There’s little doubt that gaming will be the next Netflix-type phenomenon. Everyone from Google to Apple will be making a play as 5G speeds and improved hardware will pave the way for online gaming on devices without content having to reside on our smartphones. In 2017 Black Shark came into the being as a gaming technology company, one driven by hardware engineers and gamers alike. The Xiaomi backed brand has been teasing India for a while but finally arrived with the Black Shark 2, the first device you can officially buy in India. Gamers are probably excited at this move and also the company’s upcoming Black Shark 2 Pro. This euphoria is not without reason.
At a time when boardrooms, work floors and pubs are saturated with people flaunting their new iPhone or groovy all-glass Android flagships, the design language of the Black Shark 2 is a welcome relief. We rarely use words like unique or distinctive to describe smartphones anymore. It’s a gorgeous blend of metal and glass, that plays out particularly well in the Shadow Black colour variant. This might be the kind of device you spot on the sets of Black Mirror and the glowing S logo on the rear (when the display is turned on) adds to its appeal. It’s heavy and yet feels good in your hands; the transparent back case (bundled in the box) doesn’t mask the device too much. It looks good with this case on too.
Toggle the textured green button on the right spine and you’re transported to Shark Space. This is pure paradise for gamers. You’re cut off from all notifications and in your gaming zone. A quick diagonal swipe within a game activates the Gamer Studio dock. This gives you access to heaps of gaming tools including performance, audio and touch settings. You can turn on ludicrous mode to max out on the device’s gaming prowess. One of the first things that impressed me was the cooling system – the Black Shark 2 is kitted with the Mille-Feuille Full Area Liquid Cooling System. It’s the same used to reduce core temperatures in high-end PC gaming rigs (up to 14°C according to Black Shark).
The Black Shark 2 is propelled by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor. Our review unit featured 6GB of RAM and 128GB of Internal memory (there’s no extendable memory option). There’s also a 12GB/256GB variant. I pushed this device through multiple gaming sessions on Asphalt 9 and PUBG. The low latency (43.5 ms), the lowest in the world according to Black Shark worked really well for quick input responses in PUBG. If you want to take the gaming experience further, consider the Black Shark 2.0 gamepad (sold separately) that complements the device as a console controller. The hardware spec sheet is formidable, the device aced our AnTuTu benchmark test with a formidable 296075 score.
The entertainment creds get a boost with a 6.39-inch TrueView Display (19.5:9 aspect ratio / 1080 x 2340 pixels). Colours are vivid and while there’s no 3.5 mm headphone jack, the stereo speakers offer some serious thump. The Black Shark 2 comes with a dual rear cam (48+12MP) and a 20MP front cam. OIS (Optical image stabilization) is a surprise omission. Image and video results were great in optimal light, but lowlight images suffered from the lack of a dedicated Night Mode that is becoming standard fare in devices at this price point. The 4000 mAh battery is a win though. I finished the day with about 20% even after 45 minutes of gaming and a full day of calls, data and camera usage. Serious gamers may not find too many better alternatives to the Black Shark 2 that sticks to a minimalist user interface (no bloatware thankfully), and optimises its hardware for a fun gaming experience. But if you’re looking beyond gaming and good looks, you will be spoilt for choice in this price band.
The Black Shark 2 comes in Frozen Silver and Shadow Black and costs Rs 39,999 (6GB/128GB) / Rs 49,999 (12GB/256GB)