The Black Shark 2 is clearly designed with gamers in mind
It offers unique modes to tweak performance for gaming
The 6GB RAM / 128GB variant is priced at Rs 39,999 while the 12GB RAM / 256GB costs Rs 49,999
Gaming smartphones are a relatively new concept. Given the rise in mobile gaming, it is an obvious move by manufacturers. Among the newest gaming smartphone to grace the Indian market, is the Black Shark 2. The Black Shark 2 launched in India on May 27. It is available in two variants – a 6GB RAM / 128GB storage variant for Rs 39,999; and a 12GB RAM / 256GB storage variant for Rs 49,999.
We received the base variant for review, and tested it for a couple of weeks. Here’s our review of the Black Shark 2.
Design of the Black Shark 2
Designed with gamers in mind, it comes with a dual texture rear panel with glass and metal meshed. The RGB Black Shark logo is on the center of the rear panel. The dual-rear cameras are on the rear glass panel, with the LED flash just below.
The front panel features a 6.39-inch full-HD+ AMOLED display. The front camera is in the top bezel. There are dual-front firing stereo speakers on the top and bottom front bezels.
In addition, there’s a microphone cavity on the top panel of the device. On the other hand, the bottom panel has a Type-C charging port and Dual-hybrid SIM tray. The left panel of the device houses the volume rockers and an LED indicator which has multiple functions. On the right panel of the device is the power button, and another LED indicator. Besides that, there a slider Black Shark Key.
The Black Shark Key has a coarse texture with hints of green. Sadly, there’s no 3.5mm audio port. I personally don’t like that move because I own a pair of gaming headphones. Although I could still use a Type-C to 3.5mm audio adapter, who cares to do that?In case you’re wonder, a Type-C to 3.5mm cable in included in the box.
Black Shark 2 software
The Black Shark 2 runs Android 9.0 Pie out of the box. While we had the device with us, it did receive an update as well. Black Shark is using its very own JoyUI on top of Android Pie. And I must admit it’s close to stock Android experience. The smartphone has an optical in-display fingerprint sensor with a few animations. Although it works for most part, it has trouble even if you place your finger slightly off.
Gaming on the Black Shark 2
The Black Shark 2 come with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC under the hood along with the latest Adreno 640 GPU with Snapdragon Elite Gaming graphics processing and Liquid Cool 3.0 liquid-cooling tech. The gaming device is backed by a 4,000mAh battery with support for USB Type-C Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0 tech. The Indian variants of the device will ship with 18W charging option, instead of 27W charging.
The display on the Black Shark 2
The 6.39-inch full HD AMOLED display on the Black Shark 2 has an aspect ratio of 19.5:9. In addition, it offers 430 nits of brightness and TrueView Display tech with a low 43ms latency. Sadly, there’s a 60Hz display, which for a gaming device is surprising. High FPS is essential in gaming. Smartphones such as the Razer Phone 2, Asus ROG Phone and Nubia Red Magic 3 offer 90Hz displays.
Gaming mode on the Black Shark 2
Now, gaming is where the Black Shark mode toggle switch on the phone comes into play. Once in the gaming mode, it kills non-essential background apps to clear up memory. Like we mentioned earlier, the Black Shark 2 offers phenomenal performance. Most games take little time to load with the exception of some, which could be accounted to the pre-loading structures of the games.
While in the game we ran PUBG Mobile, FIFA Mobile, Asphalt 9: Legends, Modern Combat 5, and Call of Duty: Mobile all on the maximum possible graphics settings that we could. All the games run perfectly fine without any drops in FPS. One of the best features when gaming without headphones is the front firing dual-stereo speakers. These can be tuned to your preference.
You can access the ‘Ludicrous Mode’ from the Black Shark panel in the game. This pushes the phone to its maximum performance capabilities and shows some effective results. I tried out this mode while using a few performance enhancer tools to run PUBG Mobile at 60 FPS (highest default is 40FPS) and Ultra HD graphics settings, and it run as smooth as ever.
Cooling on the Black Shark 2
Although the phone can heat up, it isn’t to the extent a typical flagship smartphone on the market does. The ‘Ludicrous Mode’ allows you to control the extent you want to overclock performance of the device. In addition, cranking up the Thermal Control of the device cautions you from overdoing it, or using the Black Shark Cooling case.
Performance of the Black Shark 2
The Black Shark 2 is a top notch smartphone when it comes to performance and can handle any app and in any number of them. Over to the camera department of the device, it features a dual-rear camera setup with 48 megapixel main sensor with f/1.75 lens and a 12 megapixel secondary sensor with f/2.2 aperture. The rear cameras on the device do more than just a decent job for a gaming smartphone and it shows that the company didn’t just design the smartphone with the gaming needs in mind.
The resolution and details in the images are impeccable which is a result of the 48 megapixel sensor and the wide f/1.75 aperture makes for some excellent low light photos. The portrait mode does a decent job as well and can quite clearly make out the edges of the different subjects in the photos, making for clear depth in them.
On the front end of things the Black Shark 2 has a 20 megapixel f/2.0 aperture selfie camera with 5lens technology. This camera is a pure surprise and it seems evident because the front camera is the one that gamers will use when choosing to live stream their games. It takes clear selfies, even in low light and its portrait mode is just as good as the rear ones.
Coming to one of the most essential segments of any smartphone, and especially a gaming smartphone is the battery backup. The Black Shark 2 is a winner when it comes to battery backup. For an extremely heavy user who plays games for over 6 hours a day, the smartphone would definitely last for a day.
And this includes all the RGB LED lights and different gaming modes turned on. For a moderate to heavy user the smartphone would easily last for 2 to 1.5 days. Charging it back with the 18W Quick Charge is great as well (27W is still to be introduced in India), and charges the Black Shark 2 from zero to full in 1.5 hours.
The Black Shark 2 is definitely an impressive gaming smartphone to be launched in India at its price point. It has excellent gaming performance, and ways to improve on the basic set of options in the games. With excellent battery backup, and rather good optics, RGB in all the right places and design to go with it, the Black Shark 2 is an ideal gaming smartphone.
However, on further deliberation, I believe that the lack of higher refresh rate on the display is a downside for a gaming smartphone. And the Black Shark being a gaming smartphone should provide auxiliary touch options which would make it stand out as a gaming device. And even if they don’t include the option on the device itself, the attachable game controller should have been made available in the box. But with respect to the other counts, it is a recommended buy.