Black Shark 4 Pro hands-on: serious gaming phone for serious gamers (10% off code inside)
Black Shark has finally launched the Black Shark 4 Pro worldwide and you can get yours now for just $521 with our special code below! Also, Black Shark was kind enough to send us a 4 Pro so we could hang out with it!
Smartphones for gamers is a small niche that is still a little undefined. After all, given that most Android flagships have roughly the same specs, what makes this phone better for gaming than this phone? Design? Additional hardware or software features? Compatible accessories?
Well, yes, all of the above. Gaming phones differentiate themselves by giving you tools that make it easier and more enjoyable to… well, play games.
The Black Shark 4 Pro has that slightly exaggerated aggressive gaming look, but in a very subtle way. The matte glass back reveals an X-shaped pattern underneath, and there’s a small RGB light on the back, which you can customize or keep completely off.
The phone mostly feels like a regular daily driver, which I appreciate – it doesn’t try to be too flashy and cross into scared territory.
Where the Black Shark 4 Pro really shines is with its gaming shoulder buttons – full hardware keys with an actual click that give the smartphone a very “mobile console” feel.
Both buttons are hidden inside the body of the phone, flush with it. When it’s time to shoot, you flip a few sliders and the shutters pop out with a satisfying sound effect.
We’ve seen plenty of smartphones with pressure-sensitive shoulder buttons. But these are on another level here – having real click buttons feels instantly at home for anyone looking for a console-like experience. I don’t know how well they’ll fare in the long run, but they definitely work and feel great right now.
Additionally, I would like to commend the attention to detail in the design of the Black Shark 4 Pro. You see, it has two side stereo speakers. The two speaker grilles are positioned so that when I play, I don’t block them with my palms or fingers. It just seems too perfectly placed to be a coincidence.
Shoulder triggers aren’t the only additional hardware controls we have here. The Black Shark 4 Pro also incorporates a pressure-sensitive screen quite cleverly.
The feature is called “Magic Touch”. We have two pressure-sensitive areas on the screen – basically, the left and right halves. You can set the amount of force they respond to and you can map their functions. When you’re gaming, you usually have both thumbs on the screen, right? With Magic Touch, pressing either will trigger a custom command. So basically you have a total of 4 buttons at your fingertips – the shoulder triggers and the pressure activated screen.
Black Shark 4 Pro display and speakers
Of course, a gaming phone has to have an excessive refresh rate and the Black Shark 4 Pro offers a 144Hz display. The touch sampling rate is 720Hz, making it one of the fastest touchscreens market reagents, exactly what gamers want.
It’s a Super AMOLED panel that comes with super saturated colors out of the box, but luckily there’s a “Standard” mode that allowed me to tame the colors and bring some white balance hotter. The resolution is 1080 x 2400 pixels spread over a diagonal of 6.67 inches. So it’s not super sharp, but the pixel-per-inch density is 395, which is perfectly fine.
I’ve mentioned the stereo speakers before – they’re both sideways, presumably because that position allowed for a meatier, more balanced sound. And yes, they sound pretty good. The bass isn’t super deep, but it’s audible. There’s a slight bark from the upper mids, like in most phones with small speakers, but it’s not terribly harsh here.
Also, you may have noticed a shocking hole in the pictures – yes, this phone has a headphone jack! Sadly not positioned to be super ergonomic if you’re playing with headphones, but hey, it’s 2022 – glad we got one of these in the first place.
Additional software and features
The Black Shark software is very much based on Xiaomi’s MIUI. Interestingly, here we have some toggles – we can make the notification tint to be “Android style” or use Xiaomi MIUI style entirely.
But the core apps – weather, clock, gallery and camera – are all taken from MIUI – an interface known for its very fluid and immaculate style with large transparent elements, rounded corners, smooth animations and pleasing graphics.
There are, of course, a few additional features tailored to Black Shark’s specific gaming objective. The “Shark Space” hub will house all of your games and essentially transition to a more mobile console-like UI. It also automatically clears memory and tunes phone hardware as soon as you start a game.
If you want to dig deeper into Shark Space’s settings, you’ll find that you can fine-tune the phone’s performance profile, block notifications and calls during gameplay, configure macros, and tinker with other information. In my experience, the default settings work just fine, although I did go deep into customizing how my buttons and Magic Touch worked.
The cameras are a 64 MP main shooter, an 8 MP ultra-wide camera and a 5 MP macro camera. On the front, there is a 20 MP selfie camera. The camera app lets you play with different modes – Portrait, Pro, and a Vlog mode, which quickly creates short clips with various filters synced to a preset music beat.
The Black Shark 4 Pro has a fairly modest 4,500 mAh battery. But it comes with a huge charging brick in the box – 120 Watts! That’s a laptop charger right there.
According to the manufacturer’s claims, you can recover 50% power in just 5 minutes and 100% in 15 minutes. The phone heats up when charged, but there is a toggle in the settings, which will intelligently limit charging to control the temperature. I suggest keeping this on for longer battery life. The phone still charges very, very fast.
The Black Shark 4 Pro is finally making its way to western markets and you can buy one from today, March 1, via Amazon or the official Black Shark website! Prices start from $579 / €579 / £489, but you can use our special 10% promo code during this launch period.
A really good deal for what you get – Snapdragon 888, 8GB of RAM (base), 256GB of storage (base), an excellent 144Hz AMOLED display, very good speakers and impressive hardware controls for gaming .
The camera is decent, considering that’s not even the focus or strength of this phone. Of course, when you buy the Black Shark 4 Pro, you’re getting a great mobile gaming kit that also happens to be a solid smartphone.
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