Before the pandemic, tech launch events for media tended to be physical, at fancy hotels, or hip eateries.
During COVID-19, brands then had to find different ways to make launch events still exciting. Early on, a virtual meeting over Zoom or another video conferencing tool sufficed.
Then some brands like Samsung stepped it up by creating a virtual space accessible through our laptops, where we could explore “rooms” set up to link you to different content about various new products.
Those brought along more immersion and interaction, something that Zoom calls weren’t able to carry over from in-person events.
But just recently, I attended a launch event that will live on in my memory much longer than I expected, and not necessarily for the reasons you might think.
It was the launch of the Black Shark 5 series, by the popular Chinese gaming technology company backed by Xiaomi, Black Shark.
A return to what was once familiar
Being my first-ever Black Shark event that I’ve attended aside, what made it stand out was deceptively simple: it utilised Gather.town (Gather).
Those who’ve been reading Vulcan Post over the pandemic probably know that we used Gather for a while in 2021 when we were WFH.
This started because we weren’t able to work together in our physical office, and the repetitive use of regular workplace communication apps just didn’t do our professional relationships justice.
We missed being able to just walk up to a colleague and strike up a conversation, ask for help on something, go for lunch together, and more.
Gather allowed us to do all that once again, but through avatars. We even designed what our dream office could look like, and I’d happily tell you more about what we did, but this article is still about the Black Shark event, so you can read up on our full Gather experience here instead.
For Black Shark’s Gather event, the team had designed the space to resemble a space station (it honestly reminded me of an Among Us map).
Once I had popped in, a team member’s pixelated avatar walked up to me and greeted me. I felt bad because I didn’t have enough time to properly set up my mic to reply, and opted to wave through emojis instead, but I think they understood.
I was told to walk further in and register myself, just like at a physical event. This time though, it was just a document briefing me on what to expect and do, such as rename my avatar so the Black Shark team could identify me and the media I represented.
After that, into the main event space I went.
For lack of a better descriptor, being able to see everyone’s (other media reps and Black Shark’s team) avatars just running around before the event started was adorable.
Despite being digital, it felt like I was in a tangible space with others. I could see people “walking” around, looking for a good spot to “sit” at, and more. These were elements that you wouldn’t be able to witness over a Zoom call.
It added immersion and more importantly, fun, to the overall experience.
The reveal soon started, broadcasted via screensharing by a Black Shark team member. Not going to lie, I thought we were going to have a live launch, whereby the reveal and presentation itself would be done through the Gather stage and avatars, but perhaps that’s too much to ask for.
The reveal was also being broadcasted to the public on Black Shark Malaysia’s other social media sites though, so a prerecording made sense.
Here’s what was revealed
The stars of the show were the Black Shark 5 series phones, and their differing specs are as follows:
|Phone||Black Shark 5 Pro||Black Shark 5|
|Body||– 163.9 x 76.5 x 9.5 mm
|– 163.8 x 76.3 x 10 mm
|Display||OLED, 1B colors, 144Hz, HDR10+||AMOLED, 144Hz|
|Memory||– 256GB 8GB RAM
– 256GB 12GB RAM
– 512GB 16GB RAM
|– 128GB 8GB RAM
– 128GB 12GB RAM
– 256GB 12GB RAM
|Camera||– 108 MP, f/1.8, (wide), 1/1.52″, 0.7µm, PDAF
– 13 MP, f/2.4, 120˚ (ultrawide), 1/3.06″, 1.12µm
– 5 MP, f/2.4, (telephoto macro), AF
|– 64 MP, f/1.8, (wide), PDAF
– 13 MP, f/2.4, 120˚ (ultrawide)
– 2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
|Chipset, CPU, GPU||– Qualcomm SM8450 Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (4 nm)
– Octa-core (1×3.00 GHz Cortex-X2 & 3×2.40 GHz Cortex-A710 & 4×1.70 GHz Cortex-A510)
– Adreno 730
|– Qualcomm SM8250-AC Snapdragon 870 5G (7 nm)
– Octa-core (1×3.2 GHz Kryo 585 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 585 & 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 585)
– Adreno 650
|Colours||Black, White||Black, White, Grey|
In terms of other specs, they share the same:
- Display size: 6.67 inches
- OS: Android 12, Joy UI 13
- Battery: 4,650mAh
- Charging: Fast charging 120W, advertised to charge to 100% in 15 minutes
- Speakers: Stereo, 24-bit/192kHz audio, no 3.5mm jack
- Cooling system: Anti-gravity dual-VC
The Black Shark 5 series has optimised the GameEngine with new thermal control and AI process monitoring to achieve a more stable gaming frame rate performance.
For years, Black Shark has also been improving on its dual-zone pressure-sensitive display and magnetic pop-up triggers.
Upgrades in the dual-zone pressure-sensitive display include expanding the pressure-sensing effective area by 16%, enhancing the gaming control experience.
For competitive gaming scenarios, this technology enables gamers to achieve multiple operations with just two fingers. For day-to-day use, it can be mapped into different shortcuts.
According to Black Shark, the second-generation magnetic pop-up triggers are built with gaming-grade microswitches, with a seven-level magnetic drive lift, giving gamers a crisp and comfortable console-level gaming experience.
A flick of the side-mounted buttons reveals the triggers that are usually tucked seamlessly into the body.
Much like the dual-zone pressure-sensitive display, the magnetic pop-up triggers can be mapped into different operations for gaming, or customised into multiple functions like turning on the flashlight, taking a screenshot, and more.
In the Black Shark 5 series, touch computing power has been increased by 20%, and touch response speed by 15%.
Paired with the 720Hz touch sampling rate screen, every control should be extremely precise and fast.
The Black Shark 5 Pro in particular tops the DxOMark audio chart once again, scoring 86 points, putting it at number one in the global ranking system.
With four microphones, a microphone noise reduction solution, and HDR algorithm tuning, users are supposed to get “exceptional” sound recording in gaming or phone calls.
These are just a few of the myriad of features available in the Black Shark 5 series phones, and accompanying their launch was also the reveal of the Black Shark Joybuds Pro to enhance one’s gaming experience.
And just like that, the event was officially over. Black Shark opened the floor to the media for a Q&A session, utilising Gather’s spotlight tiles to create a podium for us to step up and ask a question.
An awkwardly fun event
Though the event was fun for the most part, there were also awkward moments, but I’d argue that they only served to make the launch more memorable.
For example, during the Q&A session, it was clear that some of us were present and listening since our avatars were moving, but we were too shy to step up to the podium.
It wasn’t like on a Zoom call, after all, where you could just turn off your camera and mic then leave the room, and everyone else would be none the wiser.
Right at the end, we were given free rein to explore the Gather event space the Black Shark team had created.
There were games scattered around the place, such as Sudoku and a drawing game, but unfortunately, no one was really willing to play with me. (And darn my shyness for holding me back from inviting someone to a game!)
With no one to play with, it was time to call it a night, and this was when the funniest moment of the event (to me) happened.
I noticed that a Black Shark team member’s avatar was entering the same spaces I did, just a split second after I would.
But still too shy to be in the same space and risk being talked to, I kept running around the map. Except he would continue to follow my avatar, and that confirmed my suspicions that he was trying to speak to me.
Embarrassed and laughing to myself, I finally stopped running away, and he quickly thanked me for coming, and I thanked him in return for the invitation.
While the phone releases were interesting, the execution of the event was ultimately the most memorable thing to me.
Best of all, the team probably didn’t even have to invest much into hosting it. The pre-recording and graphic designing of the presentation aside, using Gather to host more than 25 pax concurrently (at one point, I saw up to 30 guests) would cost only US$2-3 per user.
The map itself is entirely up to the host to customise, and external assets can even be added in for free, if you’ve learnt how to create them.
All this to say, though the world seems more in favour of physical events now, I believe more tech launches could do with hosting an event on Gather, because I’ll definitely be RSVP-ing for them.