The Black Shark 2 was recently announced and we were able to take it in hand just after its officialization. We deliver here some impressions on the smartphone gaming and our first photos.
The Black Shark 2 was officially unveiled in China. We were present at the launch conference and had the opportunity to take control of Xiaomi's new gaming smartphone – but beware, the Xiaomi brand is not highlighted at all, as we will see later.
Here are our first impressions punctuated by some pictures of the camera.
No doubt, we are dealing with a Black Shark! The back takes the aggressive and very marked lines that are part of the DNA of this product line. And since we're talking about the back side, let's be clear that this one is made of metal and glass and gives off a great feeling of solidity. As for the weight, we must admit that it feels well weigh in the hand with its 205 grams announced by the brand.
The deep lines of the back created slight reliefs, even the double photo module at the top left is a bit bigger. It's quite strange at the first contact with the phone, but it's not embarrassing and you get used to it very quickly. Finally, we can not forget to mention the Black Shark S-shaped logo that can light up in different colors that you are invited to customize as we will see later. The slices of the smartphone also light up in their center when we receive a call or when we connect the device.
Let's go to the front. The 6.39-inch AMOLED display has a 19.5: 9 ratio and a resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixels. All without suffering the slightest notch. At first glance, it is pretty well calibrated and offers maximum brightness, but we will need a longer and deeper to refine this review. Beyond this, note the rounded corners of the slab visible contours, but far from thick. In this regard, be aware that the forehead is as wide as the chin – without excess – and both house speakers stereo front.
As for the fingerprint reader, it is hidden under the screen. The sensor does not always work perfectly on my first use, but I especially noticed that it took a little too long to unlock the Black Shark 2, but the animation under the thumb is pretty cool. That's at least that.
At the bottom there is a USB-C port and a drawer for two nano SIM, but no microSD. The jack was not invited on the smartphone. On the right side, above the unlock button, there is a latch to access the Shark Space that boosts performance in game.
As mentioned above, Black Shark is a kind of subsidiary of Xiaomi, but the big Chinese company is not put forward at all. This is felt especially at the level of the entire software. Instead of MIUI, we are entitled to the Joy UI interface based on Android 9.0 Pie with a security patch dating from February when this article comes out. What about this one? Well, it looks a lot like Pixel Launcher, with exactly the same gesture navigation.
However, everything is not the same: the Camera application, for example, is clearly recovered from MIUI and the watermark that appears at the bottom of the shots is the same as that of the devices sold under the Xiaomi brand – only the name of the model changes obviously.
There are also some special options like Light Settings which is used to set the colors in which should illuminate the S on the back of the Black Shark 2. Several possibilities are offered.
This desire to want to match the Google Pixel interface is very interesting to follow on the side of Black Shark. Unfortunately, we regret the fact that some sentences are truncated: there are still some adjustments to make.
Performances and games
The Snapdragon 855 is called here to make speak all its power. Depending on the version, it is coupled to 6, 8 or 12 GB of RAM. But that's not all: the Black Shark 2 focuses its entire user experience around the game. Thus, by entering the Shark Space with the latch on the edge of the phone, you can close all non-essential applications in the background to enjoy a better gaming experience without a hitch. In Shark Space, there is also a mode "Ludicrous" as on Tesla cars. Similar to a sport mode, this feature allows you to focus all the power of GPU and CPU on a game so that hardcore players find their account.
Once is not custom, the cooling system is strongly put forward. Here, it has the distinction of being composed of several layers to cool the CPU in all conditions, even during charging. In other words, you can plug the Black Shark 2 into a power outlet and push all game settings to the bottom without suffering any heating problems. In theory, at least. In practice, here too, we will wait for a complete test before saying more. Note that in accessory, there is a shell specially designed to cool even more the phone.
This hull is supposed to allow a temperature drop of 10 degrees Celsius in 10 seconds.
Still in terms of games, the Black Shark 2 offers a special mode that allows to customize touch zones on the right and left of the screen – horizontally. By pressing firmly on one of these zones, the player will be able to trigger several actions. The mark explains that with two inches, you can trigger four buttons to do more damage during a game. It is also possible to set the intensity with which one must press the screen to take advantage of this option.
Finally, I will allow myself a little word on the GamePad 3.0 that turns the smartphone into joystick: these are two small modules very similar to the Joy-Con of the Nintendo Switch. They clip in almost the same way and can be used independently. I found the design well worked and pleasant in hand despite triggers a little too close to each other. Too bad also that it is mandatory to use a thin shell to clip the joysticks. And thanks to the DisplayPort, you can connect the Black Shark 2 to a TV and enjoy this larger screen for better immersion.
It will also highlight the presence of microphones with reduced noise surrounding to use the voice chat with great comfort.
Photos and battery
I was able to take some pictures with the 48 megapixel dual sensor (f / 1.75) and 12 megapixel telephoto (f / 2.2). The shooting conditions were not famous, but the low-light quality seems quite promising without being incredible. This will be followed very closely.
As for the battery of 4000 mAh, it should allow a comfortable autonomy. Especially since it comes with a 27W fast charger.
Price and availability
We do not know yet when the Black Shark 2 will be available in Europe, but we can wonder if it is Xiaomi who will sell it or if the phone will exist under a mark a little more independent of the mother-house. In China, pre-orders have already begun from 420 euros HT for the declination to 6/128 GB and this number rises to 552 euros HT for the version with the best 12/256 GB.