The Pro version of the Black Shark 4 has arrived in our hands and has been available for sale in Europe since February 25, 2022. On the program is a gamer phone that brings significant advantages compared to the competition. At the top of the list, two magnetic physical triggers (left and right) to get closer to the handling of a gamepad during your gaming sessions. A screen, sensitive to pressure, of 144Hz and with a touch sampling rate of 720Hz. A personalized interface is also present, allowing you to deeply customize various parameters related to the game and create macros. Also, as we know, using the games puts heavy demands on the smartphone battery. To overcome this problem, the brand has equipped its new mobile with an amazing ultra-fast charge of… 120W!
In this test, we are going to review this new high-end smartphone dedicated to gaming and observe in detail the additions that have been made to a classic phone, as well as the advantages and disadvantages that could result from it… let’s go!
- Black Shark 4 Pro: Unboxing and Accessories
- Black Shark 4 Pro: Design
- Black Shark 4 Pro: User Experience
- Black Shark 4 Pro: Back to the triggers
- Black Shark 4 Pro: Technical sheet and performance
- Black Shark 4 Pro: Autonomy and fast charging at 120W
- Black Shark 4 Pro: Our review
Black Shark 4 Pro: Unboxing and Accessories
The Black Shark 4 Pro comes in a slightly bigger box than what we’re used to seeing from the competition. We feel, from the design of the packaging, that the brand wants to display more sobriety (little color and minimalist design), however the logo with RGB reflections on the front face, contrasts completely with the rest. As if the sticker had been put on at the last moment. We can see in this regard, on the left side, a much more sober Black Shark logo. We will observe later in the test this exterior image of a gaming smartphone which is intended to be more discreet.
From the box containing the smartphone, you will also find the following elements:
- Hard case in black color
- SIM ejector
- Short documentation (SIM set-up and legal information
- 3 stickers
- 120W fast charger
- USB-C cable
Black Shark 4 Pro: Design
Over the past three or four years we’ve seen a lot of gaming phones released, but one of the trends we’re happy to see over this time is refinement in design. As fun and exciting as some of those early models were with their angular bezels and RGB lighting, the new models are a bit more subtle. Thus, they are not necessarily aimed at gamers, per se.
We got our hands on the blue variant of the device and it is a real eye-catcher. The back of the Black Shark 4 Pro is sketchy and completely smooth and there are no unnecessary protrusions. However, there are patterns printed on the back of the device which indicate that this is not an “ordinary” smartphone. As you can see in the two photos below, these react according to the light and your viewing angle. The effect is very pleasing to the eye without going overboard. A success at this level.
And, while it’s more subtle, you still get RGB lighting in the form of a glowing triangular logo on the rear, located just below the camera lens unit.
At the bottom of the phone, you’ll find a microphone, a 3.5mm headphone jack as well as a USB-C port and one of the phone’s two speakers.
On the right side of the device, we find the power button right in the middle. You will see that the magnetic physical triggers are also located here, at the end of the edges, along with their switch to release them.
On the opposite left side, you’ll find the SIM card tray as well as the volume rockers.
As for the top of the phone, there is the secondary speaker as well as a secondary microphone.
The triple lens layout is located in the upper middle part of the rear, arranged horizontally.
The triangular RGB lighting located just under the rear cameras that we mentioned above is customizable. You can display different colors and patterns when playing games, receiving calls, etc. In addition to its design side, it is a useful feature when the phone is turned over, screen facing the desk, to be alerted precisely of a notification.
As you’d expect from a gaming device, it’s not the thinnest phone out there. It’s wider and thicker than a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and bigger and thicker than an iPhone 13 Pro Max. It is a device with a less thin appearance, but note that it is lighter than the two devices mentioned.
Black Shark 4 Pro: User Experience
The Black Shark 4 Pro has undergone a massive redesign where it now looks like a real smartphone on the outside and inside, especially when compared to older models like the Black Shark 2 Pro.
This new model uses a Samsung E4 AMOLED panel and it is certainly more than enough to enjoy the content. The experience is further improved and now sports a refresh rate of 144Hz and a touch sampling rate of 720Hz, which makes the whole journey of use smoother.
With a peak brightness of 1300 nits, the screen is among the brightest on the market, which results in a very lively and dynamic picture, whether you’re playing games or watching your favorite shows on Netflix. It’s not the most natural-looking screen we’ve ever used, but it’s not so oversaturated as to spoil the experience. It packs a punch, with deep contrast and very dark black levels.
A quick look in the display settings menu reveals that you can customize this color balance. There’s an ‘Auto’ mode that adapts the colors to your surroundings, while the ‘Standard’ mode offers a more muted and natural profile than the default ‘Saturated’ mode. Plus, because it’s a completely flat surface, there’s no distortion or weird aberrations near the edges.
As for the dual speakers, I can say that they impressed me. They are located on either side of the screen which further enhances the experience. The sound is strong, the bass and mids are well reinforced, with a fullness and nice stereo separation that you don’t usually get on a phone. You have the impression of being immersed in the sound, a feeling further reinforced by the fact that it is not cramped. It’s one of the best mobile audio systems we’ve tested so far, quite a feat.
As you will have understood, this model is an excellent multimedia device. The combination of a large, bright screen and powerful, immersive speakers, plus the option of wired headphones, gives you virtually everything you need to get the most out of any movie, game or TV show.
Regarding the temperatures of the Black Shark 4 Pro, these remain, despite intensive use, under control. Games like COD Mobile and PUBG Mobile ran smoothly. So I took the lead and tested the mobile on the most demanding game (for a smartphone), namely Genshin impact. After setting the game to the highest possible settings and the recorded temperature was around 42°C after 20 minutes of play.
It’s pretty impressive to be honest. The “Sandwich” liquid cooling system used by the Black Shark certainly plays its part. Heat seems to be transferred to the metal sides of the device, which is why it’s able to maintain good temperatures.
The phone comes pre-installed with Shark Space 4.0, their own app that allows you to customize your experience with the smartphone in games. You will find very interesting and very advanced parameters that you can modify, such as performance, refresh rate, hunting mode (inverted colors to facilitate the detection of hidden enemies), gyroscope and touch sensitivity, sampling rate , anti-error touch edges, “GameDTS” or “LowLatency” audio, a voice changer, an equalizer, vibration feedback, etc. You can also prioritize 5G or 4G networks, limit background traffic, prioritized game data, reduce switching time between WLAN and cellular networks, as well as reduce Wi-Fi latency. It’s hard to get more comprehensive,
All its options are well targeted, arranged and really appreciable, the only thing I would criticize is the French translation which can still be improved.
The phone sports JOYUI 12 as a skin, which is based on Xiaomi’s MIUI 12.5. The interface is simple to use, fluid, accomplished and there is no feeling of slowness.
Regarding the photo part, it’s not a surprise, it was not the priority development point of the smartphone, but the whole is correct and will be sufficient for most people.
This Black Shark has three cameras including a 64MP main camera, an 8MP wide-angle lens and a 5MP macro camera. Overall, the lenses provide a decent shot. However, as often, the main camera is much better than the other two.
If you use the main camera in daylight, you’ll get sharp images, with good depth and detail as well as a good balance between highlights and shadows. The image is sometimes a little too saturated, especially for green colors. But it’s certainly good enough to take photos on the rare occasion you need it.
Switch to ultra-wide view, which is unusually accessed by touching an ultra-wide icon at the bottom of the screen – and images lose some of their sharpness and also distort at their edges.
In many ways, it feels like having a mid-range camera in the body of a mighty flagship. It’s quite logical: after all, it’s not a particularly expensive phone, we had to make compromises to keep the price reasonable.
Black Shark 4 Pro: Back to the triggers
While typical flagship phones tend to adopt a sleek, minimalist design at the expense of some practical features, dedicated gaming devices tend to be the opposite. One of the additions that makes the biggest difference for in-game use are Black Shark’s “Master Triggers”. These are small physical buttons that eject from the side of the phone and are located on the device similar to the triggers on a gamepad. There are two of them and they replace the usual touch panels that are often built into the ends of gaming phones.
The physical triggers use a magnetic mechanism that pops them out when you slide the buttons on top. When you take them out or close them, a reload sound will play. Although I personally enjoy them during my gaming sessions, I think they could still improve them by making the travel distance shorter.
You can also use Black Shark’s gaming software to associate them with specific functions. Thus, in Call of Duty Mobile, for example, the left trigger is designated to launch the aiming function, the right to fire. This allows you to aim and shoot much faster, without having to place your fingers on the screen. It’s a very nice touch function, even if it almost feels like cheating during a multiplayer game.
When you’re not gaming, you can program these triggers to launch a number of dedicated functions. By default, the top or left button takes a screenshot. But you can ask it to start a screen recording, activate the flashlight, activate one-handed mode, or skip forward or backward through the music. They are also customizable, so you can define functions for each application.
There’s only one real problem with these physical buttons: they’re pretty easy to accidentally pop out. There were several times when we took the phone out of our pocket and found that one of the buttons was out. However, if one of them remains in this state for a while, a small message will appear on the screen to remind you to put it back in place.
It’s not the only element that’s easy to activate accidentally: there’s also the fingerprint sensor. It’s built into the frame of the phone, on the right side, and we often felt the phone vibrate when the skin of our palm brushed against it, registering a failed read. Other times, the opposite happened: accidentally unlocking the phone. It’s certainly not as easy to do as on some models in Sony’s Xperia range, as the fingerprint is more recessed, and it didn’t happen often enough for us to have to use our PIN to connect us. In addition, the use of the hull supplied with the phone will partially correct these problems.
Black Shark 4 Pro: Technical sheet and performance
|CPU||Snapdragon 888 , 5nm FinFET|
1 x Cortex-X1 @ 2.84 GHz + 3 x Cortex-A78 @ 2.42 GHz + 4 x Cortex-A55 @ 1.80 GHz
|Screen||6.67″ FHD+ (2400 x 1080) AMOLED, 144Hz refresh rate, HDR10+|
|Audio||Two speakers, DTS Ultra X|
|Camera||64MP f/1.8 main camera,|
8MP f/2.2 PDAF, 120-degree ultra-wide
5MP f/2.4, macro,
AF AI camera, Auto HDR, Pro mode, Portrait, Beauty, Panorama
|Selfie camera||20MP f/2.5 selfie camera|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, Wi-Fi 6|
USB Type-C 2.0
3.5mm headphone jack
|Software||JOYUI 12 based on MIUI 12.5|
120W fast charge
|Dimensions||163,8 x 76,4 x 9,9 mm|
Reading these specs, experts will have noticed that this isn’t the latest and greatest in-car tech by 2022 standards. The combination of a Snapdragon 888 backed by 8-12GB of LPDDR5 RAM offers however, a solid high-end gaming experience that is maintained over long periods of time thanks to the brand’s developed “sandwich” liquid cooling system.
This configuration is certainly more than enough for current mobile games, and even the most demanding triple-A titles like Genshin Impact, Call of Duty Mobile or PUBG Mobile. These work smoothly with the highest graphics settings and additional options enabled. As you might expect, the smartphone is also just as smooth and shows no signs of faltering when it comes to using the camera, scrolling through Twitter, Instagram and all common day-to-day uses.
The problem is that with the Snapdragon 888 Plus upgrade available and phones powered by the next-gen Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, the Black Shark 4 Pro’s Snapdragon 888 chipset might start to take a hit more quickly. It doesn’t make a difference at this time, but it’s always a point to note when releasing a product on the market versus the current chip generation.
Let’s put this last point into perspective though as this gaming phone is able to outperform most other smartphones equipped with the same Snapdragon 888 in both CPU and GPU benchmark tests. Black Shark seems to have done a very good job of fully utilizing all the power allowed by this chipset as can be seen with this AnTuTu score:
On 3DMark the WILD Life test indicates that the Black Shark 4 Pro is 89% faster than all the other smartphones tested including the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G equipped with Exynos 2100:
With the results of the Geekbench benchmarks in single-core and multi-core, as well as PC Mark, here again the results are very satisfactory:
Ultimately, even if the processor on board this Black Shark is not of the latest generation, it does not have to be ashamed of its performance and it will be very complicated to row it in practical use.
Black Shark 4 Pro: Autonomy and fast charging at 120W
When it comes to performance and battery, it’s rare to want to jump at the chance to marvel at a phone’s charging speeds. But in the case of the Black Shark 4 Pro, that’s where we’re headed first, because… It’s jaw-dropping.
- With the supplied 120W charger, 25% charge is achieved in just 2min 35!
- To charge the battery to 50%, a very short time of 5min 30 was needed.
- The 75% bar was passed after 9 min 10
- The last two percent were stuck for a while but 100% was reached in 18min.
The phone felt warm while charging, mostly from the sides, which tells us that the in-house ‘Sandwich’ cooling system also seems to benefit the battery. The set remains however less hot than on a demanding game.
Most phones charge relatively quickly these days, and many are able to fully charge their battery in less than an hour. OnePlus and Oppo have championed 65W fast charging technology for the past couple of years, which typically means a 35-36 minute charge.
This charging speed can completely change your routine. Indeed, instead of plugging it in every night, you plug it in when it’s pretty much empty, then you make yourself a cup of tea, do a few errands around the house, and when you get back you’ve got enough juice for the rest of the day. However, we are concerned about overall battery longevity given these speeds.
As for the actual battery life, it is not the best on the market. The 4500mAh capacity present inside the Black Shark 4 Pro is quite common nowadays, but it has to power a very bright screen with a high refresh rate and a high-end processor, so it can only last as long as a “standard” smartphone.
In real-world testing, however, I found the Black Shark 4 Pro got me through a day of use without suffering from battery anxiety, with a mix of casual gaming, texting, tweeting and calls, although it depends on what you’re doing.
If you want to run the highest-textured AAA mobile games with a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz enabled, the battery is likely to drain much faster. I noticed a 10-15% drop in battery life after playing Call of Duty Mobile at the highest possible settings for about 25 minutes. But with such fast recharging, if the battery drains faster than some competitors, it’ll be ready to go again in no time.
It’s also worth noting the screen settings available: the “natural” setting offers a refresh rate of 144Hz and if you choose, for example, the “smooth” intermediate setting, capped at 90Hz, you will benefit from a better autonomy. The “standard” mode corresponds to 60 Hz.
Black Shark 4 Pro: Our review
With so many manufacturers looking to give their smartphones a slim and sleek look, it’s refreshing to see a different phone coming. The priority of the Black Shark 4 Pro is above all to be practical. It sports a big, bright screen, powerful sound, and is therefore a bit larger than your usual phone. But is it really important?
Magnetic pop-up triggers are a game-changer, allowing for a console-like gaming experience without the need for additional accessories. Shark Space also offers software and features that really enhance the in-game experience and performance.
Thanks to its cooling system, the phone manages to contain temperatures and do better than other competitors with an equal configuration. This impressive feat of engineering results in a premium mobile gaming experience devoid of freezes or lag.
Despite the processor which is more than enough but not of the very latest generation, we must also take into account the 144Hz AMOLED screen and its touch response rate at 720Hz, which is still one of the best gaming screens in 2022.
Sure, the camera part is a little underwhelming, but we’re not sure that’s a major red flag for a device like this. The Black Share 4 Pro is an accomplished product that blurs the lines between gaming phones and affordable flagships.
- Stunning 144Hz AMOLED display
- The triggers
- Speaker quality
- Super fast charging
- Contained temperatures
- Battery capacity that could be improved
- Black Shark 4 Pro Smartphone 12+256 Go Telephone, Snapdragon 888 téléphone, 6,67”144Hz FHD+ AMOLED Écran, Supercharge 120W 4500 mAh Battery,Cosmo NeroQualcomm Snapdragon 888 – 25% faster on performance, 35% faster on graphics rendering, 70% faster on AI compute capacity. The new 5nm process offers higher performance with lower power consumption. 6400 Mbps LPDDR5 – 16% improved RAM efficiency, 20% faster application launch. Improved UFS3.1 – 55% Increased Read Speed, 69% Improved Write Speed Superior Audio System, Cinematic Audio Experience – Dual Linear Speakers, 1.5CC Oversized Sound Cavity / Intelligent PA, Maximum Voltage up to 15V / Seven Magnetic Circuits Drive Unit, Hyper Charge Enhanced Speaker Amplitude to 120W.€659.00
- Black Shark 4 Pro [5G] – 8+128GB Smartphone, 6.67” Display, 144Hz, Snapdragon 888, 64MP Triple Cameras, 4500mAh Battery, 6400MHz LPDDR5, DXOMARK Dual Speakers, Black (Global Version)Qualcomm Snapdragon 888: 25% faster on performance, 35% faster on graphics rendering, 70% faster on AI computing capacity. The new 5nm process offers higher performance with lower power consumption. 6400 Mbps LPDDR5 – 16% improved RAM efficiency, 20% faster application launch. UFS3.1 Improved – Read speed increased by 55%, write speed improved by 69%. Superior Audio System, Cinematic Audio Experience – Dual Linear Speakers, Oversized 1.5CC Sound Cavity / Intelligent PA, Maximum Voltage up to 15V / Seven Magnetic Circuits Drive Unit, Hyper Enhanced Speaker Amplitude Charging at 120W.€ 529.00 €579.00 -9%