Gaming phones are a new niche in the smartphone world, filling the gap for hardcore mobile gamers who want the very best in power, longevity, response and cooling.
Black Shark is a specialist in this department - it's a dedicated gaming brand that's heavily invested by Xiaomi - and in mid-March 2019 it revealed its Black Shark 2 gaming phone. Here are five key features and how they make its gaming prowess extra special.
Shark Space and Ludicrous Mode: Maximising SD855 & 12GB RAM
Under the hood the Black Shark 2 has the top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor and can feature up to 12GB RAM. There's no other phone on the market with more powerful specs in this regard, ensuring even the most taxing of mobile games will show at their best.
But unleashing that power to its fullest requires some software intervention. There's a feature called Shark Space, a one-touch mode, which clears up other apps in the background and dedicates as much memory as possible to gaming apps only. That'll mean fast load times.
Then there's Ludicrous Mode, which allows the CPU to perform without limits, which is ideal for amplifying performance - for consistent high frame-rates over long gaming sessions, it's this technology that'll keep everything super smooth. It doesn't overclock, though, we're told.
Direct Touch liquid cooling system 3.0 and battery-powered Cooling Case
But running apps in Ludicrous Mode is a surefire way to cause the Black Shark 2 to overheat? Not with its cooling system: it's a multi-layer liquid system, the exterior of which is part made of graphite for conductivity, that allows heat to dissipate away from all heat area hotspots.
Furthermore, Black Shark 2 is compatible with a Cooling Case which, the company's CEO claimed on stage at the Black Shark 2 launch event in Beijing, can be used to cool the phone by 5C in as little as 10 seconds.
This optional case is battery powered, uses semi-conductor cooling silicone to quickly adsorb heat from the phone's body, and is a bit like strapping a miniature fridge to the back of the phone. It's unlike anything we've ever seen before - and will arrive in May time (its price is still TBC).
Fast Finger low-latency screen with Magic Press pressure sensitivity
Not all screens are made equal. While the 6.39-inch OLED panel featured in the Black Shark 2 is surely the same as produced by Samsung, the Chinese company has ensured it is ultra low latency. It claims a 43.5ms response - although Razer would argue its Razer 2, with faster refresh rate is the better solution - for the most rapid response to your input. Black Shark calls it Fast Finger.
The screen can do much more, though, thanks to a pressure sensitivity system called Magic Press. Think of this like Apple's 3D Touch, where ‘deeper' presses can cause different actions - ideal for triggering different in-game functions that would usually require more finger taps. What's really interesting about Magic Press, however, is that left and right sides of the screen can be adjusted separately, while individual sensitivity adjustment (on a scale from 1 to 7) can be custom set. How's that for ultra gaming geekery?
Long-lasting: 4,000mAh battery capacity with 27W fast-charging
Considerable power means considerable battery drain. But the Black Shark 2 looks to work around this is a number of ways: first, its 4,000mAh battery is a considerable capacity, ensuring longevity from the off; second, there's 27W fast-charging (the same as found in the Xiaomi Mi 9), which is powerful enough to ensure the phone can continue to charge even during gaming sessions, should you so wish. A 30 minute PUBG Mobile session while plugged in will see the phone charge by 15 per cent.
GamePad 2.0 controller: Transform into console, play on the big screen
Gaming phones have often dabbled in expanding beyond the touchscreen experience - the original Black Shark offered a single joystick accessory GamePad in the box, while Huawei offers similar for its Mate 20 X - but the Black Shark 2 steps things up a notch with the GamePad 2.0 controller accessories.
This isn't a controller that's used separately to the phone though. In one form, the left and right components (which are sold separately) clip onto a case behind the phone's body, Nintendo Switch style, for a complete handheld system in the palm of your hand.
Furthermore, you can plug the Black Shark 2 into an external screen, via a HDMI cable, to transmit with minimal lag and play mobile games like you would console games. The same connection can also be used to sync audio and video for real-time live-stream broadcast (using the Black Shark app - although this'll only be in China for now).
The Black Shark 2 gaming phone is on sale in China, with other territories expected to follow in the future. It's priced from ¥3199 (6GB RAM & 128GB storage) to ¥4199 (12GB & 256GB), depending on spec. That equates to £360 to £475 - making it a ultra-powered ultra bargain!