Black Shark 4 Pro Review: 2021 Spec, 2022 Performance


Almost a yr after the preliminary announcement of the Black Shark 4 Pro in China, the smartphone is ready to come back to UK shores.

Touting gaming-focused options like a 144Hz AMOLED show, magnetic pop-up triggers, RGB lights and 120W HyperCharge strengthen, the Black Shark 4 Pro sounds tempting, however can the early 2021 spec hang its personal in opposition to 2022 smartphones? Well…  

Design and construct

  • Big and ponderous, however no longer unwieldy
  • Clean design with minimum RGB
  • Built-in triggers are a game-changer

The Black Shark 4 Pro is a gaming phone, and that implies that it’s no longer the thinnest or lightest out there – most probably right down to the beefed-up internals and bigger cooling elements than usual flagships. If that’s no longer your factor, you’d be somewhere else.

Black Shark 4 Pro review

But whilst the Black Shark 4 Pro is a bit at 9.9mm thick and 220g, it’s no longer unwieldy because of the slender 20:9 side ratio of the 6.67in show – even supposing the trade-off is that it’s arduous to achieve the highest of the show when the usage of the phone one-handed.

Size apart, Black Shark 4 Pro is an evolution within the design of the Black Shark, holding the similar X-antenna rear as its predecessor however switching out the mix of steel and glass for an all-glass affair. The glass rear is matte to assist withstand fingerprints with the acquainted X trend visual underneath, with fascinating mild refraction results that give it a top class, however no longer so ‘in-your-face-gamer’ glance.

Black Shark 4 Pro review

A gaming phone it maximum indisputably is despite the fact that, entire with RGB lights at the rear – even supposing this can be a bit lacklustre in comparison to maximum gaming peripherals that come full of vivid lighting fixtures. Instead, you’re handled to a unmarried triangular RGB panel that sits simply underneath the rear-facing cameras, customisable to show other colors and patterns whilst you’re gaming, getting calls and extra.

It’s at hand for notifications when your phone is face-down on a desk, nevertheless it doesn’t in point of fact get advantages avid gamers – and it’s a reasonably fundamental iteration in comparison to the lights at the Asus ROG Phone 5S and Red Magic 6S Pro.

It’s no longer essentially the most spectacular gaming-focused characteristic despite the fact that; that award is going to the magnetic pop-up triggers, discovered at the right-side of the smartphone (or the highest left and correct when gaming horizontally). Hidden when no longer in use, the triggers merely come out through flipping the switches that sit down subsequent to every, offering a extra console-esque gaming enjoy with out the wish to elevate round equipment.

Black Shark 4 Pro review

The characteristic has been advanced in comparison to its predecessor, with simply 160g of strain required to turn on, a 1m+ click on cause existence and a extra responsive, tactile really feel when the usage of them.

It’s one thing I’ve discovered myself the usage of so much throughout my time with the Black Shark 4 Pro, and as the triggers may also be remapped to be used in any sport – no longer simply the ones with controller strengthen – it’s higher than a devoted controller for some video games.

There also are smaller design options that toughen the gaming enjoy, together with a extra centrally positioned quantity rocker at the left aspect to stay it out of the best way when protecting the phone horizontally, and the X-shaped antenna is helping scale back interference when held horizontally too.

Black Shark 4 Pro review

Elsewhere, the Black Shark 4 Pro includes a USB-C port for charging, a three.5mm headphone jack and a fingerprint scanner constructed into the side-mounted energy button, and it’s to be had in 3 colors: Shadow Black, Misty Grey and Cosmos Black. Keep it clear of the rain despite the fact that; there’s no reputable water resistance ranking right here.

Display

  • Best-in-class show with 144Hz refresh price and 720Hz contact pattern price
  • E4 AMOLED tech is vivid, bright and detailed
  • Magic Press tech can cause customized in-game movements

One space the place the Black Shark 4 Pro excels is within the show division. The FHD+ (1080 x 2400) show measures in at an excellent 6.67in, with E4 AMOLED tech offering a bright, vivid and detailed visible enjoy easiest for cellular gaming and picture looking at alike.

Black Shark 4 Pro review

There’s HDR10+ strengthen with top brightness at a claimed 1300nits that makes the ones Netflix presentations glance nice – and the 20:9 side ratio just about completely suits the 21:9 side ratio of Hollywood motion pictures, even supposing it does imply that ordinary 16:9 content material has better black bars than same old.

The tall side ratio may be why the highest of the show is so arduous to achieve one-handed, as discussed previous.

The bezels were shrunken down on all 4 facets for a extra top class glance, and even supposing there’s a centrally positioned holepunch digital camera cutout intruding at the full-screen show, it’s no longer as noticeable as some cutouts at 2.8mm-wide – even if gaming.

It’s whilst you delve into the nitty-gritty that the show in point of fact starts to polish; it gives a 144Hz refresh price to compare the preferred refresh price utilized by PC avid gamers for a buttery-smooth visible enjoy, however what’s extra spectacular is the 720Hz contact pattern price.

(*4*)

That implies that contact enter is detected a lot more temporarily than conventional smartphone presentations, leading to decrease latency and quicker reaction occasions – particularly the most important when taking part in aggressive on-line video games.

In truth, Black Shark claims that the tech approach there’s best an 8.3ms contact prolong, and if true, that’s one of the best out there – even in 2022, a yr after its unlock.

It unquestionably feels responsive in on a regular basis use, particularly in on-line shooters like Call of Duty Mobile the place I’m ready to in an instant reply to incoming threats – every so often even if I’m already within the enemy crosshair – and I’m no longer even what I’d describe as a ‘professional’ participant.  

The show may be pressure-sensitive the usage of Black Shark’s ‘Magic Press’ tech, with the purpose of with the ability to press down onto the show to cause particular sport purposes like reloading or the usage of a melee weapon. Though it’s a distinct segment characteristic that no longer even all avid gamers will use, it’s a at hand possibility for the facility customers amongst us.  

Performance and spec

  • Performance is excellent, particularly when gaming
  • Snapdragon 888 is out of date when compared 888+ and eight Gen 1
  • Latest connectivity choices come with Wi-Fi 6E and 5G

The Black Shark 4 Pro had among the finest specifications when it was once to begin with printed again in March 2021, however nearly a yr later, the ones specifications aren’t rather as attractive.

The Black Shark 4 Pro sports activities Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 along both 8 or 12GB of LPDDR5 6400MHz RAM, and also you’ve were given both 128- or 256GB of UFS 3.1 garage to play with, hanging it in likes with the likes of the Asus ROG Phone 5 and Red Magic 6 which have been additionally launched round the similar time.

Black Shark 4 Pro review

So, how does that translate to real-world efficiency? Despite no longer having the newest and largest tech through 2022 requirements, the mix of a Snapdragon 888 and eight/12GB of LPDDR5 RAM supplies a solidly high-end gaming enjoy that’s sustained over lengthy sessions because of the corporate’s ‘sandwich’ liquid cooling gadget.

It’s unquestionably greater than sufficient for informal cellular video games, or even essentially the most challenging AAA cellular video games like Call of Duty Mobile or PUBG Mobile run on the easiest graphical settings with further extras enabled with out factor. It’s additionally simply as comfortable when scrolling thru Instagram, the usage of the digital camera and absolutely anything else, as you may be expecting.

The downside is that with the upgraded Snapdragon 888 Plus readily to be had and next-gen Snapdragon 8 Gen 1-equipped telephones rolling out, the Snapdragon 888 chipset is beginning to display its age. While it does not make a distinction presently, as builders lean into the additional energy on be offering from the newest chipsets, you may even see a drop in efficiency.

With that being mentioned, the gaming phone is in a position to outpace maximum different Snapdragon 888-equipped smartphones in each our CPU and GPU benchmark exams – even supposing I’d have an interest to peer the way it compares to the 888 Plus-equipped ROG Phone 5S, however we are but to get that during for trying out. 

For reference, this is how the Black Shark 4 Pro with 12GB of RAM stands up in opposition to similarly-specced smartphones:

While you should argue that the Snapdragon 888 is solely no longer as tough, energy-efficient or ML-capable as the newest chipsets on paper, Black Shark has executed an admirable task at squeezing each closing drop of energy from the year-old chipset. While it is going to nonetheless trouble avid gamers that really feel they want the newest and largest, it is completely appropriate for the overwhelming majority. 

Black Shark 4 Pro review

Performance apart, you will have to be expecting the newest in connectivity together with 5G connectivity and strengthen for Wi-Fi 6E in areas the place it’s qualified, offering rapid web speeds ideally suited for multiplayer video games and cloud gaming too. There’s additionally Bluetooth 5.0 for connecting headphones, controllers and different equipment, and there’s NFC for virtual bills too.

Camera

  • Rear triple digital camera setup
  • Only the primary 64Mp digital camera is usable
  • Poor low-light efficiency around the board

Camera efficiency is essential on any smartphone, but when there’s any class of smartphone the place it doesn’t topic as a lot, it’s gaming telephones – a minimum of, that’s what the producers appear to imagine. Though the Black Shark 4 Pro does toughen on its digital camera providing in comparison to its predecessor, it’s nonetheless no longer what maximum would believe flagship.

Black Shark 4 Pro review

On the rear, you’ll discover a primary 64Mp sensor along an 8Mp ultrawide lens and a 5Mp macro lens.

The primary sensor is what you’ll be the usage of as a rule, with specifications that some distance outperform the opposite two lenses, with headline options together with a reasonably first rate f/1.79 aperture. With excellent lights, stills have a tight quantity of element, colourful colors and nice dynamic vary, making it a excellent snapper for on a regular basis photographs.

It’s in low-light prerequisites that high quality starts to tail off, with pictures taking a look a lot softer with a extra noticeable anti-noise set of rules at play – and there isn’t a lot of a distinction when taking pictures within the devoted evening mode both.

It’s a limitation of the stabilisation greater than the rest, with the digital symbol stabilisation (EIS) no longer ready to right kind the wobble as you hang the phone in position in addition to optical symbol stabilisation (OIS) would.

The efficiency of the 119-degree ultrawide is ok in excellent lights prerequisites, even supposing there’s nonetheless a transparent distinction intimately when in comparison to photographs from the primary lens, and that distinction best turns into extra obvious as mild ranges start to drop. The ultra-wide is excellent for scenic photographs or workforce footage, however best in the perfect lights prerequisites.

Black Shark 4 Pro review

The much less we are saying concerning the 5Mp macro lens the simpler, partially as it took us so lengthy to seek out the mode within the Camera app that it feels purposefully hidden through Black Shark. It plays about in addition to maximum macro lenses available on the market, and that’s to mention it doesn’t paintings really well. It’ll be one thing you employ a few times, however not more than that.

Flip the phone over and also you’ll discover a 120-degree ultra-wide 20Mp digital camera that’s greater than huge sufficient for workforce selfies, despite the fact that the f/2.45 aperture approach it’s worse than the rear-facing huge digital camera in low-light prerequisites, so that you’d higher activate a lamp or head outdoor for video calls and selfies.

Software

  • JOYUI 12 has nice gaming-focused options
  • Poor UI design, may also be complicated to make use of
  • No dedication to long term Android updates

The Black Shark 4 Pro ships with JOYUI 12, which itself is in accordance with Xiaomi’s MIUI 12, which is in accordance with Android 11, so it’s a customized UI in accordance with a customized UI of inventory Android 11 – were given that? Great.

Based on Xiaomi’s MIUI 12, it will have to come as no wonder that the JoyUI 12 enjoy is ready as some distance from inventory Android as you’ll get – for higher, and for worse. It unquestionably has that gamer aesthetic, with customized icons, cool gamer-focused backgrounds and a number of topics to make a choice from, together with third-party choices that convey it nearer to the inventory Android glance if that’s what you like.

The primary hook of JOYUI 12 is, after all, Shark Space 4.0, the corporate’s hub for gaming at the smartphone.

Black Shark 4 Pro review

It acts similar to a console UI would, supplying you with fast get right of entry to to all put in video games at the smartphone in a single at hand position, along side complicated settings like community standing, efficiency, show settings and notification blocks to stay you from distraction when gaming.

It additionally permits for sport macros – one thing no longer discovered on maximum gaming telephones – that can help you cause repetitive movements with a unmarried faucet of a button, additional aligning the PC and cellular gaming reports.

It’s additionally the place you’ll customize the magnetic triggers and every other Black Shark equipment you may have, so it’s one thing that customers will to find themselves the usage of reasonably continuously.

Gaming focal point apart despite the fact that, it has the similar lawsuits that many western customers have of MIUI 12, together with a complicated Settings menu, hit-and-miss notification strengthen and a variety of pre-installed apps – a few of which will’t be uninstalled.

There’s additionally the complicated Camera app UI which, for some explanation why, hides the Macro lens inside the hamburger menu (no longer within the mode selector) and in addition splits the ultra-wide-angle from the primary sensor transfer toggle – a spot the place you’ll flick through all lenses on nearly every other Android smartphone.

While some of these problems may also be triumph over through finding out the quirks and intricacies of JOYUI 12, it’s in no way essentially the most intuitive, feature-packed or smoothest tool enjoy to be had when in comparison to Samsung, Google and even Apple, and in contrast to maximum Android producers, there’s no dedication for an improve to Android 12 let by myself long term OS upgrades.

Battery existence

  • All-day battery existence typically, however drains quicker when gaming
  • 120W HyperCharge supplies 90% fee in simply quarter-hour

The Black Shark 4 Pro includes a 4,500mAh battery that – on paper a minimum of – can’t rather compete with the 6,000mAh battery on be offering from the likes of the Asus ROG Phone 5S, or even non-gaming telephones just like the 5,000mAh Moto G200.

In real-world exams, alternatively, I discovered the Black Shark 4 Pro would very easily get me thru an afternoon’s use with out getting battery nervousness, with a mixture of informal gaming, texting, tweeting and calling, even supposing that relies on what you’re as much as.

Black Shark 4 Pro review

If you wish to have to run AAA cellular video games on the easiest textures with the max 144Hz refresh price enabled, it’s most probably that the battery will die a lot sooner – I spotted a 10-15% drop in battery existence after taking part in Call of Duty Mobile on the easiest settings conceivable for round 25 mins.  

The saving grace is that the charging enjoy is incomprehensibly rapid, with strengthen for Xiaomi’s 120W HyperCharge era – and in contrast to many opponents, the entire pace charger comes as usual within the field. It in point of fact is impressively rapid too, with our exams appearing a 0-90% fee in quarter-hour, and it reached 100% fee inside of half-hour.

So, even though the battery does drain quicker than some opponents, it’ll be in a position to head once more very quickly – even supposing I’d have an interest to peer how a lot fee the battery holds after a yr of such excessive charging speeds.

Price

The Black Shark 4 Pro is ready to come back to UK shores from 23 February 2022, nearly a yr after its China expose. It’s to be had in two configurations – 8GB/128GB and 12GB/256GB – costing £489 and £569 respectively.

Though that does sound like a tempting be offering, it’s price stating that you’ll get newer gaming-focused smartphones – just like the 888 Plus-equipped Nubia Red Magic 6S Pro – for round the similar worth, and the likes of the Moto G200 prices even much less at £399. If you’re tempted, you’ll select up the phone from 23 February from Black Shark and outlets like Amazon.  

It’s additionally set to be launched in america at $579 and $679 respectively.

If you wish to have to peer how the Black Shark 4 Pro compares, check out our select of the most productive gaming telephones.

Black Shark 4 Pro review

Verdict

The Black Shark 4 Pro is a succesful gaming phone, even with a 2021 spec.

While the gaming phone’s Snapdragon 888 is starting to glance previous in comparison to 2022 gaming telephones, benchmarks display that the producers have squeezed each drop of energy conceivable for chart-topping benchmark effects, even if in comparison to telephones with the upgraded Snapdragon 888 Plus.

It in point of fact is an excellent feat of engineering, and that interprets to a high-end cellular gaming enjoy devoid of freezing or lag. 

It is price citing that it isn’t technically the quickest Black Shark, with the follow-up Black Shark 4S vary – with a Snapdragon 888 Plus – readily to be had in China. But, given the prolong with the Black Shark 4 Pro, it’ll be some time earlier than that graces UK shores (if ever).

If you’re extra targeted at the core gaming enjoy than the specifications, the Black Shark 4 Pro continues to be a tempting possibility. The magnetic pop-up triggers are a game-changer, taking into account a really console-esque gaming enjoy with out the will for extra equipment, and Shark Space has some nice tool options that assist toughen your sport efficiency too.

There’s additionally the 144Hz AMOLED show with 720Hz contact reaction price to believe, which stays one of the vital higher gaming presentations in 2022, so there may be nonetheless so much to understand – it is simply no longer the quickest Black Shark round.

Specs

Black Shark 4 Pro: Specs

  • 163.8 x 76.4 x 9.9mm
  • 220g
  • 6.67in AMOLED show with 144Hz refresh price, 720Hz contact pattern price and HDR10+ strengthen
  • FHD+ (1080 x 2400) solution
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
  • 8GB/12GB of LPDDR5 6400MHz RAM
  • 128/256GB of UFS3.1 garage
  • 4,500mAh battery with 120W Hyper Charge
  • Rear digital camera: 64Mp f/1.79 primary, 8Mp f2.2 ultrawide and 5Mp f/2.4 macro lens
  • Front digital camera: 20Mp f/2.45
  • Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.0 & NFC
  • Fingerprint scanner (energy button)
  • Shark Eye lights results
  • Magnetic pop-up triggers



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