The recent trend for gaming handsets is great news for those who like entertainment on the go, but it’s also a boon for smartphone buyers who want incredible power at a reasonable cost. The likes of the Nubia Red Magic 3 and Black Shark 2 offer Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipsets at a fraction of the price of rival devices from Samsung and the like, and also come with cool features like Switch-style controllers, liquid cooling and super-responsive screens.
They’re also here to stay, it would seem, because the Black Shark 2 Pro has been announced and it’s a complete beast of a smartphone. The headline news here is that it’s one of the first phones to use Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 855 Plus processor, which promises around a 15 percent GPU boost when compared to the vanilla 855. That fact alone will make the Black Shark 2 Pro very attractive to gamers.
Even better news is that the touch latency of the screen has been reduced from the (already impressive) 43.5ms to 34.7ms. That means that you touches are going to get detected even faster, which is a massive bonus for serious mobile players. On the downside, the refresh rate of the display remains locked at 60Hz, way behind the zippy 120Hz displays seen on rivals like the Razer Phone 2 and Asus ROG Phone II.
The Black Shark 2 Pro – Your Next Gaming Phone?
Still, the other good stuff seen in the Black Shark 2 remains. The liquid cooling system keeps the phone at an agreeable temperature even when you’re pushing it to the max, while the x-shaped antenna provides super-solid wireless connectivity for gaming. The AMOLED display looks amazing, and the Black Shark 2 Pro remains compatible with the optional wireless controllers that shipped alongside the original version. There’s also a pressure-sensitive screen which can be customised for gaming.
The best thing about the Black Shark 2 Pro is perhaps the price; the 12GB RAM / 128GB storage model retails for around $435 despite those blazing specs, or you could boost the storage up to 256GB for around $510. Compare those prices to the Samsung Galaxy S10, and you’ll realise how much of a bargain the Black Shark 2 Pro really is.
The Black Shark 2 Pro launches in Europe soon, and is expected to hit the US early next year. The fact that Xiamoi – which owns the Black Shark brand – is investing so much in this sector of the market proves that gaming phones aren’t going away any time soon; in fact, it’s the one sector of the smartphone market which actually seems to be doing something interesting right now.
Damien McFerran has been covering phones and mobile technology for well over a decade. An Android specialist, as well as an expert reviewer of phones, Damien is one of the best technology journalists working today. He is also editorial director over at the excellent Nintendo Life.