I had hardly comprehended the rationale behind gaming smartphones until I started using one. While the current-generation flagship phones have the performance to smoothly handle even the most graphic-intensive gaming titles, gaming smartphones deliver a customised experience through value-added features and improve user experience.
The Black Shark 2 was the first gaming-centric smartphone that I was using since the Asus ROG, which was the first such product in India. The first look of the device was enough to convey that it was not of a generic breed. While most smartphones go for minimal design, the Black Shark 2 had on its rear had lines and curves that resembled those in luxury sports cars. Its glass build accentuates its design and metal in the body improves network and wireless signal reception.
The phone has a 6.39-inch fullHD+ AMOLED screen stretched in a tall 19.5:9 aspect ratio. Though the screen has some bezels on top and bottom, these work in the device’s favour — they eliminate the risk of accidental screen touch during gaming sessions. Besides design and aesthetics, the phone’s screen is also of a gaming grade. It supports HDR and has a low latency touch input (touch input rate) of 240Hz refresh rate. The screen refresh rate is 60Hz.
The screen, however, is not best suited for multimedia content. The phone does not have a Widevine L1 certification and cannot stream high-definition content from over-the-top platforms like Amazon Prime Videos and Netflix. It does have a super cinema mode to artificially increase video frame rates but even that faces random frame rate drops and spoils the experience.
This gaming smartphone has a sleek performance, thanks to its flagship hardware. Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 system-on-chip, mated with a 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage, the phone boots a customised Android Pie operating system that looks similar to the stock version. The OS is loaded with the company’s gaming-centric value-added features, such as game dock and gamer studio.
The game dock, an in-game feature available for almost every game, provides options to silence notifications and show a performance dashboard displaying real-time gaming playback data, such as framerate and system temperature. The gamer studio is also an in-game setting that allows you to free up processor resources, tweak display settings, change touch input, and change themes.
The phone has a dedicated key to switch between a customised gaming hub (Shark Space) user interface — to access a library of installed games — and the normal phone mode.
If you are a gamer and also like photography, the Black Shark 2 could be the perfect blend for you. It has a capable dual-camera module on its back with a 48-megapixel primary sensor of an f/1.8 aperture and a 12MP telephoto lens for 2x optical zoom. On the front, it has a 20MP shooter of an f/2.0 aperture.
The phone’s rear dual-camera set-up is a capable one and captures natural shots with ample details, good contrast ratio and dynamic range. It may not be the best in its price segment but it is certainly better than other gaming smartphones. The front camera is a performer, too, but it works well only in good light conditions.
The Black Shark 2 is powered by 4,000 mAh battery, which returns a decent on-battery time of 5 hours if you play graphic-intensive games like the PUBG and Asphalt 9. In mixed use — a couple of gaming sessions — the battery runs for about a day. Thankfully, the phone supports 27W fast-charging, which quickly replenishes the battery.
The Black Shark 2 is a gaming-centric device but also has most of the things you look for in a regular smartphone. Priced at Rs 39,999, the phone has a good form factor, gaming-inspired design, sleek performance, ample game-related customisations, capable battery and a capable camera set-up. Except multimedia, there is little that the phone is not able to deliver on. Consider this one if you need an all-round smartphone that also doubles up as a gaming device.