Smartphone gaming has become serious stuff with the biggest of game makers like Tencent, Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard, and many others going the extra mile and putting their best foot forward. Mobile games themselves have become more graphically demanding and drive high audience engagement. Smartphone makers have also identified this trend and are creating an ecosystem of phones for gamers, and India remains a huge market. (Black Shark 2 review हिंदी में पढ़िए)
One such smartphone maker, Black Shark, recently entered the Indian market with the launch of their second phone, the Black Shark 2. The new brand is often confused as a part of Xiaomi which is not entirely true. Xiaomi has invested in the company, but Black Shark is not a wholly owned subsidiary and Xiaomi has no direct role to play in its functioning.
Anyways, we have been using the Black Shark 2 actively and have spent several hours gaming on the phone. Based on this experience, here’s our Black Shark 2 review.
- Black Shark 2 Review: Price and Specification
- Black Shark 2 Review: Box Contents
- Black Shark 2 Review: Design and Build Quality
- Black Shark 2 Review: Display
- Black Shark 2 Review: Performance and Software
- Black Shark 2 Review: Gaming Performance
- Black Shark 2 Review: Camera
- Black Shark 2 Review: Fingerprint and Battery
- Black Shark 2 Review: Verdict with Pros and Cons
Black Shark 2 Price in India and Specifications
|Black Shark 2
|6.39-inch HDR enabled Full HD+ AMOLED, 430 nits
|Octa-core Snapdragon 855 SoC along with Adreno 640 GPU
|128/256GB (UFS 2.1)
|Android 9 Pie
|48MP (F/1.75) + 12MP (2x) telephoto zoom sensor
|Ludicrous mode, Stereo front-facing speakers, NFC, Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by),Bluetooth 5.0,Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot, USB 2.0 Type-C 1.0 reversible connector, In-display FP scanner
|4000mAh, 27W fast charging
Black 2 Shark Unboxing: What’s In the box
Despite being a gaming-centric phone, only the usual stuff is found inside the Black Shark 2 retail unit.
- Black Shark 2
- USB-C cable
- Type C to 3.5mm jack
- Slim case
- Sim ejector tool
- User manual
- Black Shark stickers
The company does offer a bunch of gaming accessories, but they are all sold separately.
Black Shark 2 Review: Design and Build Quality
The Black Shark 2’s design approach isn’t very different than any other gaming smartphone that you may have witnessed in the last year. It gets the customary multi-color glowing logo, neon light side strips, and metal and glass body. But yes, it still manages to visibly stand out.
The back side is mostly metal with some interspersed glass spaces making for a distinctive, unconventional look – a thing people would expect of a gaming phone.
The choice of matte finish ensures a firm grip, essential to long gaming bouts. Black Shark says metal and glass design also allows it to improve cooling and boost antenna signal, both of which are legit advantages we’d want on any phone.
Unlike ROG gaming phone that has a lot going on the right and left edges, the Black Shark 2 has kept sides pretty low key. The left edge has volume buttons, and the right edge has a power button and a slider that the company prefers to call ‘Shark Key’.
This Shark Key directly activates gaming mode that cuts interruptions and boosts performance.
Like most phones in this age, it also stacks two cameras on the top left corner at the back. For biometrics, there is an optical in-display fingerprint sensor present on the front. A dual SIM tray is found tucked at the bottom edge alongside a USB Type-C port.
If you are wondering whether the Black Shark 2 has any sort of waterproofing? Well, the answer is no.
Though not unappealing, the Black Shark 2 design and build quality don’t really match up to the ROG phone, in our honest opinion. Having said that, the Black Shark 2 is one generation ahead in terms of hardware and yet significantly cheaper with a starting price of Rs. 40,000.
ALSO READ: OnePlus 7 Pro Review
Black Shark 2 Review: Display
The Black Sark 2 offers an AMOLED screen with a high touch refresh rate. Suited to gaming, the display is uninterrupted, but the notch-free experience comes at the price of a sizeable forehead and chin.
As per Black Shark, the size of the forehead and Chin ensures better grip and mitigate accidental touches during intense gaming sessions. We’d say the reasoning holds some merit. Besides, notches are now passé and we’d rather have a full display even if it’s accompanied by minor trimmings at the top and bottom.
Unlike the 90Hz display refresh rate on phones like OnePlus 7 Pro and ROG Phone, The Black Shark 2 has a standard 60Hz screen refresh rate for its 6.39-inch full HD+ AMOLED screen. The display can go up to 430 nits bright, which proved a tad underwhelming for usage under direct sunlight.
The display maps 108.9 percent DCI P3 color gamut. Wide color gamut, however, can not be correlated to better display quality. The colors of the screen in default Cinema modes were slightly extra exuberant for over liking, which is why we switched to the natural mode. There is an eye-care option as well for those who prefer to adjust color temperature manually.
Where the Black Shark 2 outscore its competitors is touch refresh rate. It comes with what company calls as Magic Press pressure-sensitive tech that lets you customize touch pressure sensitivity. The company claims that the Black Shark 2 has the lowest touch latency in its segment at 43.5ms.
The phone also comes with DC dimming technology that we recently saw put to work in the OnePlus 7 Pro. Black Shark 2 also comes with True HDR support for gaming that boosts visuals of select supported games.
Overall, the display is well optimized for gaming, but due to 60Hz refresh rate, you still won’t be able to consume 90fps supported games in full glory, which surely counts as a drawback for a dedicated gaming phone. Having said that, the higher touch response rate makes a profound difference in gaming as well as with day-to-day usage.
Black Shark 2 Review: Performance, and Software
The Black Shark 2 is driven by Qualcomm’s current best, Snapdragon 855, coupled with up to 12GB of LPDDR4X RAM and up to 256GB UFS 2.1 storage.
There are some gaming-specific enhancements like Snapdragon Elite Gaming suit, and of course Ludicrous mode for intense gaming. The phone further has Liquid Cooling 3.0 and graphene cooling strip. All this cooling tech does work and the temperature of the phone was within limits even after intense gaming bouts.
As for software, Black Shark 2 runs of Joy UI which is extremely close to vanilla Android software. The OS is based on Android 9.0 Pie. It is clean and easy to use.
Swiping Up will give access to recent apps. Swipe up again it will bring app drawer to the forefront. Apart from regular stock settings, there are additional Game Dock and Light Settings.
With stock-ish Joy UI gelling well with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC, everything felt smooth. In fact, the fast touch refresh rate makes the phone feel snappy.
Switching from Galaxy S10+ to Black Shark 2 as my daily driver, I never felt as if I was missing out on flagship performance. This shouldn’t come off as a surprise considering the hardware at play.
Black Shark 2 Review: Gaming Performance
At the time of doing the Black Shark 2 review, we played some of the most popular and demanding games like PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty: Mobile Injustice 2, Asphalt 9: Legends, Marvel Future Fight, and Mortal Kombat.
All these downloaded titles automatically get added to the carousel in ‘Shark Space’ which is sort of a dedicated space for gaming that you can quickly access using a game key. Once turned on, it automatically pauses all RAM hungry background apps and gets the system into gaming.
The Shark Space also has a Gamer Studio which can be accessed by swiping down from the top right corner. From here you can tweak performance and display touch sensitivity.
Ludicrous Mode allocates all system resources for gaming. This results in a hiccup-free gaming experience. Though the phone has a liquid cooling system in place, it does manage to touch 40-degrees Celsius, which is hardly hot in Delhi summers. Also, the phone cools down real quick.
You can monitor your vital stats like frame rates, battery temperature, and CPU clocking speed, etc. from a floating dashboard.
We played our games at highest graphics settings possible and the Black Shark 2 managed to deliver good gaming experience without ever flinching.
READ: What is DC Dimming?
Black Shark 2 Camera Review
The Black Shark 2 cameras make a handsome read on paper. There’s a 48MP Sony IMX586 primary sensor with f/1.75 aperture glaring at you with pride. The secondary sensor is a 12MP sensor with a telephoto lens (f/2.2 aperture). As for selfies, it packs a 20MP sensor with f/2.0 aperture.
The Black Shark 2 also uses pixel binning tech and deliver 12MP images. As for the image quality, it manages to capture a good amount of details but at times it seems they are over processed. Another thing that surprised me is that in the tricky condition it had difficulty in locking focus, especially in low light. The daylight performance is about decent, but the lowlight camera performance isn’t up to the mark.
ALSO READ: Samsung Galaxy A70 Review
Black Shark 2 Review: Fingerprint and Battery
As for biometric unlock, the Black Shark 2 has a fast optical in-display fingerprint sensor. Unlock consistency is workable, but not the best.
The battery life of the phone is excellent. It boasts of a large 4,000mAh battery which manages to deliver good 5 hours of screen on time which includes multiple hours of gaming. It is bundled with a 27W fast charger which charges the battery quickly.
Black Shark 2 Review: Should You Buy It?
Black Shark 2 is a phone that aims to tempt gamers with an interesting set of unique features. The aggressive pricing along with powerful specs sheet will work in the favor of the debutant. The aesthetics aren’t its high point even with RGB lights and the lack of a headphone jack wouldn’t bode well with many gaming enthusiasts.
At Rs 39,999 the Black Shark 2 still is among the cheapest SD 855 phones and offers very lucrative gaming hardware. Do we recommend buying the Black Shark 2? Well, Yes. If gaming is your top priority and if you are restricted by a budget, it is certainly one of the better gaming devices available for a sub 40,000 price.
- Display touch responsiveness
- Stock~ish Android
- Battery mileage
- No 3.5mm headphone jack