We have arrived at the fourth generation of the gaming smartphone par excellence. Will Black Shark 4 have convinced more than its predecessors? Or should we still expect some flaw in optimization?
You will find the answer in our complete test.
Before going into the review, let's start with what is the contents of the package:
- Black Shark 4
- 65W charger
- USB Type-C Cable
- Hard plastic cover
- Black Shark stickers
- Quick Start Guide in Chinese
Dimensions and aesthetics
Less aggressive than previous generations, Black Shark 4 maintains its “tamarro” look with a glossy back cover that reveals a texture that creates plays of light, without taking your eyes off the company logo too much positioned in the center of the rear body. The latter, made of plastic and modeled ad hoc for a curved effect on 4 sides, is interrupted exclusively by the triple camera which is positioned horizontally.
Black Shark 4 is not a smartphone that pays much attention to subtleties: this is demonstrated by the thickness that reaches 9,9 mm but which allowed the designers to insert two magnetic levitation buttons on the side frame, the Master Triggers. These, after being mechanically unlocked, allow the user to take advantage of a videogame experience worthy of the brand name.
In addition, we find the power button that integrates the sensor for fingerprint recognition, well positioned at "distance of the thumb" to be immediately ready to unlock the smartphone.
On the other side on the side frame we find, instead, the trolley of the two SIMs and the volume rocker flanked by a microphone for the reduction of environmental noise. On the upper and lower body, however, we find the two stereo speakers, the USB Type-C input and the slot for the audio jack from 3,5 mm, as well as another microphone for ambient noise reduction and the main microphone.
Dimensions x 163,8 76,4 9,9 mm x
Weight 210 g
It is certainly the display that reigns supreme on this Black Shark 4. In fact, we are talking about a display dedicated to hardcore gamers: 10 ″ SuperAMOLED HDR6.67 + display which, side by side with a Adreno GPU 650 and to a Snapdragon 870 SoC (7nm), allows you to play at refresh rates up to 144 Hz.
Black Shark has seen fit to enrich its "playground" with accessories dedicated to gaming, such as the controller pro and wired earphones both in the "standard" version (20 euros per change) and in the "pro" version (30 euros at the change), but also with accessories that wink at those who are passionate about competitive games and therefore your smartphone would strain from morning to night. We are talking about the charger from 120W (full recharge in just 17 min) and the RGB heatsink FunCooler 2 Pro (25 euros) which allows you to cool the Black Shark 4 during intense gaming sessions.
I was able to carry out a game session of about half a day and I must say that the Black Shark 4, flanked by the FunCooler 2 Pro, has never suffered from overheating. But a criticism of Black Shark is a must: the heatsink, in fact, is not equipped with a battery and needs to be powered, conditioning the gamer who must necessarily have a powerbank with him.
Obviously I don't feel like comparing the videogame experience of a smartphone with the one you can have with a portable console, especially for the quality of the specific games of the Android platform which is always inferior to those of a Nintendo Switch, for example.
To complete the hardware sector we find one battery from 4500 mAh with double cell (i.e. a double 2250 mAh battery) which, as mentioned, allows you to drastically reduce charging times: I personally test the charging with the 120W charger and it took 20 minutes for a full charge. If you do not want to equip yourself with this charger, however, know that the 65W model guarantees charging times in the order of 40 min.
The cameras of the Black Shark 4
Obviously Black Shark has strongly focused on gaming, as also demonstrated by the accessories that will be launched on the market. But a smartphone is still a smartphone and we are still technology-loving reviewers, so a comment on the photographic sector is a must.
This year the Black Shark 4 features three rear cameras, respectively a 48 MP (f / 1.8) main camera, an 8 MP (f / 2.2) ultra wide-angle camera and a 5 MP (f / 2.4) macro lens. On the selfie side, however, we find a 20 MP front camera (f / 2.45).
I had the opportunity to try the Black Shark 2 about two years ago and, at the time, I found it very disappointing on the photographic side. But on the other hand ... it was still a smartphone developed for gaming!
This year, however, I was strongly intrigued by the VLOG function within the camera app that allows you to take advantage of some presets to record short movies with an almost professional effect. The details can be found in the video review.
Unfortunately, I must note, however, that the photographic sector has improved but without major upheavals: in low light conditions, the shots are extremely mixed and poco defined, as if the software management automatically set very high ISOs, resulting in high noise levels. At first I thought it was a problem exclusively related to low light conditions, but even when conditions improve, the reworking of the shot produces an almost artificial sharpness, creating a “cartoon” effect.
This Black Shark 4 it still allows video recordings in 4K resolution (up to 60 fps) but gives its best at 1080p as the focus reacts with greater reactivity to this resolution. As you can see from the video recorded during the review, in 4K resolution, it was necessary to click on the display to "wake up" the software and focus. An extremely positive note, on the other hand, is the fluidity of recording which, despite the absence of stabilization, is pleasant.
Gaming, software and conclusions
Those who buy a Black Shark are certainly aware that they are faced with a monster of power to be able to play, but at the same time they are well aware of not having a top of the range in their hands in other respects. This is not the case with the audio compartment multimedia, enriched by two stereo speakers positioned on the upper and lower body. The chosen position is wise by Black Shark since, in the event that the smartphone was placed on a base, the audio would not be muffled while still guaranteeing cinematic quality.
Slightly different speech for the JOY UI. The software is very immature when compared with the most famous Android customizations, but despite this the improvement compared to the UI of two generations ago is evident: you can see it for example from the care of the animated icons in the settings menus. What I would like to highlight, however, is that even if the phone has received numerous updates - almost one every two days - some trivial aspects have remained unresolved: I am referring to some items of the Performance Manager menu that, regardless of the selection of the Italian as the system language, remain in the unknown language.
Come on Black Shark! It is from these little things that you can see how much a brand cares about users.
Overall, this Black Shark 4 fascinated me, but at the same time left me some perplexities. Perhaps because I had never tried a 144Hz refresh rate on a smartphone also equipped with 5G connectivity, but the fact is that I am left with a bitter taste in my mouth basically for two aspects: it will certainly be a market choice, but the non-expandability of the internal memory on a smartphone in which - I imagine - a large slice of memory will be dedicated to games , does not allow the user to move multimedia files to a MicroSD. On the other hand, the UFS 3.1 memories were a big step forward by Black Shark and another little effort would have given that something extra. I cannot, however, explain theabsence of the NFC sensor which becomes almost an obligation nowadays, given the explosion that has taken place in contactless payments.
Black Shark, I liked you this time, but you could have applied yourself more!
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Black Shark 4 is a complete and balanced phone, definitely devoted to gaming but not only.
- SuperAMOLED display
- Refresh rate up to 144 Hz
- Ultra-fast 120W charging
- 5G connectivity
- Lack of NFC
- Memory Expandable