Game phones are becoming more and more popular, and Xiaomi is keeping up with the Black Shark series. The latest iteration, Black Shark 4 and 4 Pro, has appeared in the Chinese store. You can pre-order one today, with the phones set out for China on Thursday the 25th. An international release is not set.
Black Shark 4 Pro
The non-excluded Black Shark 4 Pro uses a Snapdragon 888 processor, Qualcomm’s largest and worst available. It is paired with either 8 GB or 12 GB ultra-fast LPDDR5 RAM, with 256 GB of storage on both models. But it’s not exactly hard to find these days. The more obvious giveaway that this is a gaming phone is the dedicated mechanical shoulder buttons on the side: push the locks away to let them appear. Like the shoulder buttons on the Black Shark 3, they can be tied to touch areas of the screen for integration with more or less any game.
4 Pro uses a 6.67-inch AMOLED 1080p display, with a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz, and beats most gaming phones. It also has two zones of pressure sensitivity (as in the amount of pressure, not just touch sensitive), which allows further integration into games that can support it. The battery is 4500 mAh, quite typical for a phone of this size, but supports fast charging of completely bonkers 120 watts (with the charger included in the box). Xiaomi says it can charge 90% of the battery in just over half an hour.
Cameras on the Pro are respectable: 64MP main shooter, 8MP ultra-wide and 5MP macro, with a 20MP center front camera. In terms of style, the flat, black version actually looks quite button – if you do not notice the side buttons (and the LED triangle on the back remains unlit), you will have a hard time telling that it is a gaming phone. Of course, it goes out the window if you get the “So Empty Black” version (it is automatically translated, so we are not sure if it is the official name). The layered, semi-transparent glass shifts around as you look at it, in a much more flashy but not appealing way.
The phone is slightly 9.9 mm thick, but it is thick enough to include a headphone jack and side-mounted fingerprint reader. The dual-SIM radio works with 5G, and for absolutely intense sessions you can cut the purchased module which is sold separately. Black Shark 4 Pro starts at ¥ 4000 for the base model, black only, and bumps up to ¥ 4500 for the 12 GB RAM version. It’s about $ 615 and $ 690, respectively.
Black Shark 4
What about non-Pro? Standard Black Shark 4 ditches the expensive Snapdragon 888 for an 870, basically an updated version of last year’s go-to flagship chip. It has an identical body, screen and battery with 120 watts fast charging, but the base model goes down to only 6 GB / 128 GB. Upgrades up to 12 GB / 256 GB are available.
You lose the two-zone touchscreen and drop the main camera down to “only” 48 megapixels, but the Black Shark 4 retains the signature shoulder buttons and most of the rest of the hardware. It costs between 2500 and ¥ 3000, depending on RAM and storage options.
Both phones run JoyUI, based on Xiaomi’s MIUI, which has generally been well received. The phones are only being launched in China at the moment, but previous models were made available globally as unlocked devices. With a current boom in gaming phones, it seems likely that the 4 will follow.