Black Shark 2 First Look: Call Of Duty Has Come To Mobile, It May Be Time For Gaming Smartphones To Rise


The Black Shark 2, which is launching in India today, is a no holds barred gaming smartphone

Written By Saurabh Singh | Mumbai | Updated On:
Photo by Saurabh Singh

When a smartphone company starts a conversation by saying, “we focus first on gamers and their unique requirements before we bring a new product to life,” you know, it means business. There are many smartphone companies out there that build flagships and flagship killers, but not every smartphone company can dare to build a gaming smartphone. What’s the difference, you ask – aren’t all flagships and flagship killer smartphones equipped to handle high-end gaming? Why invest in an out and out gaming smartphone, when you get all that and more in a high-end Galaxy, or an iPhone, or a OnePlus? And you’re right. That’s precisely why I said, not every smartphone company can dare to build a standalone gaming smartphone. 

But the one that does – like Xiaomi-backed Black Shark - holds a competitive advantage over peers all fighting to build the perfect smartphone, or the penultimate one. Because then, it can stop trying to be a jack of all trades and focus entirely on gamers and their unique requirements before bringing a new product to life. Because then, it can stop trying to please everybody and focus its energy and resources entirely on making what it’s good at – a no holds barred gaming smartphone.  

Photo by Saurabh Singh

The Black Shark 2, which is launching in India today, is one such no holds barred gaming smartphone. In terms of design, in terms of hardware, and in terms of specialized gaming enhancements.  

While not as ‘ripped’ as the Asus ROG phone, the Black Shark 2 still manages to stand out from the crowd – make no mistake, this is a gaming smartphone, and it’s not subtle about its gaming aspirations in any way. It’s made almost entirely out of metal with some glass thrown in to offer a bit of diversity along the way – the metal has a smooth matte finish to it that feels good in the hands. There’s an RGB-lit logo on the back and green accents on the sides to further accentuate the look and feel. What’s really interesting is that Black Shark has been able to put in so much hardware inside the Black Shark 2, and yet the smartphone feels so light – like really light. Unlike the Asus ROG phone, that’s just ridiculously heavy – and thicker.   

Photo by Saurabh Singh

Coming to the core specs, the Black Shark 2 has a 6.39-inch 1080p+ AMOLED display (sourced from Samsung) - the Black Shark 2 does not have any notch or display cut-out. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor with up to 12GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage – that's LPDDR4x RAM and UFS 2.1 storage for your reference. The software inside is Joy UI – which is different from Xiaomi’s MIUI and is closer to stock Android. The phone packs a sizeable 4,000mAh battery and supports 27W fast charging via USB Type-C (although, Black Shark will bundle an 18W charger in the box). 

The Black Shark 2 further comes with dual rear cameras consisting of one 48MP Samsung GM1 sensor (for effective 12MP photos) and another 12MP telephoto sensor for 2X optical zoom. On the front, the Black Shark 2 comes with a 20MP camera. 

Photo by Saurabh Singh

Coming to the gaming enhancements – the Black Shark 2, although it does not have a 90Hz refresh rate like the OnePlus 7 Pro, has an OLED screen with an input latency of 43.5ms which should ideally entail in slicker touch response when compared with counterparts. This OLED screen is also pressure sensitive so gamers can assign virtual buttons on it and trigger them by pressing hard(er) - Black Shark is calling it Magic Press. This OLED screen is also home to an optical in-display fingerprint scanner.  

Black Shark says the Black Shark 2 screen is also HDR-enabled and supports motion interpolation, sort of like the high frame rate mode on expensive OLED TVs.   

Photo by Saurabh Singh

The Black Shark 2 also has a dedicated cooling system which is different from others, according to Black Shark – Black Shark is calling it Liquid Cool 3.0. Black Shark says this cooling system can keep temperatures 14 degrees lower over the previous generation. 

Software enhancements include a Ludicrous mode capable of optimizing CPU performance – so everything runs faster and cool as a cucumber. There’s also a mode called Shark Space that can be triggered using a dedicated Shark-key – it helps free up memory in the background and offers real-time monitoring of gaming frame-rate and system temperatures. 

Lastly, the Black Shark 2 also gets dual front-firing speakers – there is no headphone jack though. 

Photo by Saurabh Singh

The Black Shark 2 mostly does as advertised but even Black Shark would know that it is niche product. In Black Shark’s defense, it has priced the Black Shark 2 quite aggressively in India – while the base variant with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage has been launched at a price of Rs 39,999, the top-end variant with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage will cost buyers in India Rs 49,999 – that's still way less than its closest competitor, the Asus ROG phone. 

With popular titles like Call of Duty and League of Legends coming to mobile now, there’s no reason why gaming smartphones can’t come of age finally. Their pricing will be of course crucial initially – it’s safe to say that Black Shark has that covered. Watch this space for out full review of the Black Shark 2 in the days to come. 

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