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Black Shark Four Professional Assessment: 2021 Spec, 2022 Efficiency



Virtually a yr after the preliminary announcement of the Black Shark Four Professional 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 lighting and 120W HyperCharge help, the Black Shark Four Professional sounds tempting, however can the early 2021 spec maintain its personal in opposition to 2022 smartphones? Effectively…  

Design and construct

Massive and ponderous, however not unwieldy
Clear design with minimal RGB
Constructed-in triggers are a game-changer

The Black Shark Four Professional is a gaming cellphone, and that signifies that it’s not the thinnest or lightest available in the market – probably right down to the beefed-up internals and bigger cooling parts than normal flagships. If that’s not your factor, you’d be higher off elsewhere.

However whereas the Black Shark Four Professional is a bit at 9.9mm thick and 220g, it’s not unwieldy because of the slender 20:9 facet ratio of the 6.67in show – though the trade-off is that it’s exhausting to achieve the highest of the show when utilizing the cellphone one-handed.

Measurement apart, Black Shark Four Professional is an evolution within the design of the Black Shark, conserving the identical X-antenna rear as its predecessor however switching out the mix of metallic and glass for an all-glass affair. The glass rear is matte to assist resist fingerprints with the acquainted X sample seen beneath, with fascinating gentle refraction results that give it a premium, however not so ‘in-your-face-gamer’ look.

A gaming cellphone it most undoubtedly is although, full with RGB lighting on the rear – though it’s a bit lacklustre in comparison with most gaming peripherals that come full of brilliant lights. As an alternative, you’re handled to a single triangular RGB panel that sits simply beneath the rear-facing cameras, customisable to show completely different colors and patterns while you’re gaming, getting calls and extra.

It’s useful for notifications when your cellphone is face-down on a desk, however it doesn’t actually profit players – and it’s a reasonably primary iteration in comparison with the lighting on the Asus ROG Cellphone 5S and Crimson Magic 6S Professional.

It’s not probably the most spectacular gaming-focused characteristic although; that award goes to the magnetic pop-up triggers, discovered on the right-side of the smartphone (or the highest left and proper when gaming horizontally). Hidden when not in use, the triggers merely come out by flipping the switches that sit subsequent to every, offering a extra console-esque gaming expertise with out the necessity to carry round equipment.

The characteristic has been improved in comparison with its predecessor, with simply 160g of stress required to activate, a 1m+ click on set off life and a extra responsive, tactile really feel when utilizing them.

It’s one thing I’ve discovered myself utilizing loads throughout my time with the Black Shark Four Professional, and since the triggers could be remapped to be used in any sport – not simply these with controller help – it’s higher than a devoted controller for some video games.

There are additionally smaller design options that enhance the gaming expertise, together with a extra centrally positioned quantity rocker on the left aspect to maintain it out of the way in which when holding the cellphone horizontally, and the X-shaped antenna helps scale back interference when held horizontally too.

Elsewhere, the Black Shark Four Professional encompasses a USB-C port for charging, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a fingerprint scanner constructed into the side-mounted energy button, and it’s out there in three colors: Shadow Black, Misty Gray and Cosmos Black. Maintain it away from the rain although; there’s no official water resistance score right here.

Show

Greatest-in-class show with 144Hz refresh charge and 720Hz contact pattern charge
E4 AMOLED tech is brilliant, vivid and detailed
Magic Press tech can set off customized in-game actions

One space the place the Black Shark Four Professional excels is within the show division. The FHD+ (1080 x 2400) show measures in at a formidable 6.67in, with E4 AMOLED tech offering a vivid, brilliant and detailed visible expertise good for cell gaming and film watching alike.

There’s HDR10+ help with peak brightness at a claimed 1300nits that makes these Netflix reveals look nice – and the 20:9 facet ratio almost completely matches the 21:9 facet ratio of Hollywood films, though it does imply that normal 16:9 content material has bigger black bars than standard.

The tall facet ratio can be why the highest of the show is so exhausting to achieve one-handed, as talked about earlier.

The bezels have been shrunken down on all 4 sides for a extra premium look, and though there’s a centrally positioned holepunch digicam cutout intruding on the full-screen show, it’s not as noticeable as some cutouts at 2.8mm-wide – even when gaming.

It’s while you delve into the nitty-gritty that the show actually begins to shine; it affords a 144Hz refresh charge to match the favored refresh charge utilized by PC players for a buttery-smooth visible expertise, however what’s extra spectacular is the 720Hz contact pattern charge.

That signifies that contact enter is detected rather more rapidly than conventional smartphone shows, leading to decrease latency and quicker response occasions – particularly essential when enjoying aggressive on-line video games.

In truth, Black Shark claims that the tech means there’s solely an 8.3ms contact delay, and if true, that’s among the many greatest available in the market – even in 2022, a yr after its launch.

It definitely feels responsive in on a regular basis use, particularly in on-line shooters like Name of Responsibility Cellular the place I’m capable of immediately reply to incoming threats – generally even after I’m already within the enemy crosshair – and I’m not even what I’d describe as a ‘professional’ participant.  

The show can be pressure-sensitive utilizing Black Shark’s ‘Magic Press’ tech, with the intention of with the ability to press down onto the show to set off particular sport features like reloading or utilizing a melee weapon. Although it’s a distinct segment characteristic that not even all players will use, it’s a useful possibility for the facility customers amongst us.  

Efficiency and spec

Efficiency is nice, particularly when gaming
Snapdragon 888 is outdated in contrast 888+ and eight Gen 1
Newest connectivity choices embrace Wi-Fi 6E and 5G

The Black Shark Four Professional had top-of-the-line specs when it was initially revealed again in March 2021, however virtually a yr later, these specs aren’t fairly as engaging.

The Black Shark Four Professional sports activities Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 alongside both Eight or 12GB of LPDDR5 6400MHz RAM, and also you’ve obtained both 128- or 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage to play with, placing it in likes with the likes of the Asus ROG Cellphone 5 and Crimson Magic 6 which had been additionally launched across the similar time.

So, how does that translate to real-world efficiency? Regardless of not having the newest and biggest tech by 2022 requirements, the mix of a Snapdragon 888 and eight/12GB of LPDDR5 RAM offers a solidly high-end gaming expertise that’s sustained over lengthy durations because of the corporate’s ‘sandwich’ liquid cooling system.

It’s definitely greater than sufficient for informal cell video games, and even probably the most demanding AAA cell video games like Name of Responsibility Cellular or PUBG Cellular run on the highest graphical settings with further extras enabled with out situation. It’s additionally simply as {smooth} when scrolling by Instagram, utilizing the digicam and absolutely anything else, as you would possibly anticipate.

The issue is that with the upgraded Snapdragon 888 Plus available and next-gen Snapdragon Eight Gen 1-equipped telephones rolling out, the Snapdragon 888 chipset is beginning to present its age. Whereas it does not make a distinction proper now, as builders lean into the additional energy on provide from the newest chipsets, you might even see a drop in efficiency.

With that being mentioned, the gaming cellphone is ready to outpace most different Snapdragon 888-equipped smartphones in each our CPU and GPU benchmark checks – though I would have an interest to see the way it compares to the 888 Plus-equipped ROG Cellphone 5S, however we’re but to get that in for testing. 

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

When you might argue that the Snapdragon 888 is just not as highly effective, energy-efficient or ML-capable as the newest chipsets on paper, Black Shark has accomplished an admirable job at squeezing each final drop of energy from the year-old chipset. Whereas it will nonetheless hassle players that really feel they want the newest and biggest, it is completely acceptable for the overwhelming majority. 

Efficiency apart, you need to anticipate the newest in connectivity together with 5G connectivity and help for Wi-Fi 6E in areas the place it’s licensed, offering quick web speeds perfect for multiplayer video games and cloud gaming too. There’s additionally Bluetooth 5.Zero for connecting headphones, controllers and different equipment, and there’s NFC for digital funds too.

Digital camera

Rear triple digicam setup
Solely the primary 64Mp digicam is usable
Poor low-light efficiency throughout the board

Digital camera efficiency is necessary on any smartphone, but when there’s any class of smartphone the place it doesn’t matter as a lot, it’s gaming telephones – a minimum of, that’s what the producers appear to consider. Although the Black Shark Four Professional does enhance on its digicam providing in comparison with its predecessor, it’s nonetheless not what most would think about flagship.

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

The primary sensor is what you’ll be utilizing more often than not, with specs that far outperform the opposite two lenses, with headline options together with a reasonably first rate f/1.79 aperture. With good lighting, stills have a good quantity of element, vibrant colors and nice dynamic vary, making it a superb snapper for on a regular basis pictures.

It’s in low-light situations that high quality begins to tail off, with photos trying a lot softer with a extra noticeable anti-noise algorithm 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 something, with the digital picture stabilisation (EIS) not capable of appropriate the wobble as you maintain the cellphone in place in addition to optical picture stabilisation (OIS) would.

The efficiency of the 119-degree ultrawide is okay in good lighting situations, though there’s nonetheless a transparent distinction intimately when in comparison with pictures from the primary lens, and that distinction solely turns into extra obvious as gentle ranges start to drop. The ultra-wide is nice for scenic pictures or group pictures, however solely in the perfect lighting situations.

The much less we are saying in regards to the 5Mp macro lens the higher, partly as a result of it took us so lengthy to search out the mode within the Digital camera app that it feels purposefully hidden by Black Shark. It performs about in addition to most macro lenses in the marketplace, and that’s to say it doesn’t work very properly. It’ll be one thing you employ a couple of times, however not more than that.

Flip the cellphone over and also you’ll discover a 120-degree ultra-wide 20Mp digicam that’s greater than large sufficient for group selfies, although the f/2.45 aperture means it’s worse than the rear-facing large digicam in low-light situations, so that you’d higher activate a lamp or head outdoors for video calls and selfies.

Software program

JOYUI 12 has nice gaming-focused options
Poor UI design, could be complicated to make use of
No dedication to future Android updates

The Black Shark Four Professional ships with JOYUI 12, which itself relies on Xiaomi’s MIUI 12, which relies on Android 11, so it’s a customized UI primarily based on a customized UI of inventory Android 11 – obtained that? Nice.

Based mostly on Xiaomi’s MIUI 12, it ought to come as no shock that the JoyUI 12 expertise is about as removed from inventory Android as you will get – for higher, and for worse. It definitely has that gamer aesthetic, with customized icons, cool gamer-focused backgrounds and a bunch of themes to select from, together with third-party choices that carry it nearer to the inventory Android look if that’s what you like.

The primary hook of JOYUI 12 is, in fact, Shark House 4.0, the corporate’s hub for gaming on the smartphone.

It acts very similar to a console UI would, offering you with fast entry to all put in video games on the smartphone in a single useful place, together with superior settings like community standing, efficiency, show settings and notification blocks to maintain you from distraction when gaming.

It additionally permits for sport macros – one thing not discovered on most gaming telephones – that permit you to set off repetitive actions with a single faucet of a button, additional aligning the PC and cell gaming experiences.

It’s additionally the place you possibly can customise the magnetic triggers and some other Black Shark equipment you may need, so it’s one thing that customers will discover themselves utilizing pretty usually.

Gaming focus apart although, it has the identical complaints that many western customers have of MIUI 12, together with a complicated Settings menu, hit-and-miss notification help and a spread of pre-installed apps – a few of which might’t be uninstalled.

There’s additionally the complicated Digital camera app UI which, for some motive, hides the Macro lens inside the hamburger menu (not within the mode selector) and likewise splits the ultra-wide-angle from the primary sensor change toggle – a spot the place you possibly can flick through all lenses on virtually some other Android smartphone.

Whereas most of those points could be overcome by studying the quirks and intricacies of JOYUI 12, it’s definitely not probably the most intuitive, feature-packed or smoothest software program expertise out there when in comparison with Samsung, Google and even Apple, and in contrast to most Android producers, there’s no dedication for an improve to Android 12 not to mention future OS upgrades.

Battery life

All-day battery life typically, however drains quicker when gaming
120W HyperCharge offers 90% cost in simply 15 minutes

The Black Shark Four Professional encompasses a 4,500mAh battery that – on paper a minimum of – can’t fairly compete with the 6,000mAh battery on provide from the likes of the Asus ROG Cellphone 5S, and even non-gaming telephones just like the 5,000mAh Moto G200.

In real-world checks, nevertheless, I discovered the Black Shark Four Professional would comfortably get me by a day’s use with out getting battery anxiousness, with a mixture of informal gaming, texting, tweeting and calling, though that can rely on what you’re as much as.

If you wish to run AAA cell video games on the highest textures with the max 144Hz refresh charge enabled, it’s probably that the battery will die a lot faster – I observed a 10-15% drop in battery life after enjoying Name of Responsibility Cellular on the highest settings attainable for round 25 minutes.  

The saving grace is that the charging expertise is incomprehensibly quick, with help for Xiaomi’s 120W HyperCharge expertise – and in contrast to many rivals, the complete pace charger comes as normal within the field. It truly is impressively quick too, with our checks displaying a 0-90% cost in 15 minutes, and it reached 100% cost inside 30 minutes.

So, even when the battery does drain quicker than some rivals, it’ll be able to go once more very quickly – though I’d have an interest to see how a lot cost the battery holds after a yr of such excessive charging speeds.

Value

The Black Shark Four Professional is ready to come back to UK shores from 23 February 2022, virtually a yr after its China reveal. It’s out there in two configurations – 8GB/128GB and 12GB/256GB – costing £489 and £569 respectively.

Although that does sound like a tempting provide, it’s value mentioning that you may get newer gaming-focused smartphones – just like the 888 Plus-equipped Nubia Crimson Magic 6S Professional – for across the similar value, and the likes of the Moto G200 prices even much less at £399. If you’re tempted, you possibly can decide up the cellphone from 23 February from Black Shark and retailers like Amazon.  

It’s additionally set to be launched within the US at $579 and $679 respectively.

If you wish to see how the Black Shark Four Professional compares, check out our decide of the very best gaming telephones.

Verdict

The Black Shark Four Professional is a succesful gaming cellphone, even with a 2021 spec.

Whereas the gaming cellphone’s Snapdragon 888 is starting to look previous in comparison with 2022 gaming telephones, benchmarks present that the producers have squeezed each drop of energy attainable for chart-topping benchmark outcomes, even when in comparison with telephones with the upgraded Snapdragon 888 Plus.

It truly is a formidable feat of engineering, and that interprets to a high-end cell gaming expertise devoid of freezing or lag. 

It’s value mentioning that it isn’t technically the quickest Black Shark, with the follow-up Black Shark 4S vary – with a Snapdragon 888 Plus – available in China. However, given the delay with the Black Shark Four Professional, it’ll be some time earlier than that graces UK shores (if ever).

Should you’re extra centered on the core gaming expertise than the specs, the Black Shark Four Professional continues to be a tempting possibility. The magnetic pop-up triggers are a game-changer, permitting for a very console-esque gaming expertise with out the necessity for added equipment, and Shark House has some nice software program options that assist enhance your sport efficiency too.

There’s additionally the 144Hz AMOLED show with 720Hz contact response charge to think about, which stays one of many higher gaming shows in 2022, so there may be nonetheless loads to understand – it is simply not the quickest Black Shark round.

Specs
Black Shark Four Professional: Specs

163.Eight x 76.Four x 9.9mm

220g

6.67in AMOLED show with 144Hz refresh charge, 720Hz contact pattern charge and HDR10+ help

FHD+ (1080 x 2400) decision

Qualcomm Snapdragon 888

8GB/12GB of LPDDR5 6400MHz RAM

128/256GB of UFS3.1 storage

4,500mAh battery with 120W Hyper Cost

Rear digicam: 64Mp f/1.79 foremost, 8Mp f2.2 ultrawide and 5Mp f/2.Four macro lens

Entrance digicam: 20Mp f/2.45

Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.0 & NFC

Fingerprint scanner (energy button)

Shark Eye lighting results

Magnetic pop-up triggers

About the author: SubSellKaro

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