The Black Shark name may not have as much glamour as its rivals, such as ASUS ROG and Razer. However, the Xiaomi subsidiary brand remains to be a top competitor in the gaming smartphone market, surprising many with flagship-worthy performance and features in its products. And in 2020, the brand had recently released the third generation of its smartphone series with the Black Shark 3.
Like its predecessor, the latest gaming smartphone from the brand is available in a standard variant and a Pro edition. The latter would feature higher specs, a bigger display, and even mechanical shoulder buttons. In this hands-on article, as you can already tell by the title, we’ll be focusing on the standard version of the handset. And before you ask, the standard version does not feature shoulder buttons or air triggers whatsoever.
For starters, the Black Shark 3 is pretty hefty and comes in at around 200g. Not a complaint whatsoever, as I do like my phones to have a bit of weight when being held in my hands. That said, it does feel a bit slippery at times – a minor issue that is easily remedied by putting on the silicone cover that’s also provided with the phone.
Unlike typical non-Pro variants, this phone is not a small device whatsoever. In fact, the Black Shark 3 measures roughly the same as a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra in terms of size, albeit being slightly thicker. It features a notchless 6.67-inch screen, with thin bezels on its sides and thicker ones on its top and bottom. The all-screen experience is thanks to the selfie camera module that is situated on the display’s upper bezel.
As for screen quality, I can safely say that the Black Shark 3 excels pretty well. The phone boasts a 2K AMOLED display that outputs punchy and sharp visuals, especially when gaming and watching videos. Not forgetting that you can also set its refresh rate from the standard 60Hz to 90Hz for smoother on-screen motion and animations. One minor caveat is the screen’s overly rounded corners which could crop some apps or videos, especially those that run or viewed in full-screen.
Hardware-wise, the non-Pro variant is definitely not a slouch when it comes to performance, thanks to the Snapdragon 865 chipset and 8GB of RAM. With gaming being its primary focus, I can attest that the phone does perform exceptionally well with 3D titles such as Call of Duty: Mobile, Honkai Impact 3, and War of the Visions: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius.
Powering the phone in its entirety is a 4,720mAh battery that will certainly keep it running for a long while. To charge it up, the battery supports 30W fast charging via USB-C, and 18W through a magnetic port which is located on its back.
Another pleasant surprise is the Black Shark 3’s stereo audio, which is outputted from the top and bottom front facing speakers. The phone actually produces excellent audio, with no signs of breakage or loss of quality even when the volume is set to max. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack for those who prefer a bit of privacy.
The phone’s camera setup may not be as gimmicky as most flagship smartphones, but they do work as advertised. The Black Shark 3 sports a 64MP main camera, a 13MP ultra-wide, and a 5MP depth sensor. Videos can be recorded in either 4K at 30fps or 1080p at 60fps. Also, there are plenty of other modes for photos and videos, such as Slo-mo, Portrait, and so on.
The standard variant of the gaming smartphone isn’t really missing much from Pro edition, save for the larger screen size and the mechanical shoulder buttons. So far, it does provide a good experience in terms of general and gaming use, as well as photography. The Black Shark 3 gaming smartphone is priced at RM2,799 for the 8GB + 128GB configuration, and is now available in Malaysia.