Black Shark 2 First Impressions: Are gaming phones here to stay?

By Subhrojit Mallick | Published on 27 May 2019
Black Shark 2 First Impressions: Are gaming phones here to stay?

The Black Shark 2 is only the second smartphone in India with the Snapdragon 855 this year, and it's already setting the bar very high for the others to come.

It's a gaming through and through with features primarily made to make mobile gaming better.

The Black Shark 2 is also an ecosystem product with support for gamepads, extra cooling fans,etc.

Around a year back, we had spotted the first Black Shark gaming smartphone at the Mobile World Congress, Shanghai. Back then, we had rued how India being a big market for mobile games doesn’t get the same attention from niche gaming brands like China does. The Black Shark was an example. Now, a year down the line, our hopes have been answered. The Black Shark 2(₹ 31999 at flipkart), the third smartphone in their portfolio has arrived in India. Straight off, the spec-sheet and the pricing of the phone teases a boss-fight with the formidable OnePlus 7 Pro. The Black Shark 2 does make the OnePlus 7 Pro look like a overpriced premium device.

Welcome to Shark Space

The Black Shark 2 is a gaming phone through and through. And that essentially means the smartphone will focus on gaming and eking the most out of the flagship Qualcomm processor and the CPU. Other things like the camera and the battery life aren’t burning priorities. Both factors were barely touched upon in the launch event. Instead, majority of the presentation centered around the Black Shark 2’s gaming DNA. And there’s a lot to unpack there.

In a lot of ways, the Black Shark 2 reminds me of Razer products. The green accents are a dead giveaway of course, but it’s the refinement that the company undertook sounds like something the Singapore-based Razer would do. Razer has the Razer Phone 2 which is also quite a device for gaming, but it’s just not as feature packed as the Black Shark 2. This Chinese brand’s device has amalgamated hardware and software to set a good example of how gaming phones to look like. Now whether that will be a successful formula in India is something that remains to be seen.

The hardware is the least surprising part. The Snapdragon 855 is at the heart of everything. Incidentally, this is only the second smartphone in India, touting the flagship processor after the OnePlus 7 Pro. There’s a 6GB RAM and a whopping 12GB RAM version of the phone with UFS 2.1 128GB and 256GB storage respectively. What’s a gaming device without going a little overboard on the hardware? Powering it all is a 4,000mAh battery that tops up with a 27W bundled fast charger. Best of all, it has the look and feel of stock Android 9 Pie.

Stock Android 9 Pie was a pleasant surprise

A gaming device should also ensure you stay glued to it for long hours. So the Black Shark 2 has a bunch of cooling plates between the body and the PCB along with a dedicated cooling pipe running down from the SoC. The company claims the cooling system can bring down the core temperature by 14 degrees. Taking advantage of this, the Black Shark 2 can crank up the CPU, GPU and thermals to max out frame rates.

Flick the Black Shark switch to enter into a distraction-free gaming zone

There’s also a dedicated slider button on the side. Flick it on and you enter Shark Space. A no distraction zone with a carousel of installed games. A notification counter is the only connection to the real world. And the only way to exit the zone is to flick the slider off. That’s one binding way to keep gamers engaged, for long hours.

There’s more..

The Black Shark 2 is also an ecosystem product. You can attach two gamepads by just sliding it in on the sides and pairing it with Bluetooth. It makes for a wide PSP-like contraption. You can also connect the phone to a TV using a HDMI cable and cast your game on the big screen. While you’re at it, you can use two gamepads to multiplayer as well. Also, if you’re a streamer, you can simply connect the phone to your laptop, use the bundled software and stream to a wide range of platforms, with in-game audio and high-quality video. These features brings the Black Shark 2 closer to a gaming console. The modularity also makes it future-proof.

Fancy a PSP y'all?

Despite all that gaming acumen, you can’t really ignore the ‘phoney’ aspects of Black Shark 2. Like the camera. It’s a 1/2-inch sensor with 48MP effective resolution, paired with a telephoto lens with 2X zoom. The camera software is basically Xiaomi’s, right down to the AI mode button on the middle. On the front is another 20MP camera. There’s an in-screen fingerprint sensor and a rugged design. The design makes the phone look like a monstrous device, right down with an RGB lit Black Shark sign and another RGB strip on the edge.

The display has another cool feature. It’s a 6.3-inch AMOLED panel with the standard 60Hz refresh rate. But it apparently offers the lowest touch latency among the Galaxy S10 and the iPhone XS, according to the presentation. More than that, the screen is pressure sensitive that comes handy when playing games like PUBG Mobile. Basically, if you press harder anywhere on the screen, you can shoot your weapon. The screen is also rated for HDR, but we don’t yet know if it’s only for games or Netflix HDR too is present.

At Rs 39,999, the Black Shark 2 is an interesting proposition. But it’s not for everyone. Unlike the OnePlus 7 Pro or the other non-gaming flagships, the Black Shark 2 has one audience in mind — Mobile gamers. And there are thousands of gamers in India, for whom the Black Shark 2 might just be the device they have been waiting for. Just how well it delivers on the promise? Wait for our review to find out!

Black Shark 2 Key Specs, Price and Launch Date

Release Date: 27 Oct 2019
Variant: 128GB , 256GB
Market Status: Launched

Key Specs

  • Screen Size Screen Size
    6.39" (1080 X 2340)
  • Camera Camera
    48 + 12 | 20 MP
  • Memory Memory
  • Battery Battery
    4000 mAh
Subhrojit Mallick

Eats smartphones for breakfast.

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