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Smartphones aimed at gamers are specialized to meet mobile gamers’ particular wants and needs. And these may be a little bit extreme from the perspective of a regular user. 

Mobile gamers want — demand — devices that feature the utmost in mobile processing and which can be run hard and fast with no lag or stutter or drop in performance. They lust after devices with large screens with high refresh rates for snappy responsiveness. They desire devices with powerful batteries because stopping to recharge one’s phone really cramps their style. And so on and so forth.

There are only a few phones that can qualify as bona fide gaming phones that can take heavy gaming, including this one we’re looking at today. The Xiaomi Black Shark 2 Pro is an update of the first Black Shark, which wowed reviewers when it debuted in 2018 thanks to its performance, battery life, and other factors, as well as its successor the Black Shark 2. 

Now join us as we have a look at this new Black Shark, which dropped in late 2019, to see if it’s got what it takes to take the place of its predecessor, in an ever more competitive segment.

It looks the part

As with the first Black Shark, Xiaomi pulled out all the stops to distinguish this new smartphone as a gaming phone, even at first glance.

We think the company nailed it. The Black Shark 2 Pro really does look the part of a gaming phone. From the front you might be able to mistake it for any other large-screened smartphone, but turn it over and you’ll realize your mistake instantly, thanks to its racy space-age styling and RGB lighting. The Shadow Black variant flashes green, whereas the Iceberg Gray and Gulf Blue variants flash blue. (The back panel is now covered with more glass than metal so the lights can be even more prominent.)

The phone boasts a 6.39-inch FHD+ AMOLED display which Xiaomi says has a 240Hz touch response rate and 34.7ms latency time – both of which mean that the display is extremely fast and responsive and gamers will be happy that their games are refreshing as rapidly as possible. There’s also an in-display fingerprint scanner.

We’re impressed at how Xiaomi has sweated the details. For instance: the Black Shark 2 Pro has two small flat surfaces, ledges, upon which gamers can latch their fingers for extra grip. These ledges, along with the non-slippery material of the case itself, significantly help reduce the chance of this phone slipping out of one’s hands during particularly exuberant gaming sessions. 

And you can even set the RGB lights to pulse differently to notify you when different people call, when different apps send you notifications, or when you’re playing music.

It’s a gaming dreadnought

Of course a gaming phone needs to be able to provide maximum performance, and again Xiaomi has done its best to deliver this with the Black Shark 2 Pro.

The firm has seen fit to drop in a 2.96 Snapdragon 855 octacore processor — along with a whopping 8GB or 12GB of RAM, this is envisioned to provide a staggering amount of power so that even the most challenging games can run snappily and without stuttering. 

There is also Xiaomi’s Liquid Cooling 3.0 feature to ensure that the phone doesn’t run too hot even if its user really puts it through its paces. Additionally, the firm also dropped in a relatively large battery (4,000mAh) as well as quick charging support so that the games don’t have to stop for too long in order for gamers to juice up.

 

The storage isn’t expandable, but it is considerable; either 128GB or 256GB is there for the choosing. The phone also does feature dual front stereo speakers (but please be considerate when gaming in public so you don’t bother other people).

 

There is a toggle button that allows you to enter the so-called “Shark Space” which is a sort of arcade mode that closes background processes, mutes calls and messages, and takes you to a menu where only games can be viewed. 

Also, a touchscreen feature called Master Touch 2.0 allows users to resize touch zones — where you touch the phone during gaming — and change pressure-sensing values too. This is so you can tell the phone exactly how much pressure you want to apply per certain games, whether one needs a feathery touch and another requires you to practically stomp on the screen. 

We can attest to the Black Shark 2 Pro’s awesome performance. Games like Call of Duty: Mobile and PUBG Mobile ran super smoothly on our test unit, more smoothly than on many others we tried them on, and the generous battery really held up. An hour of mobile gaming drained the battery by only a modest amount, but a couple hours of particularly spirited gameplay did manage to drain the battery a little bit more. Either way, we still did have enough charge to get us through the rest of the day.

And even after particularly spirited gaming sessions, the phone never ran hot or even warm, which we took as a good sign that the cooling system worked well.

Oh, and you might be wondering about the cameras. No need to fret — although imaging might not be a priority, Xiaomi still saw fit to equip this phone with a 20MP front camera and a dual-lens main snapper set: 48MP + 12MP. Both performed decently, taking pretty good pictures and video. Hardly anything to sniff at.

The verdict

The Black Shark 2 Pro isn’t for everyone – it’s really geared towards the serious mobile gamer who wants a top-of-the-line device on which he or she can play his or her games of choice. And this phone definitely does deliver; it wields its tech specs to the hilt and looks good doing it, too. Make a beeline for this phone and take it for a spin to see exactly what we mean.

 

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