As originally promised, Xiaomi's subbrand Black Shark launched its second handset on Monday, debuting the Black Shark 2 some eleven months following the introduction of its predecessor.
While the gaming-centric device doesn't bring many surprises given the extent of leaks and reports that detailed its overall features over the course of the last several months, that doesn't make it any less of an exciting proposition as this is a powerhouse in every sense of that word.
The most obvious upgrade comes in the mandatory chip department where the Snapdragon 845 made way for Qualcomm's latest, greatest, and quite originally named Snapdragon 855. Besides the ability to alternate between more raw processing power for squeezing extra frames out of games and more energy-efficient performance in order to operate for longer on a single battery charge, the Black Shark 2 also ups the ante in the random-access-memory department. In addition to the 6GB and 8GB models which the original Black Shark line also offered, there's now a 12GB variant as well.
In a similar vein, the 64GB storage option was discontinued in favor of a configuration with 256GB of flash memory, at least when looking at the overall net balance. Naturally, the 128GB model is still available, covering both 6GB and 8GB RAM options.
Other notable specifications include a familiar-looking dual-camera setup with two 12-megapixel sensors mounted behind f/1.7 and f/2.2 lenses. On the front, there's a 20-megapixel module with an f/2.0 lens. The unique liquid cooling system used by Black Shark's first Android gaming handset is making a return with its follow-up, as is a 4,000mAh battery. The more efficient SoC should offset the fact an identical cell is fueling a device with a significantly larger display than the first-generation of the family as the Black Shark 2 features a 6.39-inch screen as opposed to a 5.99-inch one.
The display is another major area of improvement for Black Shark as its second-ever handset sports an AMOLED MODULE with a resolution of 1,080 x 2,340 pixels whose edges are pressure-sensitive, allowing users to map certain commands to the same area of the screen and cycle between them depending on the amount of force they're exerting on those surfaces. While it may not be the most practical solution in the world, its potential versatility cannot be ignored, especially in the context of single-player and casual co-op titles.
Much like the first member of the gaming-oriented smartphone range, the Black Shark 2 uses a visual processor from American tech pioneer Pixelworks. Called the Pixelworks Iris, the module is capable of making HDR content out of SDR files, with its Black Shark 2 implementation being an industry first. Pixelworks' True Clarity tech is also part of the package, promising blur-free motion, together with accurate-yet-vibrant colors enabled by the company's True Color platform.
The Chinese vendor jumped on the in-display fingerprint reader bandwagon with the new phablet, though it's using an optical module instead of an ultrasonic one implemented into Samsung's Galaxy S10 range. The lineup will start at the equivalent of $475 and go up to $625, at least in Xiaomi's home country. Outside of China, the Black Shark 2 has already been confirmed for Europe, with its pre-orders being set to start within the next ten days, depending on the market, according to some of the vendor's teases published over the last several hours.
Pixelworks actually named cited March 22 as the exact date when the Blach Shark 2 will become available for purchase but again, its availability will almost certainly vary across regions, especially given how the Xiaomi-financed brand remains primarily focused on online retail channels, hence having a lot of flexibility when it comes to (re)directing stock.
Just as the Black Shark 2 became official, a new report suggested the Razer Phone 3 will be strengthening the mobile gaming niche later this year, in addition to claiming even the mighty and tradition-reliant Nintendo is now reconsidering its previous decision not to pursue an Android gaming handset project.