Review: Black Shark 2

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Ashwin Rajagopalan

Data speeds are getting better, 5G is not too far away. The scene is set for gaming to move on from consoles. At least that’s what Black Shark, the smartphone brand backed by Xiaomi is betting on. The Black Shark 2 marks the brand’s official foray into India, with a heavy-duty smartphone focused on folks who don’t mess about their gaming.

The Black Shark 2 looks like no other smartphone out there. That’s a big deal at a time when smartphones are struggling to stand out in terms of design language. The blend of metal and glass – we checked out the Shadow Black colour variant, is one of the design touches that sets this device apart. It’s a tad heavy though and yet feels really good in the hand. A glowing S logo on the rear (when the display comes on) is a cool touch; it’s easy to imagine Keanu Reeves sport this device in the Matrix film that’s just been announced.
While you can’t step into the Matrix zone yet, a quick toggle of the textured green button on the right space transports you to what Black Shark calls Shark Space. You’re insulated from all notifications and you can activate the Gamer Studio Dock with access to gaming tweaks. There’s ludicrous mode to maximise the Black Shark 2’s gaming prowess. You don’t have to worry too much about overheating; this is an area where the device outshines many of its rivals. The phone features the Mille-Feuille Full Area Liquid Cooling System akin to the one used in high-end PC gaming rigs to reduce core temperatures.

Ultimately, gamers need an immersive screen that keeps them hooked. Colours are vibrant on the 6.39-inch TrueView Display (19.5:9 aspect ratio / 1080 x 2340 pixels). The stereo speakers augment the gaming experience even further. And then there’s the world’s lowest latency touch (43.5 ms), that worked really well during our deep dive for quick input responses in action games like PUBG. A power-packed hardware spec sheet is a given; this is, after all, a gaming device. The Black Shark 2 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor and comes in two hardware variants – 6GB/128GB (that we tested) and 12GB/256GB. The 4000 mAh battery won’t let you down; we sailed through a whole day with extensive usage.

The Black Shark 2 is kitted with a dual rear cam (48+12MP) and a 20MP front cam. Image quality didn’t disappoint in optimal light, but the lack of a dedicated Night Mode and OIS (Optical image stabilisation) impacted lowlight images. The Black Shark 2 is likely to find favour with gaming nerds, who will totally dig the design and hardware feature set. The company’s aggressive play for the Indian market (they’ve already teased us with their upcoming Black Shark 2 Pro device) is evidence that there’s room for premium niche devices, which cater to specific target groups.

The Black Shark 2 comes in Frozen Silver and Shadow Black and costs ₹39,999 (6GB/128GB) and ₹49,999 (12GB/256GB).

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