Black Shark 4 Pro hands-on: serious gaming phone for serious gamers (10% off code inside)

Black Shark 4 Pro hands-on: serious gaming phone for serious gamers (10% off code inside)
This story is sponsored by Black Shark. PhoneArena's opinions in this article have not been affected in any way!

Black Shark finally launched the Black Shark 4 Pro worldwide and you can get yours now for only $521 with our special code below! Furthermore, Black Shark was kind enough to send us a 4 Pro so we can get some hands-on time with it!

Smartphones for gamers — that’s a small niche that is still a bit undefined. After all, since most Android flagships have pretty much the same specs, what makes this phone better for gaming than that phone? The design? Extra hardware or software features? Compatible accessories?

Well, yes, all of the above. Gaming phones differentiate themselves by giving you tools that make it easier and more enjoyable to… well, play games.

And here we have the Black Shark 4 Pro. Black Shark is a gaming-oriented sub brand of Xiaomi and its phones excel at giving you great gaming experience at a not very high price.

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Black Shark global store

Black Shark 4 Pro design and gaming buttons

The Black Shark 4 Pro does have that slightly exaggerated aggressive gaming look, but in a very subtle manner. The matte glass back reveals an X-shaped pattern underneath, and there’s a small RGB light on the back, which you can customize or keep completely off.

The phone mostly looks like a regular daily driver, which I appreciate — it’s not trying to be overly flashy and crossing into cringe territory.

Where the Black Shark 4 Pro truly shines is with its gaming shoulder buttons — full hardware keys with an actual click to them that give the smartphone a very “mobile console” feel.

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The two buttons are hidden inside the phone body, sitting flush with it. When it’s time for some headshotting, you flip a couple of sliders and the triggers pop out with a satisfying sound effect.

We’ve seen plenty of smartphones with pressure-sensitive shoulder buttons. But these here are on another level — having actual clicking buttons feels instantly at home for anyone that's looking for a console-like experience. I don’t know how well they will do in the long run, but they definitely work and feel great right now.

Also, I’d like to commend the attention to detail in how the Black Shark 4 Pro was designed. See, it has two side-firing stereo speakers. Both speaker grilles are positioned so when I am gaming, I am not blocking them with my palms or fingers. It just looks too perfectly placed to be a coincidence.

The shoulder triggers are not the only extra hardware controls that we have here. The Black Shark 4 Pro also incorporates a pressure-sensitive screen in a pretty smart way.

The feature is called "Magic Touch". We have two pressure-sensitive areas on the screen — basically, the left and right half. You can set the amount of force they respond to and you can map their functions. While gaming, you usually have both thumbs on the screen, right? With Magic Touch, pressing down with either one will trigger a custom command. So, essentially, you have a total of 4 buttons at the tip of your fingers — the shoulder triggers and the pressure-activated screen.

Each of the buttons and Magic Touch can be turned off or programmed to act in a variety of different manners, depending on what game you are playing.

Black Shark 4 Pro screen and speakers

Of course, a gaming phone needs to have overkill refresh rate and the Black Shark 4 Pro delivers with a 144 Hz display. The touch sampling rate is 720 Hz, making it one of the most responsive touchscreens out there — exactly what gamers want.

It’s a Super AMOLED panel that comes with super-saturated colors out of the box, but thankfully there’s a “Standard” mode that allowed me to tame the colors and bring in a warmer white balance. The resolution is 1080 x 2400 pixels spread across a 6.67-inch diagonal. So, it’s not ultra sharp, but the pixels per inch density is 395, which is perfectly fine.

I already mentioned the stereo speakers before — they are both side-firing, presumably because this position allowed for a meatier and more balanced sound. And yeah, they sound pretty good. The bass is not super deep, but it’s audible. There is a slight upper midrange bark, as in most phones with small speakers, but it’s not very harsh here.

Also, you may have noticed a shocking hole in the pictures — yeah, this phone has a headphone jack! Sadly, not positioned to be super ergonomic if gaming with headphones, but hey, it’s 2022 — I am happy we have one in the first place.

Software and extra features

The Black Shark software is very much based on Xiaomi’s MIUI. Interestingly, here, we have a couple of toggles — we can have the notifications shade be in “Android style” or go with the Xiaomi MIUI style fully.

But the basic apps — weather, clock, gallery, and camera — they are all lifted from MIUI — an interface that is known for having a very smooth, pristine style with large transparent elements, rounded corners, smooth animations, and pleasing graphics.

There are, of course, a couple extra features geared towards Black Shark’s specific gaming purpose. The “Shark Space” hub will house all of your games and basically move to a more mobile console type UI. It also automatically clears memory and tunes the phone’s hardware as soon as you start up a game.

If you want to take a deep dive into Shark Space's settings, you will find that you can fine-tune the phone's performance profile, block notifications and calls while gaming, set up macros, and tinker with other tidbits. In my experience — the default settings work just fine, though I did dive deep into customizing how my buttons and Magic Touch work.

The Black Shark 4 Pro also has its own digital assistant on board... it's Shark Chan — she doesn't do much besides setting your alarm clock, but she can visually appear on your desktop if that's what you want.

The cameras are a 64 MP main shooter, 8 MP ultra-wide, and 5 MP macro camera. On the front, there’s a 20 MP selfie cam. The camera app lets you play with different modes — Portrait, Pro, and a Vlog mode, which quickly creates short clips with various filters synced to a preset music beat.

I can't proceed without quickly mentioning how good the haptics of the Black Shark 4 Pro are. I must admit, at first I didn't even notice how  precise the Black Shark 4 Pro's vibration motor is — it was just so well tuned to the software experience that I took it for granted. Only when I saw an option in settings to tune the motor's strength, I actually noticed how solid and responsive it feels.

120 W charger!

The Black Shark 4 Pro has a pretty modest 4,500 mAh battery. But it comes with a massive charging brick in the box — 120 Watts! That’s a laptop charger right there.

As per manufacturer statements, you can get 50% of power back in just 5 minutes and 100% in 15 minutes. The phone does get warm when charging it up, but there’s a toggle in settings, which will intelligently limit charging in order to control temperature. I’d suggest keeping this on to prolong battery life. The phone still charges very, very fast.

Final word

The Black Shark 4 Pro is finally making its way to Western markets and you can buy one starting today, March 1st, either through Amazon or Black Shark's official website! Pricing starts from $579 / €579 / £489, but you can make use of our special 10% off promo code during this launch period.

A pretty good deal for what you get — Snapdragon 888, 8 GB of RAM (base), 256 GB of storage (base), a great 144 Hz AMOLED screen, pretty good speakers, and awesome hardware controls for gaming.

The camera is decent, considering it's not even this phone's focus or strength. By all means, when you buy the Black Shark 4 Pro, you are getting a great mobile gaming kit that also happens to be a solid smartphone.

Global customers can also check out the regular Black Shark 4, which is currently available on Black Shark's official web store. For a slightly lower price, it cuts some corners, but still comes with the same excellent gaming triggers and a 144 Hz screen!

Buy on Amazon

Use code KSS2LE3M for 10% off!

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