Black Shark 4 Review: The Most Cost-effective Gaming Phone in H1 2021

The main reason why we love this model is the pricing. The global version of the Black shark 4 starts from 499 USD and is officially available now. It’s easily the most cost-effective gaming phone that you can buy globally in 2021.

Black Shark 4 Review: The Most Cost-effective Gaming Phone in H1 2021

By Paco Zheng

When it comes to gaming phones, Black Shark is a brand that cannot be ignored. Most of you already know that this brand is focused on gaming phones since it was founded back in 2018, but how about the fact that the brand is invested by another well-known brand, Xiaomi.

So on these Black Shark models, some features remind us of the typical Xiaomi touch, such as the operating system based on MIUI, and, of course, the great value of money. 

So today, the phone that we are going to share with you is one of their latest gaming models, the Black Shark 4. The main reason why we love this model is the pricing.

The global version of the Blackshark 4 starts from 499 USD and is officially available now. It’s easily the most cost-effective gaming phone that you can buy globally in 2021. So if you are thinking about buying the Black shark 4, please check the link here. Considering its popularity in China, we’re pretty sure that it will soon be out of stock. 

And even when compared to the Pro version, there’s no doubt that the standard Blackshark 4 is better value for money. You can check the comparison down below. To be honest, most upgrades on the Pro didn’t lead to a big difference in the gaming experience.

Black Shark 4 Review: Design 

The Black Shark 4 series’ design has changed a lot compared to their previous models. Now the Black Shark 4 looks much closer to a regular phone, being simplified and low-profile. The phone no longer has uneven surfaces with a combination of metal and glass on the rear design. Instead, it’s made up of a whole piece of smooth glass reshaping the phone’s appearance and giving gamers a different holding experience.

But thanks to the pop-up shoulder triggers, the Blackshark 4 is still one of the few gaming phones that offer the best gaming operation. Compared to others’ touch or pressure-sensitive buttons, the pop-up triggers can provide more intuitive physical feedback and give gamers a similar gaming experience to the gamepads. 

About these two buttons, you can also customize them for special uses in different scenarios beyond gaming. For example, we can define the bottom Trigger as the switch of the one-hand mode to greatly improve the efficiency during one-hand use and even customize the top button for instant screenshots.

And in the camera app, we can use the bottom button as the shutter button, while keeping the top one for zooming in. And by the way, the simulated mechanical sound effect of the trigger switch is so delightful that I can’t help sliding it from time to time. 

As a gaming phone, the Black Shark 4 is not too heavy or bulky. It won’t cause much discomfort for long-time gaming. But at the same time, the relatively compact body does not allow the phone to feature a large battery as compared to other gaming phones.

Therefore, to make up for the 4500mAh battery, Black Shark surprisingly features a 120W fast charging, which is one of the fastest charging solutions that you can have on a smartphone so far. 

Black Shark 4 Review: Display

Now let’s look at its front. The Blackshark 4 features a 144Hz 1080P hole-punch display. And this display is made of the same Samsung E4 panel as the Mi 11 series, so there is no need to worry about the display quality. In the actual test, my eyes didn’t really feel discomfort after playing games for a long time on the phone. 

And thanks to the dual forward-facing speakers, the phone is really good at delivering wonderful sound quality with stereo effect without using earphones. Or if you prefer wired audio quality rather than using the speakers, Blackshark was kind enough to reserve the 3.5mm headphone jack at the bottom. 

As for in-game software optimization, Blackshark developed an official app to help you manage installed games with a customized running performance setup.

And if you are fond of using the official accessories, you can also manage the setup of these gaming equipment in the same app. Among these gaming accessories, there is an excellent cooling fan accessory that helps the phone achieve better performance output without suffering any heating issue. It’s the latest Funcooler 2 Pro. 

This external cooling fan is easily the best one that we’ve ever used. We will show you its cooling effect in actual gaming very soon. 

Black Shark 4 Review: Performance & Gaming

The Snapdragon 870 chipset in the Blackshark 4 is already able to handle almost all Android games without any performance issues. Although the results shown in the benchmarks indicated a performance gap between the 870 and the 888 chipsets, in actual use and gaming, the experience gap is really unperceivable. 

Now let’s check out the results of actual gaming.  

In the PUBG Mobile China version, we found a way to turn on 90fps framerate support under HDR graphics on the Blackshark 4. But by far this method is only available on Blackshark 4 and doesn’t work on the other latest models.

The framerate easily went up to 90fps and remained at 89.04fps on an average during the entire test. By the way, gamers would definitely enjoy playing the game with the pop-up triggers. They are the best shoulder buttons for the PUBG Mobile that we’ve ever played with. 

The second game we ran was Genshin Impact. The Blackshark 4 again presented excellent stability over the running framerate. There wasn’t much fluctuation during the 30-minute test and meanwhile, it maintained an average framerate at 54.8fps, which is also one of the best performances that we’ve tested on a phone running the Snapdragon 870. 

Then we ran the game Nimian Legend as our final stress test. The result was also not bad at all. The average framerate of 51.72fps also proves its strength as a gaming phone. But meanwhile, if we look closer at the CPU temperature, it’s obvious that the phone applied such an aggressive CPU strategy that it even allowed the CPU temperature to run up to 72℃. And it also led to a pretty hot holding experience.

Then we decided to connect the official cooling accessory, the Funcooler 2 Pro. Well, this cooling monster didn’t disappoint us. In its frozen mode, the CPU temperature dropped by over 5℃.

And over the running framerate, it achieved an improvement of around 2.1fps with less fluctuation. Even if you are not playing games with Blackshark phones, we still recommend it as the best phone cooler for you.

Black Shark 4 Review: Battery Life & Charging

The battery life of the 4500mAh capacity didn’t bring us surprises, and this battery doesn’t really match its performance as a gaming phone. But fortunately, we have the 120W fast charge, which greatly comforts my anxiety every time it’s running out of power. The full charge only took us 16mins. Yes, 16 MINUTES! It’s pretty insane when you look at the rapidly rising battery percentage. 

As for the audio quality of the speakers, there is nothing we could complain about. All we can say is that the speakers here are also one of the best stereo mobile speakers.

Black Shark 4 Review: Verdict

Unlike the Legion 2 Pro that we reviewed last week, the Black Shark 4 seems to care more about the balance between being a phone and a gaming machine. Probably you would complain about its common appearance, but if you truly use it for gaming, it won’t disappoint you with the excellent performance and friendly operation.

In addition, Black Shark has developed some interesting gaming accessories for their phones. So if you are not satisfied with the performance of the model, those kinds of accessories are able to improve your gaming experience to some extent.

Originally published at Gizmo china