Black Shark 2 Review: Black Shark 2 Review: Smartphone gaming has seen an explosion in the last year or so in the Indian market thanks to the PUBG Mobile craze. Plus there are several popular games like Asphalt 9: Legends which can be demanding when it comes to graphics. The rising popularity of these mobile games means more manufacturers are now willing to offer gaming smartphones for customers.
One big name in this space is the Xiaomi-backed Black Shark, a company focusing on gaming devices. The company has recently entered the Indian smartphone market with its third smartphone, the Black Shark 2.
Here’s our review of the Black Shark 2, which is designed to appeal to gamers.
Black Shark 2 Review: Design and Build
Black Shark 2 comes with an eye-catching design and borrows the gaming laptop design with its RGB lights. The device comes with a metal build and has glass accents running through the back. The back and the sides of the device offer the RGB lighting, which can be customised from the device’s settings. The RGB lights make the Black Shark 2 look very good, and at the same time helps satisfy a gamers pride.
One design aspect most gamers will not appreciate about the Black Shark 2 is its missing 3.5mm headphone jack. Wireless headphones are good and Type-C headphones are catching up. However, there is no beating the convenience, sound quality and the affordability of a 3.5mm headphone. Also, gaming requires immediate responses, which only wired headphones can provide at the moment. Black Shark should seriously consider adding a 3.5 mm headphone jack to its next smartphone, as a gaming smartphone with no headphone jack doesn’t fair good with gamers.
Black Shark weighs in at 208 grams, which feels quite heavy. To me, it an assurance that even if the phone were to take a fall it would not break easily. The device feels nice to hold and due to its build quality and design is quite easy to grip.
A design feature that I liked is the physical switch key located on the side, which puts the device into its game mode. Thanks to this switch, you don’t need to fumble inside of the device’s settings to find the game mode, every time you want to play a quick match of PUBG Mobile.
Black Shark 2 does not come with IP dust or water resistance rating. But there is a rubber protective layer inside of the SIM tray that would seal off the phone. We still do not recommend that you take the risk and try to find out if this Shark can swim or not.
Black Shark 2 Review: Display and Touch
Black Shark 2 sports a 6.39-inch full HD+ AMOLED display with a resolution of 2340×1080 pixels. At this price point, you see many smartphones trying to push display aspect ratios by introducing a notch. This is not how Black Shark sees it.
The company has added small bezels on the top and the bottom edges of the display to take care of all the sensors. I appreciate this as notches affect gameplay. Bezels at the same time provide gamers with some area to hold the device during gameplay to avoid accidental touches.
Though I like how the display’s aspect ratios have been handled, I am not that happy with the brightness levels that the Black Shark 2. During the review period, I found that the display of the device wasn’t bright enough when required, and this was very evident under direct sunlight.
Other than the brightness issue, I found the display of the Black Shark 2 quite pleasing. The display was quite accurate and the colours were punchy enough to make content consumption much better. Black Shark has stuck to the 60Hz display refresh rate. The device comes with a touch refresh rate of 240Hz, which means the touchscreen has a reduced input latency and an increased response time. This will allow gamers to perform better at any sort of FPS for racing games.
The device also comes with a new feature called Magic Touch, which is similar to Apple’s 3D Touch technology. With the help of Magic Touch, the Black Shark 2 is able to get how much pressure is being applied to its display. This can be then mapped to different functions in games, making the gameplay much more interesting for users.
Black Shark 2 Review: Software
Black Shark 2 comes with a customised Game Mode known as Shark Space and has features added to it specifically for gaming. The company has managed to keep the main user interface of the device near stock.
The device runs Android 9.0 Pie operating system and it looks like stock Android in regular use, though the company has added its own Joy UI skin on top. But in Shark Space, which is the gaming mode of the device, the user interface is completely different. The company seems to have worked quite hard on Shark Space seeing how well it is organised and optimised. I could access all the games and quick toggle settings very easily. The games when played from the Shark Space seemed much smoother and responsive.
Black Shark 2 Review: Performance
Black Shark 2 comes with the best in class Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor paired with an Adreno 640 GPU. My review unit came with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal UFS 2.1 storage. All of this would make the Black Shark 2 one of the strongest performers in the smartphone market on paper.
During benchmark tests, the device scored in the vicinity of all of the flagship smartphones currently selling in the market.
I played a number of games spanning from small games like Marvel Champions, Cash Inc, Crowd City to heavy and demanding games like PUBG Mobile, Asphalt 9: Legends, Pokemon GO. No matter the game, the Black Shark 2 performed smoothly. When playing games like PUBG Mobile, Asphalt 9: Legends and Call of Duty: Mobile (beta) on the device, there were no issues at all.
After two to three hours of gameplay, I could see a minor drop in the frame rates and the phone was getting warm.
But when I turned on the Ludicrous Mode, which is located in the game dock inside of the Shark Space mode, there was a serious improvement in the gameplay. The Ludicrous Mode is a profile in which all the device’s resources are fully diverted to gaming. During gameplay, I noticed that the device got warm quite fast, but the frame rates increased and it was a smoother, better gaming experience.
Black Shark 2 Review: Audio and Vibrations
The phone sports two front firing speakers, which look subtle yet aggressive at the same time. These speakers are more powerful than most smartphones I have tested and sound quite pleasing. A gamer will definitely like these speakers considering they are extremely clear and have a thump to them.
The device has one of the most powerful vibrational motors I have seen with haptic support. While playing games I could feel the whole phone rumble when required, and that is quite a good feedback. The vibration feedback was accurate and wasn’t a disturbance. Instead, it enhanced the gameplay.
Black Shark 2 Review: Cameras
The Black Shark 2 takes you by surprise on the camera front. The images I was able to click with this were pleasing, the sensor is quick to focus and respond to adjustments. But there is a shutter lag while taking images. You can quickly swipe between different modes and even record 4K resolution videos at 30 frames per second (fps).
Image results were impressive with details. The colours were quite accurate, even in low-light conditions. Most professional photographers will easily point out mistakes in the devices camera quality. However, considering this is a gaming phone, this is not the core focus of the device.
The images taken with the front camera came out quite bright and colourful even in dimly lit situations. The focus was apt and the device was able to capture all of the required details.
Black Shark 2 Review: Battery
The Black Shark 2 is powered by a 4,000mAh battery with support for 27W fast charging technology. The device lasted more than a day on a single charge with approximately two to three hours of heavy gaming. In normal usage, the device might be able to last around two days without breaking a sweat. Even when I was down to five per cent in terms of device battery, the included charger got the phone to 100 per cent in under one and a half hour.
Black Shark 2 Review: Conclusion
Black Shark 2 is a good gaming companion and a stellar smartphone overall. I loved each and every aspect of this smartphone and playing games on it was a pleasure. If you are a person that loves to game on the go, this is the smartphone for you.
But not everything on this phone was up to expectations. The display, lack of headphone jack might not find favour with a wider gaming audience. At Rs 39,999 for the 6GB RAM variant, this is the cheapest current generation gaming smartphone available in India, though this is not a price that everyone might be comfortable paying.