Black Shark 2, analysis: this mobile gaming is now close to being a real portable console

After the first BlackShark last year, the company in which Xiaomi is actively involved has just launched a new BlackShark 2 .

This new gaming smartphone comes renewed mainly in the interior, with the hope of winning not only who wants a smartphone to play but the consumer who is looking for a complete team. At Xataka we have already tried it.

BlackShark 2, technical sheet

The new BlackShark 2 can already be found in the European market at a price starting at 549 euros . It is the version with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal memory.

The “touch Xiaomi” in regard to the impressive price / quality ratio is obvious with its technical sheet:

SCREEN 6.39 inches AMOLED 1.080 x 2.340 px, 403 ppi
PROCESSOR Snapdragon 855
RAM 8/12 GB
STORAGE 128/256 GB
OS Android 9 Pie
REAR CAMERAS 12 MP f / 1.75 + 12 MP f / 2.2
DRUMS 4000 mAh + fast charge 27 W
CONNECTIVITY Wi-Fi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac, Dual WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0
OTHERS USB Type C 2.0, support aptX
DIMENSIONS 163 x 75 x 8.77 mm
PRICE From 549 euros

For those who think that these gross figures are still somewhat short, for 649 euros we can choose a real beast with 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of internal memory.

The Black Shark 2 has not renounced its identity as a gaming terminal , something that sells, but has made a series of generally quite successful tweaks. Its dimensions have been contained somewhat more, especially in thickness.

In hand that reduction of thickness is appreciated. Also the one that the rear contains less edges facilitates to transmit more comfort when using the terminal in the day to day. Despite this, the BlackShark 2 has seemed to me a phone that slips very easily from your hands if you are not careful, partly because of the elements with glass finish.

The Black Shark 2 is also a heavier phone than the average of the high range in this diagonal screen margin. The equipment goes above 200 grams and is also slightly unbalanced by a higher weight of the top.

Both weight and thickness of the Black Shark are above the average for its diagonal, but the reason is praiseworthy: a powerful cooling system to control the heat produced by a terminal to which we will demand the maximum in long periods of time

The thickness is also still somewhat greater than we would like, but we must take into account the liquid cooling system that the Black Shark 2 includes to keep controlled the temperatures of the components, which we will demand during sessions a priori more intense than those of other terminals in the market.

Despite that thickness of about 9 mm, the Black Shark 2 continues to deny a headphone port, something that as we discussed in the previous generation’s analysis, is a sacrifice in a gaming terminal is understood even less.

In addition, the improvement announced by the manufacturer on its speakers is not such, and although we have a powerful stereo sound, it lacks the quality that we would expect for its price. Distorts easily and can not boast of good serious.

The gaming touch of the Black Shark 2 is still present in the form of an “S” logo on the back that lights up when we have the active terminal (it can be activated or deactivated, as well as choosing the pattern and even the color scheme, which can be be monochromatic or polychromatic but whose final choice of tone is left to the terminal itself).

We also find some LED bands located in each side frame of the equipment. For them we can establish patterns of intermittency when illuminated. Its use is more versatile, being able to activate and configure several scenarios associated with when we play, listen to music, alarms, messaging or call entry of certain contacts.

From the physical elements of the design of the Xiaomi Black Shark 2 it is necessary to mention the button of direct access to the game mode of this phone, as well as the passage of the tray for the nano SIM to the lower part of the frame, right next to the port USB-C charging.

Finally, from the front of the Black Shark, the absence of a notch also attracts attention . Very strange in a model that arrives in full 2019.

In this terminal the upper and lower frames are kept, which leaves an extra few centimeters in the length of the phone and that the manufacturer has used to place two front speakers, but integrated as a small notch in the frames rather than in the frontal as such.

Having a considerable diagonal screen is something that a player appreciates no matter how small that gain is. In Black Shark 2 we are gaining almost half an inch from the first generation. We went from 5.99 to 6.39 inches thanks to the fingerprint reader is integrated into the screen itself.

The idea behind this reader under the screen is the same as we have already known in many other terminals in the market. But the implementation that makes this Xiaomi Black Shark 2 is somewhat remote in its behavior.

The fingerprint detection area is located in a good position and to visualize it you only have to double tap on the screen, lift the terminal or be active. For identification the system illuminates the entire screen, which produces a significant flash effect at night.

However, the operation on those test days has not convinced me too much. The detection is slower than in models like the OnePlus 6T or the recent Huawei P30 , and it has also failed me more frequently . There, the Black Shark 2 has an important margin of improvement.

The opposite happens with the facial detection system . It’s fast, really fast, but only in ideal conditions. With intense light, backlights, caps or sunglasses the identification is no longer immediate and often gives many mistakes. Regarding the insecurity of the system, I have tried with photos of myself and I have not been able to deceive the system.

The great rival of Black Shark in the market of smartphones for gaming is the Razer Phone 2 basically for its screen at 120 Hz. Many we hoped that this new Black Shark 2 will debut a panel with similar characteristics or at least one of 90 Hz as it has the ROG Phone ASUS . But for now it does not seem the priority of the company invested by Xiaomi.

The screen of the Black Shark 2 maintains 60 fps although it brings new features that compensate in part that does not jump to more frequency of refreshment.

To begin with, we have to talk about a panel that happens to be AMOLED , manufactured by Samsung and with a diagonal of 6.39 inches. With an aspect ratio of 19.5: 9, it offers a resolution of 1080×2340 pixels .

These figures lead us to a density of 400 ppi , well below the reference panels of the market, but an a priori interesting commitment if the efforts that arrive in other aspects of the panel offer us a satisfactory experience.

The panel has a very high brightness , which should be kept always managed by the automatic brightness control system, although we have not finished happy with it. It is not the fastest in the market but also maintains the level of brightness both indoors and outdoors below what is comfortable and adequate. On more occasions than we would like, we must pull manual adjustment to have a satisfactory experience.

In game mode, which we will discuss later in detail, we can block that automatic brightness adjustment. Outdoors, the AMOLED panel of Black Shark 2 meets without further ado. It is visible even in bright light, but it has room for improvement.

The screen, which supports HDR conversion when playing video , offers a balance in almost all sections related to image quality, from color reproduction to viewing angles.

Black Shark supports a series of customizations of the screen experience. We can configure a cinema mode, which is the default and recommended by us, a natural one (something less saturated) and a third one called ocular care (blue light filtering). In all three the tone can be varied to warmer or colder .

Other settings on the screen have to do with the night light mode, the ambient screen (you can only decide if you want the screen to be activated with new notifications or not) and the HDR Video or Supercinema Mode settings. In the case of HDR mode, I do not advise anything. The videos are very unnatural and the reproduction of color loses all fidelity.

Black Shark 2’s emphasis on the screen is on the tactile response side. Raising the panel’s sampling frequency to 240 Hz they say that they have reduced the panel’s latency to below 44 ms. Effectively the response of the Black Shark 2 panel is very fast and accurate , but nothing different from what we experienced in terminals of this price.

Another trick that adds the Black Shark 2 to its screen is the Master Touch , a kind of zones sensitive to different pressures which we can regulate and that, depending on the compatible game, we can associate with a specific function. For now there are not many who admit it or the utility that they give it. In fact, the answer is somewhat coarse and with a strange feeling. Much better implemented is the vibration motor for when we are playing .

In a terminal level it is evident that the user expects a power advance from year to year. Imagine in a smartphone whose objective is to convince us to play with him in a serious way.

The Black Shark 2 complies with that maxim and in its internal configuration takes a strong step forward. Not only is the powerful state-of-the-art Snapdragon 855 installed, it also improves RAM up to 8 and even 12 GB , depending on the configuration.For storage we start with an internal memory of 128 GB , but we have versions with 256 GB. In this type of devices where we are going to want to install level games and with a very considerable internal memory space, having at least 128 GB of internal memory is essential.

The model that we have tested in Engadget stays at 8 GB of RAM, and despite this, it offers one of the best performances at present:

There are no concessions at the level of fluidity of the system, practically native, in the day to day nor when we want to play and that the terminal offers the maximum possible.

As impressive as the performance is the cooling system , critical in a gaming terminal. The requirement to which we are expected to submit to the internal components of the equipment requires these efforts that other manufacturers such as ASUS are also implementing in their smartphones to play.

The Black Shark system is an evolution of the one that was part of last year’s model. It has a large cooling plate that covers all the internal components of the smartphone, which provides direct contact and coverage with liquid refrigerant .

That effort is transferred directly to the user experience. The sessions of several hours of play effectively raise the temperature of the components and the terminal itself, but the Black Shark 2 is perfectly manageable, has not suffered from stoppages and should not be feared for it.

Even in very intense tests with download of more than 10 GB of data in the background while playing at very demanding titles, we appreciated the heating of the casing at the top but far from what any other phone in the same circumstances would have been probably critical .

The critical point of having a smartphone in hand where what we are looking for in the first place is to be able to squeeze as much as possible its gross power is logically the battery.

When in a team we try to reduce the consumption, the performance is usually of the parameters that are limited enough. To avoid this scenario as much as possible, the BlackShark 2 uses a considerable battery capacity ( 4000 mAh ) although nothing unusual for its screen size and diagonal.