Gaming smartphones are on the rise – as the hardware gets more powerful and developers become more adept at coding for the mobile platforms, games become deeper, more rewarding and closer to their console counterparts. For a great example of this, look no further than the new Apex Legends Mobile game, which perfectly mimics the console experience.
But a smartphone has its limitations – if you’re limited to just a touchscreen input, it’s easy to mess up your controls and fail in battles you should have won.
Well, the new Black Shark phone will enhance your gaming sessions with a host of customizable hardware controls, to the point where you’ll wonder “how can anyone game without one of these?”.
Black Shark 5 Pro: excellent hardware control
Black Shark is a brand that specializes in gaming smartphones and showcases their experience in making such devices. The Black Shark 5 Pro comes with two mechanical shoulder triggers that sit flush with the body of the phone. Once it’s time to game, you can turn on the triggers, which pop out and are ready to go.
They are comfortably placed and offer a very reassuring click, which is a must for accurate aiming and gaming. But the hardware checks don’t end there.
The Black Shark 5 Pro’s screen has two pressure-sensitive areas – in fact, you can push down with your left or right thumb to activate two additional commands.
For example, I have my setup for the aforementioned Apex Mobile like this: left and right shoulder buttons are, of course, used for aiming and firing. Then pushing down with my left thumb results in a squat (or sliding as I sprint) and pushing down with my right thumb is jumping.
So without moving my fingers on the phone in any way, I can access 4 different buttons – like I’m holding a controller.
Black Shark 5 Pro: design and display
Gaming phones usually have super aggressive designs that scream “high-tech gaming device here!”. If you’re not necessarily a fan of that aesthetic, the Black Shark 5 Pro may appeal to you.
It still has that high-tech graphic on its back, but it’s more muted, elegantly hidden behind a frosted glass back. There’s also an RGB LED light behind it, but it’s discreet and not obnoxious.
The phone as a whole still looks like an everyday accessory, rather than a mobile console.
Then there’s the screen: an excellent 6.67-inch OLED panel with a 144Hz refresh rate and an incredible 720Hz touch frequency. It’s HDR10+ compliant so you can watch your favorite media when you take a break from gaming.
Black Shark 5 Pro hardware and speakers
A gaming phone needs gaming hardware. It’s no surprise that the Black Shark 5 Pro is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. For memory, it comes in various combinations, from 256GB storage and 8GB RAM to 512GB storage and 16GB RAM.
We’ve placed two speakers in a stereo setup so that you can’t block them if you hold the phone in landscape. They can get quite loud and sufficiently deep, so listening for footsteps or getting a good dose of dopamine every time you take a headshot are both doable.
Black Shark 5 Pro software
Of course, there are multiple software improvements made especially for gamers. At first glance, the software on the Black Shark 5 Pro (named Joy UI 13) looks a lot like Xiaomi’s MIUI. But once you turn on Shark Space (the gaming hub), it transforms to give you all the goodies that Black Shark is cooking.
Shark Space can block all incoming notifications, clean up your RAM and lock the brightness as soon as you start a game, essentially turning your phone into a mini-game console without interruption. If you’re feeling a little cheeky, you can also pre-program “macros” – a series of taps and actions that the phone can perform automatically with a single button press. You can stream your gameplay or record yourself.
Black Shark 5 Pro Camera
We have a 108MP camera on the back, which shoots 12MP photos by default with pixels thrown out in groups of 9, and an aperture of F1.75, which makes for a creamy bokeh as soon as you get close.
Aside from that, there’s a 13MP ultra-wide camera and a 5MP macro camera to help out when you want to get too close… or capture something way too big.
The front camera has a 16MP resolution, which should come in handy if you choose to stream your mobile gaming escapades!
Black Shark 5 Pro Battery
The Black Shark 5 Pro has a 4,650 mAh battery, which was good enough to last a day. Granted, gaming on the highest settings really ate up those percentages, but I never worried. You know why?
It comes with a 120W charger! Yup, the brick in the box of the Black Shark 5 Pro is more powerful than the wall plug of your average laptop. You can refill it in about 15 minutes, if you’re in a pinch.
If you’re concerned about battery health, there are switches in the phone’s settings that can limit super-fast charging when you don’t need it. That way you get the best of both worlds: you can charge really fast when you need it, you can use it as a normal charger when you’re not in a rush.
Black Shark 5 Pro conclusion
Despite the top-end hardware and extra hardware controls, the Black Shark 5 Pro still starts at $800, which is excellent considering the amount of tech packed into it. If you want the stereo speakers, magnetic triggers, and super-fast screen but would rather save some money — the non-Pro Black Shark 5 starts at $549, powered by a Snapdragon 870. Hey, it’s no exaggeration, but it still will. do its job!
On its own, the Black Shark 5 series offers great value for gaming on the go, thanks to the aforementioned controls that really enhance the experience. But there are also additional Black Shark accessories you can add: a real hardware controller with a stick and a few buttons, and a fan to keep the phone cool.
And then it can act very much like your regular everyday phone – just pull in the triggers and enjoy the sleek look.