If you are in the market for a powerful gaming phone, but are not yet ready to smash your whole wallet on it, then you should definitely take a closer look at the Black Shark 2.
Black Shark 2 was released on Mar. 18 in China under the Xiaomi sub-brand Black Shark. The sub-brand was established in 2017 and makes gaming phones exclusively. Its newest handheld device sports a dual rear camera setup with a 48MP and a 12MP sensor, and a 20MP selfie camera. It also comes with a dual-SIM tray and unfortunately, no headphone jack.
Black Shark 2 is rocking a 6.39-inch 1080×2340 AMOLED display with a thick forehead and chin. It comes in two color variants, Frozen Silver and Shadow Black.
The phone case has a very gamer-centric matte black design, with angular creases and grooves. The metallic phone body features the Black Shark logo right in the center, and uses a combination of metal and glass for the build, making the device rather bulky and hefty. The material combination makes the handset very cold, which may or may not be a plus depending on one’s preferences.
The notification lights on both sides of the phone flash to notifications and to the rhythm of music being played.
Black Shark 2 features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, Adreno 640 GPU, a 4,000mAh battery, and up to 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Overall usage has been relatively smooth even after extensive gaming sessions. JoyUI is the operating system that the Black Shark 2 runs on, and while it is not the most aesthetically pleasing user interface design out there, it does its job and has been acceptable in terms of system optimizations. It’s comparable to MIUI that’s run on Xiaomi phones.
The 4000mAh battery comes with 27W fast charge, and can more or less charge up to at least 30% in 10 minutes. And the phone doesn’t heat up to an uncomfortable degree during charge.
The Master Touch keys that the Black Shark comes with is a pressure-sensitive touch system that can be mapped to anywhere on the display of the phone. It is very similar to the iPhone’s Force Touch. It effectively acts as another button available on the device and comes in handy in games such as PUBG where players can easily set the keys as firing buttons to enable quick firing right after opening a scope.
This device comes with liquid cooling to better dissipate heat across the phone. It also has an accompanying cooling accessory that Black Shark claims can lower heat down by at least 5 Celsius in just 10 seconds. Sounds plausible.
Here comes the highlight of the whole phone, Shark Space. After switching on the Shark Key, which is on the side of the phone with the power button, users can enter Shark Space/Shark Mode. Shark Mode is the advanced gaming system that comes with Black Shark 2 and allows players to manually overclock the phone’s chipset to provide the optimal conditions for gaming. You can also adjust other settings in the overhead dock such as the phone performance, display, audio, network and more.
For streamers, Black Shark 2 comes with a screen recording/direct streaming function that allows you to play and stream at the same time. The only thing is you’ll have to download an extra software on your computer for you to use the function and it currently only works on Windows 10. There are two different programs you can download. One of them is called Sigma, the other is called Miracast.
The camera performance is very, VERY average. Although it is using a 48-megapixel SONY IMX586 primary sensor, the algorithm isn’t exactly fine-tuned to produce high quality, true to light pictures. However, this is acceptable, I would say, because this phone isn’t exactly marketed as a camera phone like the Huawei P series. So, in all honesty, the cameras are really good enough if you’re considering buying this phone. Thus, it would be unwise to expect great pictures coming out of a gaming phone.
Price and Availability:
The base model has a 6GB RAM and 128GB storage configuration and begins at around $475. There’s also a variant with 8GB RAM and 256GB, while the max specs configuration with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage goes for $625.
What I liked:
- Shark Space and the Master Touch keys.
- Bulky and metallic build of the phone. However, for those who have small hands, you should take that into consideration before spending your dollars on this device.
- Fast charging and great performance when it comes to gaming.
- Amazingly affordable price tag for gaming phones.
What I disliked:
- The camera performance is very average to say the least.
- Speakers sound rather muffled up.
- JoyUI is not exactly the best looking UI and OS out there.
- Does not come with a headphone jack. Considering it’s a gaming phone, I’d expect it to at least have a headphone jack since the speakers aren’t exactly great for sound production.
Black Shark 2 is definitely a powerful gaming phone at a very aggressive price point. Do know that if you’re buying this, you’re buying it for a solid gaming phone that can provide a great gaming experience. But beyond that, everything else is just about average. So, if you don’t have a need for stunning photos, and love having a powerful gaming phone with high specs, ad don’t want to smash your wallet on an ROG, Black Shark 2 is probably your best bet on the market right now. It’s definitely something you don’t want to miss out if you’re in the market for gaming gadgets.