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- Stock Android
- Good autonomy
- Excellent cooling
- More than enough power
- Gamepads make it a truly portable console
- Just 60Hz
- No headphone jack
- The camera could be better
The Xiaomi Black Shark 2 (Check on Amazon.com) is even more beautiful and premium than its predecessor. The back is a blend of metal and glass with two cameras on the upper left side. In the hand, it feels heavy – 203 grams – and sturdy.
The sides are metallic, so the phone has some additional protection in case you drop it, although this doesn’t mean that it is indestructible. On the right side, we find the power button and the Shark Key slider that allows us to gain access to the Shark Space. On the left side, there is the volume rocker. The top is clean, while on the bottom we find the USB Type-C port and the tray for the two nanoSIM cards. The Black Shark 2 doesn’t have expandable memory via a microSD card nor a headphone jack.
Xiaomi Black Shark 2 – Display
The display increases in size from 5.99 inches (previous model) to 6.39 inches. This is also an AMOLED TrueView panel (the previous model had an LCD one) that offers FHD+ resolution (2340×1080 pixels).
It has a taller 19.5:9 form factor and offers a maximum brightness of 410 nits (cd/m2) that is not bad. It also sports a sensational 100% NTSC and 108.9% DCI-P3 color space for a spectacular image quality worthy of the price range. And it also supports HDR in video playback.
Curiously, it is a panel with a 60Hz refresh rate, although the touch input latency has been improved up to 43.5ms thanks to a polling rate of 240Hz.
The fingerprint sensor is located on the display. This is the new normal in medium to high-end devices for better accessibility, although most of them are a tad slower than before.
The Face Unlock, on the other hand, is basically the one that comes incorporated with Android 9. It is a fairly basic system, without 3D face recognition, but surprisingly fast. It will fail to authenticate if you hold the phone too close, tilted or you wear a hat or glasses. The only point in its favor is that, using a picture the phone stays locked, detecting that it is not a real face.
Xiaomi Black Shark 2 – OS and Game Dock
The operating system is stock Android 9 Pie, which is excellent to have and hard to find in this price range.
Of course, there is proprietary software for the screen configuration options, lighting customization and also a gaming mode. This “skin” is called JOYUI and can only be activated and deactivated via the Shark Key above the power button.
By sliding it you can activate this “skin” that shows you the games that you have installed. This way you also get a top menu called Game Dock with many configuration options, like for example disable call notifications, a performance tab, a clear RAM function, etc.
There is also a device configuration panel that optimizes performance, screen display settings, network connectivity, touch input, and sound settings.
There is even a Ludicrous Mode that pushes everything to the max…
Xiaomi Black Shark 2 – Controllers
Another important feature of the Xiaomi Black Shark 2 is the possibility of installing two controllers, one on each side, to turn it into a portable console (Nintendo Switch style). These controllers are easy to insert and will instantly connect to the device via Bluetooth. The buttons and pads can be customized via the gaming tab we talked about earlier.
Personally I would have preferred if these controls came bundled with the device, even if the price went up since they are quite useful and the best feature of this gaming smartphone.
Xiaomi Black Shark 2 – Gaming
Xiaomi bets everything in this phone’s low touch latency, with a polling rate of 240Hz and a response time of 43.5 milliseconds, which makes it the most responsive smartphone in the world.
Although this can be a huge advantage in fast pacing games, the Xiaomi Black Shark 2 doesn’t have a fast refresh rate. It uses a classic 60Hz panel while the ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (that also came out this year) has a 90Hz panel and costs almost the same.
Xiaomi Black Shark 2 – Cool under pressure
Black Shark stated that it wanted to differentiate this device from other gaming cell phones by using an advanced cooling system – called Direct Touch Liquid Cooling 3.0 –.
In our test, playing PUBG Mobile, we did not experience any thermal throttling and the device remained cool, despite the game’s intensity.
Xiaomi Black Shark 2 – Cameras
The Xiaomi Black Shark 2 sports a dual rear camera module: 48 megapixels (f/1.5) and 12 megapixels (f/2.2). Photos during the day look pretty good. But the ones captured at night are a mess since there is no Night mode.
The 12MP selfie camera (f/2.2) behaves the same, with good results during the day, while at night or in low light conditions the photos leave much to be desired.
The critical feature of every gaming smartphone is to be able to squeeze the maximum power but still have a solid autonomy.
When we try to reduce consumption, the performance is usually the first thing that is limited. The Xiaomi Black Shark 2 uses a considerable large battery (4000mAh) that grants this device a respectful 18-19 hours of use with 8-9 hours of screen time under normal use.
Adding an average of 3 hours of PUBG play, the autonomy fell to 14 hours on average, but still with more than 7 hours of screen time. Kudos!
The 27W charger included in the package, compatible with fast charging, can recharge the device from 0 to 50% in just 35 minutes, and to 100% in 100 minutes. It is also capable of maintaining the battery level while you game, something that not many chargers can boast about.
The Xiaomi Black Shark 2 (Check on Amazon.com) is a true evolution of the first Black Shark (Check on Amazon.com). A gaming smartphone has to have certain features that offer a better gaming experience than ordinary cell phones. A gaming smartphone has to have a powerful processor and software capable of customizing the hardware’s performance to improve the gaming experience – all features that we find in this device -. We also require a big screen, of excellent quality (Amoled, check), with a fast refresh rate, something that this device sorely misses.
Sadly the Xiaomi Black Shark 2 doesn’t even have a headphone jack… so you cant use your favorite cabled headphones and recharge the phone at the same time, which is something that most gamers do.
The price is very competitive but before buying it we recommend that you also check out the ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 (Check on Amazon.com), which has both a 90Hz panel and a headphone jack.