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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Black Shark 2 first impressions: Perfect gaming smartphone?

I got a chance to spend some time with the handset last evening at the company's launch event and here's what are my initial thoughts about the Black Shark 2.

Written by Karanveer Singh Arora | New Delhi | Published: May 28, 2019 3:16:39 pm
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Xiaomi-backed Black Shark has finally entered the Indian market by launching its Black Shark 2 gaming smartphone in the country. It will take on other gaming smartphones currently available in India like the Asus ROG Phone and the Nubia Red Magic.

The company will be making the Black Shark 2 available in the 6GB RAM/128GB storage and the 12GB RAM/256GB storage configurations in India starting July 4. The devices will be sold exclusively on Flipkart with the 6GB RAM variant being priced at Rs 39,999 and the 12GB RAM variant is priced at Rs 49,999.

We got a chance to spend some time with the handset at the company’s launch event and here’s are our initial thoughts about the Black Shark 2.

Black Shark 2: Specifications

Black Shark 2 sports a 6.39-inch full HD AMOLED TrueView display with an in-display fingerprint sensor. It also comes with a 240Hz touch response rate. It is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor paired with an Adreno 640 GPU. The device comes with 6GB and 12GB of RAM along with 128GB and 256GB of internal storage.

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It runs Google’s Android 9.0 Pie operating system with the company’s own Joy UI skin on top. All of this is backed by a 4,000mAh battery with support for Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4.0 technology. The device features a dual camera setup on the back consisting a 48MP primary sensor paired with a 12MP secondary sensor. On the front, it sports a 20MP camera for taking selfies.

Black Shark 2: Design and Build

Black Shark 2 sports metal and glass hybrid design back with a fully customisable pulsating RGB Black Shark logo. The back also consists the dual camera setup, with individual lenses placed on the top left corner. On the front, we get to see the 6.39-inch AMOLED display with no notches and minimal side bezels. The top edge of the display holds the front camera, sensors and the earpiece, which also acts as a secondary loudspeaker. On the bottom edge of the display is the primary loudspeaker.

Just like a number of smartphone manufacturers, Black Shark has not provided a 3.5mm headphone jack on the smartphone and will be selling a separate pair of USB Type-C earphones. This might be acceptable for most audiences, but in a smartphone geared towards gamers, this will be a huge issue.

First of all, gamers do not like to use Bluetooth headsets while gaming as those have a bit of an audio output lag. Also, most gamers have already invested in a good pair of headphones and are most likely wanting to use them for a long time.

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The device is quite slim and lightweight compared to other gaming smartphones. It feels quite sturdy in your hands. During the event, the unit I was testing took a fall, and despite the loud thud the device was unharmed. Overall the device sports an aggressive, almost masculine, design like most other gaming laptops and smartphones, which makes it stand apart from all the other smartphones in this price bracket.

Black Shark 2: Display

Black Shark 2 sports a 6.39-inch full HD AMOLED TrueView display with no notches. The device features small bezels on the top and the bottom edges of the display, which most gamers will appreciate due to the fact that there are no notches to affect the gameplay and the bezels provide gamers with an area to hold the phone while at the same time avoiding any accidental touches.

The company claims Black Shark 2’s display comes with 430 nits of brightness and a pixel density of 403ppi. This means the display should be bright enough to be easily legible under direct sunlight. However, that was not the case and when I took the device outside.

Even after dialing the brightness levels to full, I still needed to cover the display to read the text written on it. This might be an issue with the software or the device, hence I will need to test it thoroughly before I give a verdict.

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Black Shark 2 comes with a 60Hz display refresh rate, though with a better touch response rate of 240Hz. This, in short, means gamers will not feel lag during gameplay. Other notable display features to enhance gaming performance include a 108.9 per cent DCI P3 colour gamut, a contrast ratio of 60,000:1, 60Hz refresh rate and Magic Press pressure-sensitive tech.

This is the first time we get to see an in-display fingerprint scanner being used inside of a gaming smartphone. Black Shark is using the third-generation of in-display fingerprint scanners, which are quite fast. However, they are not as fast as the capacitive fingerprint sensors. The fingerprint scanner works fine and detected mine every single time. But it took almost a second to do so.

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Lastly, the display features ‘DC dimming technology’, which according to the company will reduce the flicker effect of the adaptive brightness and automatically adjust the display effect to the outside ambience. The company has also added a True HDR gaming mode, which will enhance the display performance while the gaming mode is turned on.

Black Shark 2: Camera

I wasn’t able to test out the camera thoroughly, but the images I was able to click came out detailed and with accurate colours despite the dim lights and the green hue of the room. I wasn’t expecting the device to give out good images considering it is a gaming-centric smartphone, not a camera phone. But after clicking the images I was a bit surprised to have gotten better than average results.

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Black Shark 2: Audio

Black Shark 2 comes with front firing stereo speakers. The speaker quality is quite impressive and hearing anything on the smartphone, whether it be music or gameplay gives a surround sound effect. The speakers are pretty loud, though they seem to lack bass. That could also have been due to the audio tests being conducted on the show floor. The top speaker only gives out the highs, whereas, the bottom speaker gives out both the lows and the mids.

Also Read: Black Shark 2 gaming smartphone with 12GB of RAM launched in India

Overall, I liked how the device’s speakers perform. I would like to reserve my judgement on this till I am able to fully test out the device.

Black Shark 2: Gaming

Black Shark 2 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor paired with an Adreno 640 GPU, making it one of the most powerful smartphones in the market right now, at least on paper. For gaming enthusiasts, the company has added gaming enhancement features to the smartphone like Snapdragon Elite Gaming technology, Liquid Cooling 3.0 technology and the Ludicrous mode.

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The company has also upgraded its X-type Smart Antenna technology to integrate two additional antennas on the sides. This has been done so that gamers can stop worrying about network drops during live streaming their gameplay. It has also added a new dedicated Live Streaming Mode along with Handheld Mode and Host Mode. This can be accessed by hooking the smartphone to a PC with a USB Type-C cable.

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During the time I had with the device, I was able to play PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends on it. Both the games worked pretty smoothly and the additional features like the 3D Touch display came in quite handy. A feature that impressed me was the device’s haptic motor, which gave precise and good feedback while gaming. When playing the games in Shark Space (Game Mode), they ran much more smoothly with increased fps and lowered latency. Shark Space can be activated by a physical switch on the right side.

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Right now, this looks like an ideal gaming phone, and hopefully this will hold up when we get the review unit.

Black Shark 2: Initial Impressions

Black Shark 2 is a gaming smartphone that performs well and has a good design and build. The smartphone plays games well and from what I have seen till now can handle most stuff I threw at it without breaking a sweat.

As of now, the Black Shark 2 ticks all the right boxes in terms of being a gaming smartphone and is also one of the cheapest gaming smartphones available in the Indian market as of now. However, considering that I have not tested the device fully as of now, so I will reserve my judgment until and after I am able to review the device.

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