It would be interesting to know how much thicker the phone would have to be to support the alert slider as well. The OnePlus 10 Pro wasn't particularly thick, so perhaps OnePlus could have got away with stacking the motherboard to give us all the upgrades plus keep the alert slider.
Another unspoken reason that OnePlus ditched the alert slider could be durability. The OnePlus 10 Pro was the victim of an infamously destructive bend test, so if removing the slider helps shore up the OnePlus 10T's body, then that's far more important for the long-term usability of the phone.
Maybe when the OnePlus 10T launches next week, it'll fulfill all of the company's promises, become one of the best Android phones we've ever tested and then we can forget all about the missing alert slider. However, chances are it'll remain a sore point for anyone who's been following OnePlus for some time, or who wants the healthiest possible market for smartphones.
It's tempting to lay the blame for the missing alert slider at the feet of Oppo, OnePlus' partner company since 2021. However, as previous opinions on the state of OnePlus have noted, OnePlus has been on a trajectory towards conventionality for some time, arguably starting with the release of the OnePlus 7 Pro in 2019. Since then, and particularly since OnePlus started launching more and more mid-priced Nord series phones, the company's output has become more generic, with the removal of the alert slider from the OnePlus 10T being the most obvious sign so far of this trend.
The phones haven't necessarily got worse as a result of this, as phones like the OnePlus 10 Pro and the OnePlus Nord 2T prove. It's more that the company's slowly morphed from a quirky upstart phone maker to part of the Android smartphone establishment alongside Samsung and Google.
As any good therapist or Instagram wellbeing influencer will tell you, change is a natural part of life. However, OnePlus is a company that prides itself on being user-focussed, and ditching a well-loved feature that's been on its phones since the beginning doesn't seem like a change its dedicated fans would ask for.
The company's pivot to focusing on battery capacity and charging speed is arguably a good thing, but the OnePlus 10 Pro already had strong battery life and rapid 80W charging (or a still quick 65W in the U.S.). When we review the phone, we'll have to weigh up whether the extra speed and longevity were worth removing the slider, or if the improvements are too slight over the OnePlus 10 Pro to justify the change.
Taking a wider view though, phones with great battery life and super-fast charging are quite common on the Android side of the smartphone market, while those with alert sliders are not. Presumably, OnePlus reckons it'll sell more phones by trying to compete more fiercely on battery and charging specs, but smartphone buyers deserve a wide choice of features when they go shopping.
Removing the alert slider may help OnePlus provide impressive numbers on its specs page. But as a result, the breadth of the features available on new smartphones has got a little smaller, and that's not good for potential customers.
Fortunately for now, anyone wanting a OnePlus flagship with an alert slider can just go for the OnePlus 10 Pro. We just have to hope that next year's OnePlus 11 (or whatever it gets named) will keep the alert slider on at least one model. Not only because it's one of OnePlus phones' most distinct characteristics, but also because the phone market needs more unique features like this to give more buyers exactly what they're looking for.
On the other hand, if you're ready to abandon OnePlus, there are always the best iPhones to check out. Whether it's the cheapest iPhone SE (2022) or the most luxurious iPhone 13 Pro Max, they've all got a two-position Ring/Silent switch. Let's just hope Apple doesn't remove the switch from the iPhone 14 later this year, otherwise we'll really be in trouble when it comes physical phone controls.