Ready for another gaming smartphone? Black Shark is back with a sequel to its gaming phone from of 2020. The Black Shark 2 builds on the core of the original and at the same time adds modest improvements. With a smooth, slightly supported design outside and drool-worthy silicon inside, the Black Shark 2 is ready to chip through your favorite games and look great. Here is our complete Xiaomi Black Shark 2 Review.
Xiaomi Black Shark 2 Review – In The Box
- Black Shark 2
- USB-C cable
- Slim case
The Black Shark 2 does not come with cool gaming accessories, such as a controller. That stuff costs everything extra. Content of the box is limited to an absolute basis. I would even say that Black Shark dives a bit: not only are there no headphones, but there is also no headphone adapter. The USB-C headphones from Black Shark are (and should not be) an optional purchase. I will say one thing about the matter: it has two small ridges that you can click your fingertips too. The handle material of the case and these ledges really help you to hold the phone securely while gaming.
Xiaomi Black Shark 2 Review – Design
- Gaming lights
- 163.6mm x 75mm x 8.77mm, 208g
- Sturdy aluminum chassis
- Shadow Black/Frozen Silver colors
Normally there is nothing subtle about gaming hardware. For many, the thought of special gaming gear evokes images of jet-black devices with red, orange or green backlit keys that practically glow in the dark. The Black Shark 2 adapts this stereotype to a T. The Black Shark 2 is (surprise, surprise) black with green accents. From the front, it almost looks like a normal plate, but the green chamfer on the metal frame betrays it. This accent shimmers in the light as you move the phone. The color is similar to that of the Wicked Witch of the West. I do not like it.
The stereo speakers are fairly well hidden. Black Shark cuts small splinters from the glass at the front where it touches the frame at the top and bottom and stuffs them into these slits. Where the front of the phone is all made of glass, the rest of the chassis is a serious heavy metal. The sides and back are a single piece of aluminum, split with a glass insert with green seams. The design is incredibly busy and chaotic, but I think that’s the point. This phone would look home on board a Romulan Warbird.
The glass insert is highly reflective, which contrasts with the matte black paint on the metal. Black Shark says it also helps with cooling and signal performance. Then there are the lights. The Black Shark logo is located in the center of the back of the phone and, like the logos on the back of the ROG Phone and Razer Phone 2, can be adjusted to glow and pulsate in almost any color (16.8 million, says Black Shark). The illuminated logo is connected by two illuminated strips on the sides, the so-called light belt. The standard color for the strips is the same green that is used to accentuate the metal frame, but the belts can also glow and pulsate in a wide range of colors and patterns.
Black Shark calls this all ‘sports car design 3.0’. You may see things differently than me, but none of this phone looks like a sports car. The Black Shark 2 is a completely modern device and that is unashamed. It is also huge and heavy. The amount of metal used in the chassis really adds up. This phone is not the most comfortable that you can hold for a long time. It also pulls on your pants when you walk around in your pocket. If size and weight are important to you, the Black Shark 2 is probably more than you can handle.
The controls generally work as they should. A short volume button is located high on the left, while the small on/off button and the screen button and special Shark Key are on the right. The buttons have excellent profiles and perfect action. You will find a USB-C port on the bottom, but no headphone connection. (The ROG telephone has one, the Razer Phone 2 does not). The SIM drawer is also located at the bottom and the phone supports a maximum of two SIM cards, but no memory card.
Like many modern telephones, the dual camera series is pushed into the upper left corner of the rear panel. Every round module is self-explanatory, quite substantial if you ask me. There is no water resistance or even water resistance for this phone, and despite the metal structure, it is not really robust. The Black Shark 2 is an aggressive-looking piece of hardware and it can be too much for some people. It is not the type of phone that I pull myself, but I am happy that companies are experimenting with design in devices such as this and other game phones.
Xiaomi Black Shark 2 Review – Display
- 6.39-inch Full HD+ AMOLED
- 2,340 by 1,080 resolution, 430ppi
- 19.5:9 aspect ratio
- 430-nit brightness
Black Shark gave the display an important update about its second appearance. Where the original phone had a 5.99-inch LCD screen, the Black Shark 2 has a larger OLED screen. This is a huge improvement. At a basic level, the resolution is the same as Full HD +. Given the number of games optimized for 1080p resolution, this is exactly where it should be. Everything looks sharp and sharp on the phone. The OLED screen produces much more contrast than the older LCD screen, and this increases black and colors. The result is a richer visual experience when gaming and watching Netflix.
Black Shark says it has made improvements in color accuracy, which was a complaint with the original. Whites look much more true, with only the slightest yellow tint. Viewing angles are great and there is no blue shift. Clarity is the biggest disappointment for me. The brightness of 430 nits is great on paper, but the reality is not that impressive. You have no problems with gaming in your dark bedroom or basement, but using the camera or Google Maps outdoors is problematic. The phone does not pump out enough light for easy outdoor performance. It is not disastrous, but it could be better.
As expected, you can adjust the color temperature, set blue light filters, and make other adjustments to the screen to meet your individual preferences. You can also find the fingerprint sensor on the screen. Yes, it is embedded under the front glass. I didn’t bump into snafus training the sensor, but it only worked about half the time. As much as I like the animation that appears on the screen when you use the fingerprint sensor, it’s just too unreliable for me. The Black Shark 2 also supports camera-based Face Unlock. It is faster and more convenient than the fingerprint reader, but not as secure. I resorted to the use of a PIN code.
Xiaomi Black Shark 2 Review – Software
- Android 9 Pie
We tested the international version of the Black Shark 2, which has a slightly different software experience than the Chinese and Indian versions. It runs from Android out of the box. In fact, I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t realize that the phone has a focus on gaming – at least based on the software.
Really the only indications you have are the “Game Dock” and “Light Settings” which you will find at the bottom of the settings menu. With these two, you can customize certain aspects of the gaming experience, such as notifications, frame rates, brightness, and the floating window that acts as a dashboard for all your important performance statistics (battery temperature, CPU temp, CPU frequency, etc.).
The Shark Key on the right gives access to the phone’s game zone, called Shark Space. It is quite something. The first thing Shark Space lets you know is that this mode blocks notifications and essentially helps you 100% with gaming. It also dumps the RAM to increase the speeds.
Shark Space is essentially a central location for all your games. Titles that you download from the Play Store are automatically loaded into the Shark Space launcher. They are arranged in a carousel that you can swipe side-by-side to select the game you want to play. Just like the telephone itself, the charger is black with green accents. You will also find controls for the optional gaming pads. If you purchase the pads, you can adjust the actions for each button here, as well as perform some baseline calibrations.
If you do not have the controllers, you can assign buttons on the screen to perform specific tasks. Moreover, the display is capable of 240Hz touch sensitivity with a latency of only 43.5ms. Together they translate into faster finger recognition and faster response to your input (and hopefully faster killing in the game).
One thing does not allow Shark Space to manage the performance of the phone. On the ROG Phone, the game dashboard gives you insight into the health and status of the battery and the processor. In addition, with Asus, you can adjust a number of aspects to improve performance or prevent the phone from sucking too much while playing the battery while playing games. While the game dock allows you to evaluate the CPU cycles and temperature of the Black Shark 2, there are no controls for managing it in Shark Space.
Xiaomi Black Shark 2 Review – Audio
- USB-C audio
- Bluetooth 5 with aptX HD
- Stereo speakers
The audio experience is more of a mixed bag than I expected. Stereo speakers are a good starting point, but the lack of a 3.5 mm headphone jack and USB-C audio equipment in the box means that you are your own for headphones. The speakers can deliver 1 W audio output, which means that the Black Shark 2 can get very loud. The company increased the right speaker output by about 25 percent to make up for the fact that it is likely that your grip will cover it during gaming. In addition, it is automatically adjusted to balance the volume when it detects that it is full.
Volume is not everything. Games generally sound good through the speakers, but music does not sound good. The same applies to video content from YouTube and Netflix. I prefer much sharper highs and tighter lows. Flagships such as the Galaxy S10 and LG G8, and gaming phones such as the Asus ROG Phone, have a better stereo speaker experience. The PUBG sounds were about what I expected from an FPS, and the whooping tires in Asphalt seemed authentic.
Using a USB-C-to-3.5 mm adapter that I had on hand, I patched my best pair of wired headphones in the Black Shark 2. What I heard sounded good. However, I was much happier to listen to my favorite Bluetooth headphones. With support for aptX HD on board, you will get a treat if you have a compatible headset. If you are a serious gamer, you probably own a special set of gaming headphones with a microphone.
Speaking of microphones, there is a special gaming microphone on the side of the phone to ensure that it is not covered by your hand while you play. I am very disappointed with the lack of control over the noise. The phone offers you only the most basic tools for adjusting the volume of the game, equalizer settings and the like. I expected a little more.
Xiaomi Black Shark 2 Review – Performance
- Snapdragon 855 S0C
- 2.8GHz octa-core, the 7nm process
- 8 or 12GB of RAM
- 128 or 256GB of storage
- Liquid Cooling
With one for the Best chips available and a healthy allocation of RAM, the Black Shark 2 roared with benchmarks – which we could still install. 3DMark installed and running normally, but AnTuTu and GeekBench not. We have replaced the place in 3D Bench and have simply carried it out to have a different comparison point.
On 3DMark, the phone generated a 5,566 on Sling Shot Extreme OpenGL ES 3.1 and 4,909 on Vulkan. It rated better than 99 percent of all phones in the database. The scores aren’t that important because the phone just screams. The Black Shark 2 captured every task, every app and every game that was played before. It made smooth 3D landscapes and delivered stunning gameplay. PUBG and Fortnite also ran on the Black Shark 2 as they did on the ROG Phone and flagship telephones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S10.
The phone has a number of performance enhancing functions. To begin with, it is liquid cooled and has a multi-layer heat dissipation system that is intended to divert thermal energy away from the processor cores. This includes a thermally conductive copper shield and a multilayer graphite film. The phone did not get too hot during play.
The Black Shark 2 does not support US LTE tires. I tried both AT & T and T-Mobile SIM cards and devised standard GSM services in some areas and spotted 3G in others. This device is intended for the United Kingdom, the EU, India, and China.
Xiaomi Black Shark 2 Review – Camera
- Rear cameras:
- 48MP primary sensor, f/1.75 aperture
- 12MP 2x telephoto sensor, f/2.2 aperture
- Front camera:
- 20MP sensor, f/2.0 aperture
The camera of the Black Shark 2 corresponds to competing for the functions of devices, but not necessarily their quality. With the arrangement of the dual camera on the back, you can take normal and telephoto shots and use the two lenses together for portrait/bokeh. This is a standard rate for a modern device. The controls for the app follow industry standards. A viewfinder fills the center of the screen, while various controls outline one edge and the shutter release button the other. Modes are available thanks to a ribbon next to the shutter button.
They contain a short video, slow motion, video, photo, portrait, square, panorama and pro (manually). With the pro mode, you can control the white balance, focus, shutter speed, ISO and which lens you use. To select modes, tap the name or swipe the entire viewfinder. Fortunately, this promotion is fast and smooth. I dig that with the fast controls you can manage the flash, HDR, AI-cam, and filters with your left thumb. There are even rudimentary tools for tilt-shift, beauty, and straightener. In the full settings menu, you can adjust the rest of the cameras ins and outs.
In terms of photo quality, the Black Shark 2 does slightly better than average. I expected disastrous results and came away pleasantly surprised. Most of the photos showed a sharp focus. I was particularly pleased with the cuckoo clock that was taken in relatively little light. It is sharp and usually free of noise. You’ll see compression artifacts here and the re, but it’s not too bad. Dynamic scenes caused problems for the camera.
The shot of the bridge over the river with the waterfall in the foreground lacks details in the dark iron of the bridge. You can see similar problems in some other river shots. Only a few photos are overexposed. White balance was a problem. You see a deep yellow hue in front of the image of the rock face. Color accuracy was generally inconsistent. The portrait photos are doing well, but the edge detection was not perfect. Theselfie camera did well with normal selfies. You see a good focus on me and a slight haze on the rock behind me. The entire shot leans a little towards yellow and may contain more details. You can record video up to 4K.
Xiaomi Black Shark 2 Review – Battery Life
- 4,000mAh Lithium-ion
- Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0 (27W)
The phone absolutely crushes it in the life of the battery. If you just want a phone with killer battery performance, the Black Shark 2 is a great place to watch. He flowed on for 48 hours and beyond with a lot of saving potential. If you are going to spend a lot of time on gaming, expect a little more than a day of battery life. The processor may be fine-tuned and super-cooled, but pushing polygons is a burden. Playing Fortnite or Asphalt for more than an hour or two has taken a noticeable toll on the battery.
Rest assured, you can play a few hours every day and still push from early in the morning to late at night with a little breathing space. Deep in an epic campaign and can’t put the phone down? No worries. The Black Shark supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0 (27W). Connected to the included charger for thirty minutes delivers an extra 60 percent extra battery life (you go from 10 percent to 70 percent). Yes, it charges quickly. Really fast.
There is no wireless charging on board, but the fast cabled power-ups make up for me.
Xiaomi Black Shark 2 Review – Conclusion
Black Shark 2 is a good phone, not a great phone. It delivers hardcore performance in important statistics such as battery life and brute force. In addition, the clean software, customizable light show, capable camera, and special gaming experiences should entice those looking for a mobile BFG to drag into their next campaign. If something is left behind, I would say that the huge and heavy chassis, lack of headphone connection and limited LTE 4G support would be.
Black Shark 2 is probably The Best buy for gamers who need more than the average flagship can deliver.
That’s it for our Xiaomi Black Shark 2 Review. Let us know your thoughts on this smartphone by dropping your comments in the box below.
Xiaomi Black Shark 2 Review Rating – 8.2/10
The Xiaomi Black Shark 2 is an affordable gaming phone that is great in personality and performance. The modern design and considerable footprint make it a clumsy daily driver, and perhaps it is best left to those who have vermin to kill.
- Modern design
- Gaming lights
- Speedy performance
- Big screen
- Battery life
- No 3.5mm headphone jack
- No expandable storage
- No wireless charging
- Mediocre cameras