A value gaming phone well made – Phandroid
We’ve reached a point in the year where you can really start to find some really good deals now that the “last” processors are nearing end of life. A good example of this is the Xiaomi Black Shark 4, which is an interesting and intriguing version of a gaming phone. But frankly, the phone is way better than any of your “traditional” gaming phones.
After spending a few weeks with the Black Shark 4, the phone does some things very well, as well as some annoyances.
Xiaomi Black Shark 4: Specifications
|Xiaomi Black Shark 4|
|Price||$ 499 / $ 599|
|Screen size||6.67 inch|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 870|
|Storage room||128/256 GB|
|Operating system||Android 11|
|Rear camera||Triple cameras:
48MP, PDAF, f / 1.8, 0.8μm (main)
8MP, f / 2.2, 120˚ (ultra-wide)
5MP, f / 2.4, AF (macro)
|Front camera||20P, f / 2.0, 0.8μm|
|Dimensions||163.8 x 76.4 x 9.9 mm|
|Water resistance||N / A|
|Wireless charging||N / A|
|Particularities||120W fast charge, 3.5mm headphone jack, side fingerprint sensor, pop-up shoulder physical triggers, 144Hz refresh rate, 1300 nits peak brightness|
Xiaomi Black Shark 4 Review: Design and Features
Unlike other gaming phones, like the RedMagic 6 and ASUS ROG Phone 5, Xiaomi has gone for a somewhat quiet design with the Black Shark 4. You won’t find RGB anywhere (other than the screen), but you will find subtle black. Shark mark on the back.
The model we received is the Pale Gray version, and even though Xiaomi does include a plastic casing in the box, we are still grateful for it. There is another color version available with the Mirror Black, but that surely would have been a fingerprint magnet. Meanwhile, the pale gray provides a matte finish that’s comfortable to hold and doesn’t seem like it needs to be wiped off constantly.
Where the “gaming phone” aspects appear is on the right side of the phone. There are two switches placed on either side of the power button, which doubles as a fingerprint reader. But when these switches are activated, two shoulder trigger buttons emerge and snap into place.
This is by no means a new concept, but instead of going the capacitive touch route, Xiaomi has gone for physical buttons. These, together with the “Shark Space” game launcher, allow you to use buttons while playing some of your favorite games like PUBG or Call of Duty: Mobile.
Around the rest of the phone, you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom of the phone, placed next to the USB-C charging port. Another nice touch to include in a phone, and something we still only see sporadically in phones. On the left side there is nothing more to say than the volume rocker and the SIM card slot.
But the star of the show is the 6.67-inch Super AMOLED display with its 144Hz refresh rate and HDR 10+ compatibility. I don’t know if Xiaomi bought the panel from Samsung or what, but this display is absolutely stunning. Before the Black Shark 4 hit my desktop, my favorite display was the OnePlus 9 Pro. But where the Black Shark takes the cake, it’s not the faster refresh rate.
The panel is flat.
Obviously, it’s not overwhelming or anything, but it’s a big, dynamic display that’s super responsive and looks just fantastic. Whether it’s watching YouTube or certain shows on HBO Max, launching an Xbox Game Pass or Genshin Impact, everything looks crisp and clean. Plus, I don’t have to worry about accidental touches or video curling around the edges.
Xiaomi Black Shark 4 review: Performance
Whether playing games or working, the Black Shark 4 has been able to handle whatever I threw at it. The Snapdragon 870 might not have the same clock speeds as something like the Snapdragon 888, but it can certainly keep up. Obviously this is helped by the combination of RAM used (8GB in our model), but the processor is powerful enough to be more than enough for just about everything.
The Black Shark 4 has no problem with something like Call of Duty: Mobile and Dead Cells, which are optimized for just about any smartphone. However, Genshin Impact is one of the few mobile game titles that offers some flexibility in terms of performance customization.
Going through and changing the graphics settings all I did was get things up to 60fps and Genshin’s guide gave me a warning. It just lets you know if you might be pushing your phone too hard, which suggests you lower the graphics.
But after ignoring the warning and sticking to 60fps, leaving everything else as is, it was time to see how well it performed. Walking around and interacting with the surroundings was exactly as I expected – smooth. However, I noticed two things.
The first is that my phone’s temperature kept rising the longer I played. And even the simple act of sitting on an interactive screen raised the heat. The second was that in certain combat situations there were definitive frame drops. So you’ll want to proceed with some caution here, depending on what game you’re playing.
But of course everyone’s mileage can vary depending on the games they play, so we did some benchmarking tests as well:
- Geekbench processor:
- Single core: 1021
- Multi-core: 3366
- Calculate: 3697
- 3D Wild Life brand: 4347
- 3D Brand Wildlife Stress Test:
- High: 4353
- Low: 4340
- Stability: 99.7%
- PCMark: 16 453
- GFX bench:
- Manhattan (off screen): 143
- T-Rex (off screen): 233
All of these numbers might sound like a bunch of nonsense, but what it shows us is that the Black Shark 4 is working. almost as well as the flagships Snapdragon 888. And in some cases, it actually outperforms those devices. The multi-core Geekbench benchmark is one example. The Galaxy S21 Ultra scored 3,096 in our testing, while the Black Shark 4 hit 3,366.
It just shows that when it comes to comparing the Snapdragon 870 to the new Snapdragon 888, the differences are negligible. So you can get almost the same flagship performance at less than half the (retail) cost.
Xiaomi Black Shark 4 review: Battery life
Unlike other gaming phones we’ve seen released in 2021, the Black Shark 4 doesn’t try to pack a huge battery. With a 4,500 mAh cell and without playing super intensive games, this phone will easily go with you all day long. In our PC Mark battery tests, this lasted just over 10 hours, which is honestly great.
Instead, the “killer” battery function for the Black Shark 4 comes via charging. Xiaomi is currently pushing the limits of how fast a smartphone battery can charge, and this innovation has made its way into its gaming phone. The Black Shark 4 is capable of charging at speeds of up to 120W, Xiaomi claiming that you can go from 0 to 100% in “less than 17 minutes”.
However, there is a good chance that if you go out and buy this phone yourself, you will get ‘only’ the 67W fast charger. If you want the fastest possible charge, Xiaomi offers the 120W charger separately. . Unfortunately, Xiaomi’s 120W charger is not available on Amazon, but there are other options that come close to it, and truth be told, you really won’t need your smartphone to charge. this quick.
Xiaomi Black Shark 4 review: Cameras
As for the cameras, Xiaomi includes a three-camera array with a 48 MP main lens, as well as an 8 MP ultra-wide camera and a 5 MP macro sensor. And this is another area where we came out impressed, for the most part at least. Compared to recent release Pixels 5a, the Black Shark 4 just can’t keep up. But that’s okay because the Black Shark 4 isn’t designed to be used as a “normal” phone all the time.
The photos we took were, for the most part, pretty solid and really good considering the $ 500 price tag. There are several modes to choose from, including a high-resolution 48MP mode, a night mode, and even a Pro mode. Thus, you will be able to turn that “useful” image into something that really looks great. Xiaomi also includes AI enhancement, as it can determine the scene and adjust settings on the fly.
Xiaomi Black Shark 4 Review: Conclusion
I am firmly in the camp where I would like to see more Xiaomi phones available here in the US. Despite its “gaming objective”, the Black Shark 4 is just the latest example of why. The phone offers incredible value, along with solid cameras, near-flagship specs, and support for 120W fast charging. And that doesn’t even include the 144Hz AMOLED panel which is flat and has l looks fantastic.
All of this in a package priced under $ 500, and it’s definitely one of the best phones of the year. So if you’re looking for a phone that’s more powerful than what the Pixel 5a has to offer, get the Black Shark 4. You won’t be disappointed.
- Beautiful 144 Hz display
- Fast charge up to 120W
- Excellent gaming performance
- Physical shoulder buttons are retractable
- Incredible value
- Cameras could be better
- Lack of water resistance
- The battery life is correct
The bottom line
If you want a new smartphone and want a near-flagship experience without paying the flagship price, the Black Shark 4 won’t disappoint.