In November 2017, Razer made waves in the press with their first mobile phone aimed at gamers, called the Razer Phone. It was an interesting concept for their first attempt – a high-end phone with features and specifications that wouldn’t seem amiss on some high-end gaming notebooks, including the addition of a 120Hz display and FreeSync-like features to smooth out the gaming experience. Xiaomi, well-known for their mobile prowess over the last few years, has now put up their own competitor to the Razer Phone called the Black Shark. And it looks, well… kind of gamer-ey.
According to Xiaomi, the Black Shark is the result of close collaboration with Qualcomm on the Snapdragon 845 platform, Qualcomm’s fastest to date. The Black Shark is a 5.99-inch phablet with an 18:9 aspect ratio, using an IPS display that covers 97% of the DCI-P3 colour space, which means it’s ready to support HDR imaging. The front of the Black Shark is dominated by the display, the physical Home button, and the front speaker with a 20MP camera located on the left-hand side.
Internally, it is running Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset with an Adreno 630 GPU. The 845 platform features eight cores, four of which are running at 2.8GHz, with the other four running at 1.8GHz speeds for low-power workloads. The 845 is cooled by a small aluminium heatsink with a vapour chamber running the length of the heatsink. It’s not unusual for Qualcomm’s high-end platforms to get this kind of cooling, but it does mean that smartphones which do not put as much effort into cooling the 845 will run into performance and throttling issues. Powering all of this is a 4000mAh battery with support for Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 3.0 standard.
For storage there’s a choice of 64GB or 128GB models, which you’re limited to because the Black Shark does not have a SD slot for expansion. The two models also ship with 6GB and 8GB of RAM respectively, more than what most Android handsets will ever need. By default it’ll ship with Android 8.0 Oreo and Xiaomi’s JOY UI, a custom launcher that is derived from their standard MIUI seen on their other handsets. Xiaomi is also implementing a dual-camera setup on the back of the phone with a 12MP camera for capturing stills and video, with the second 20MP camera used for depth sending and colour accuracy, as well as providing 2X optical zoom. For the audio-focused among you, there’s also a potential deal-breaker in the form of a USB-C connector instead of a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Further adding to the gaming cred, Xiaomi is also equipping the Black Shark with some JoyCon-like controls of its own. The Black Shark Gamepad attaches to the side of the device and gives you an analogue stick through Bluetooth. The Black Shark will go on sale first in China, starting at approximately $470 for the 6GB/64GB version and moving up to around $550 for the 8GB/128GB model. Two colours will be available, namely Polar Night Black or Sky Gray, and the Gamepad will be sold separately for around $30.
Hopefully we’ll get to see the Black Shark locally available through Xiaomi’s official Africa store when it moves to other regions later in the year.