Optimized For Mobile Gaming
BLACK SHARK 2
It was in 2018 when we heard the name of black shark — gaming-focused smartphone backed by XIAOMI. It offered top-of-the-line specs at an unbelievable price and got rave reviews from the majority of the tech media. Now, the company is launching a second-generation which has upgraded hardware and new software features.
Gaming smartphones tend to be large and heavy and the black shark 2 is no exception. It weighs a hefty 205 grams and even though the 8.8mm thickness seems normal. It feels bulky when we held it hands the primary reason for this is the cooling tech inside the body. They have included a large copper plate, liquid cooling pipe. A layer of graphene to keep the phone cool during gaming. Even though it is fat, the phone scores on the cool quotient with its build quality and appearance. It has a metal unibody with RGB light strips on both sides and stylish sections of glass to break up the monotony. Most people who saw and held it could immediately call it out as a gaming device.
Upfront is a gorgeous 6.4-inch, full HDR support. It has an aspect ratio of 19.5:9 without a notch. This means it has a chin at the bottom. A fat bezel on top which makes it taller compared to other smartphones with similar size in displays. Thankfully it’s well-balanced but the size might be a turn off for some. saving grace is the AMOLED display. It offers vibrant colors and perfect blacks making it a joy to play games and consume content.
Black shark claims this phone has the world’s lowest latency touch at 43.5ms and a 240Hz touch report rate. This does make a difference during FPS shooter games. Your touch input is received faster which can give you a split-second advantage. In addition, the phone also has pressure-sensitive display– it can differentiate between a tap and press(similar to 3D touch on iPhone). With this feature, you can map two extra buttons in your games to the pressure-sensitive area and get the benefit of an extra virtual button during gaming. It’s a neat feature to have but we would have preferred ultra-sonic trigger buttons like Asus’ROG or Nubia Red Magic 3.
Hardware specification is top-notch as expected: Snapdragon 855, 6/12GB, DDR4X RAM, 128/256GB UFS 2.1 storage. And an unbelievable battery backup with 4000 mAh battery. We faced no problems playing any of the available game at playing the highest setting as possible. Thanks to the stock Android interface, navigation and multitasking are also a breeze. Battery life is good too. With an hour of gaming, it will last you a full day with around 15% battery to spare. It supports 27W fast charging and a fast charger is included in the box. It goes from 0 to 60% in 30 minutes of charging. Software optimization is where black shark 2 shows off gaming skills. A dedicated hardware key launches ‘SHARK SPACE’, the gaming area.
Gaming Space Management
Shark space lets you organize and launch your games, manage incoming notifications as well as view phone performance you even get the option to optimize your frame rate, lock brightness and improve in-game audio. You can access a Game dock by swiping in from the right — corner the dock lets you enable floating Windows for frame rates. Temperature, manage notification prompts and setup Master Touch(their name for pressure-sensitive touch). When you start a game, you can access advanced features with Gamer Studio. Game Studio lets you manage performance levels, display settings (HDR, custom colors), screen touch sensitivity, speaker output, manage network (set game to priority, limit background traffic), vibration feedback and strength.
There is also a ludicrous mode in performance settings which can be used to push the processor to deliver the maximum possible performance. Access to such a wide variety of features in any mobile gamer’s dream come true.
Trouble is, even with the cooling tech inside, Black Shark 2 heats up significantly after about 45 minutes of gaming. Any phone becomes hot after gaming but we have to put this one down after 45 minutes because it is alarmingly hot.
Camera performance is a mixed bag. While it has a 48 MP primary camera, the software tends to over-sharpen the photos resulting in a loss of details. The presence of a telephoto lens and 2x optical zoom is great. But the lack of optical image stabilization is a big let down. In our usage, we concluded that the rear camera is good enough only in a well-lit environment. The front camera has a pleasant surprise — the 20MP sensor took crisp photos with natural colors and portrait mode delivers great edge detection. Considering that gamers use the front camera while streaming, having a good front camera is a big benefit.
Some of the other features that impressed us include the unbelievingly fast in-display scanner (one of the best we have seen), loud stereo speakers and a fast face unlock. What we didn’t like was the lack of expandable storage and missing headphone jack.
At asking price, Black Shark 2 definitely impresses on its performance and we love the gaming software features. Trouble is, it’s no longer the only gaming phone in this price segment. For a lower price, the Nubia Red Magic 3 offers similar specification, a larger display with 90 Hz refresh rate, 5,000 mAh battery, ultrasonic shoulder buttons and runs cooler thanks to the built-in fan + liquid cooling.
PROS AND CONS
|Built like a tank, gorgeous OLED display, fantastic performance, game-focused software features, fast-in display fingerprint scanner, loud stereo speaker, dual RGB LED light strips, good battery life, 27W fast charge support, stock Android OS.||Large top/bottom bezels make the phone bigger, non-expandable storage, the camera tends to over-sharpen images, no OIS camera, the phone gets hot after 45 minutes of gaming, no headphone jack.|