With Black Shark 2 is now available to buy in the UK, the gaming-focused smartphone is a solid improvement over the original Black Shark, with improved internals, an updated design and a range of new technologies to enhance the gaming experience.
Prices and availability
The Black Shark 2 is officially available to purchase from the Black Shark website in the UK and Europe but is currently not available in the US. The basic model of the Black Shark 2 comes with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage and brings you back to £479 / €549. Those who are interested in something more impressive can opt for the high-end 12GB / 256GB combination for £559 / €649, although it is not yet available in the UK just yet.
Custom made for gaming
The Black Shark 2 was designed by gamers for gamers, and that can be seen in almost every aspect of the smartphone. In addition to packing internals at flagship level with a Qualcomm 855 processor and 8 or 12 GB RAM, the smartphone packs a number of ‘firsts’. The smartphone is one of the first in the world to implement a direct touch liquid cooling system in a handheld, and in addition to other cooling functions bundled in what Black Shark calls ‘Liquid Cooling 3.0’, the system must keep the smartphone cool during those intense gambling sessions.
Those are not all Black Shark 2 characteristics; the company claims it is the first to implement a standalone Digital Signal Processing (DSP) chip in a smartphone, which offers a number of benefits, including impressive response times. The 240 Hz touch report rate of the screen lowers latency to around 43.5ms, compared to around 60ms in the iPhone XS, which should translate into faster response times during those crucial in-game moments.
The display also includes Master Touch technology that allows the display to measure pressure in four special areas to provide additional functionality when playing games.
Just like the original, the Black Shark 2 has a special game space with the nickname Shark Space. The mode is activated by a physical switch on the side of the smartphone and offers an area that differs from the standard Android operating system and allows you to browse and play through your favourite games. It is also where you can enable the appropriate Ludicrous mode of the smartphone, a mode that allows the smartphone to use 100 per cent of the CPU power running at 2.84 GHz.
The Black Shark 2 has certainly done well by playing a PUBG Mobile game at the highest possible settings.
Black Shark has also launched a number of optional accessories for the Black Shark 2 to further enhance the gaming experience, including £ 79.90 Switch-like controllers with an analog joystick and touch-sensitive pad, as well as a special cooling cassette that offers a combination of fans and liquid cooling to cool the smartphone to 10 degrees Celsius within 10 seconds.
The Black Shark 2 has hints of the original Black Shark present, but we think the updated design is a comprehensive improvement that not only improves the appearance, but also the functionality of the smartphone. It is slimmer than the original with 163.6 x 75 x 8.8 mm and although it weighs a little more with 205 g, we love the solid feeling in our hands. It has a metal frame with a beautiful mix of glass and metal at the back and is now not only available in the standard Black, but also in Frozen Silver and Glory Blue.
There is also an RGB strip on the smartphone because, you know, gaming phone.
The Black Shark 2 features an almost 19.5: 9 6.39 inch AMOLED screen (1080 x 2340) with no notch to get in the way of obstacles while gaming, bringing the appearance closer to other flagship smartphones and other game phones look a bit dated a bit. The display is also equipped with DC Professional Light Dimming, which virtually eliminates the flickering that you see when filming smartphone screens and that makes your eyes feel more comfortable during prolonged use.
The biggest improvement in the design is in the antenna department. Most smartphones experience some form of interference when they are held horizontally during gaming since your hands cover most built-in antennas. Black Shark has solved this problem by implementing its own X + 2 antenna array in the Black Shark 2, which the company claims should solve all connectivity issues, regardless of how the smartphone is held.
The Black Shark 2 has an improved dual camera set-up at the rear, which offers a standard 48-megapixel lens with f / 1.8 in addition to a 12Mp 2x telephoto lens for sharp close-ups. There is also an AI recording mode on other smartphones that automatically analyzes the scene and adjusts the settings for the optimum image. The Black Shark 2 launch event was dark with hard spotlights, so not the best place to test a camera, but the first tests seem promising.
On the other hand, you’ll find a 20 MP front camera with HDR support and improved low-light performance compared to the original Black Shark, which should be good enough for selfie-take and video calling.
The Black Shark 2 has a built-in fingerprint scanner, although it is unclear whether it is safe enough to be used for payment verification – we do not expect that, but we will soon discover that. It also has an unimaginable 4000 mAh battery to help you through long game sessions without a charger. If a top-up is required, the 27W USB-C fast charger must free you from the wall quickly.
I’m very impressed with the Black Shark 2 gamers can offer, with impressive specifications, innovative gaming-focused technology and a very affordable price tag.
- 163.6 x 75 x 8.8 mm
- Dual SIM
- 6.39 inch AMOLED display (19.5: 9 aspect ratio)
- 1080 x 2340
- Snapdragon 855
- 8 or 12 GB RAM
- 128 or 256 GB storage space
- Dual camera settings (48 MP + 12 MP)
- 20 MP camera on the front
- Android 9.0
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Dual-band WiFi
- In-display fingerprint reader
- 4000 mAh battery
- 27W fast charging
- Snapdragon 855
- Good storage options
- AMOLED screen
- No NFC
- No IP rating
Black Shark 2 uses stock Android for its software. Swipe up and you’ll bring up the apps drawer, so you can access the likes of Facebook, Twitter and your emails. Of course, you can also drag your favourite apps to the home screen for easy access. It’s all very simple to navigate, while also providing sufficient customisation options for you to personalise your setup. Black Shark 2 is the ultimate gaming smartphone, loaded with features and offering a super-powered performance, even non-gamers will get great value for money at this low price, but let down with no NFC like the original Black Shark.