Xiaomi is one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in China and has grown rapidly to become
one of the world’s leading electronics companies. They have multiple smartphone brands that are run by Xiaomi Corporation, the Mi series, Redmi series, POCO series and of course the Black Shark series.
The Black Shark series is an exclusive gaming based smartphone range, the brands aim is to provide good gaming experiences to all, even those on a slightly lower budget and is built on a gamer centric vision. With this vision in mind they developed their phones with the best possible technology for gaming being one of the pioneers to introduce next level liquid cooling in their phones and dedicated imaging chips that deliver amazing visuals. They also manufacture other gaming hardware like gamepads, cooling systems and gaming triggers to provide that all round ultimate experience.
Xiaomi Black Shark series launched in 2018 and is currently in its fourth generation with the release of the newest Black Shark 4, the most powerful of them yet. It comes with everything that is amazing about Black Shark, the revolutionary cooling systems, powerful processing, a great screen that has stunning visuals and a triple camera for those occasional pictures.
The Xiaomi Black Shark 4 officially announced on March 23, 2021 and launched in Singapore the same month. It features a Super AMOLED display which is 6.67 inches with quick refresh rates and a lightning fast touch sampling rate, a powerful Snapdragon 870 5G chipset with an Adreno 650 GPU for smooth play. The triple camera comes equipped with 48 MP primary, a secondary 8 MP, 5 MP macro and a 20 MP front selfie camera. The battery is a 4500 mAh non removable and supports fast charging coming with a 120 W charger. It also has a special surprise for enthusiastic gamers, more about this later.
Xiaomi Black Shark 4 Singapore price (@Red White Mobile)
The Black Shark 4 comes in multiple variants, lowest being the 128 GB ROM 6 GB RAM, 128GB 8GB RAM, 128GB 12GB RAM and highest is the 256GB ROM 12GB RAM version.
The Black Shark 4 is priced at 715 SGD for the 128 GB 6 GB version, 755 SGD for 128 GB 8 GB, 817 SGD for 128 GB 12 GB and 965 SGD for the highest 256 GB 12 GB version.
The Xiaomi Black Shark 4 comes in a nice stylish looking black box with touches of green, it has very cool graphics all over with hologram designs that also form an X on the front with the Black Shark logo neatly placed in the center of it, seems more like there would be a graphics card rather than a phone inside. The Black Shark name and logo also feature in corners on both sides of the box, and basic manufacturing information on the back.
In the box is one Black Shark 4 handset, one fast charge power adapter, one USB Type-C data cable, sim card ejector pin, screen protector, protective case which fits on well, a couple of logo stickers, warranty card and quick start user guide.
Xiaomi Black Shark 4 Design and Display
The Xiaomi Black Shark 4 comes in a nice variety of colours, Mirror black, pale grey, a dark blue, silver and matt black. It comes with back panels that have an X shaped holographic pattern with the Black Shark logo, which looks ok but could have been made better. Although there is a plain version available.
Looks wise it’s quite typical with the usual curved glass finish on the back panel, metal frame all around and a glass screen as well. There is no mention of it being Gorilla glass so better to be a bit extra careful while handling this phone. The cameras are set in the center on a hexagon shaped island which gives the phone a tougher look.
The Black Shark 4 measures 163.8 mm x 76.4 mm x 9.9 mm (6.45 x 3.01 x 0.39 inches), which may feel a bit too big in your pocket but not so when playing your favorite games. The phone weighs 210 grams with the cooling system probably being one of the factors tipping the scales. It feels a bit top heavy but not so much that it matters.
The power button is located on the right side and doubles as the fingerprint sensor and is placed in a low cutout so it can’t be pressed accidently while gaming and is also easy to reach with the thumb. On the left is the volume slider and dual sim tray, A pair of symmetrical stereo speakers are located on the top and bottom of the phone next to the USB charging port and 3.5 mm headphone jack.
And as for that gamers surprise! The Xiaomi Black Shark 4 has actual physical shoulder triggers that have magnet lift technology which make them appear out of the blue on demand with a light touch of the buttons, the triggers seem console like and personally feel more satisfying than the regular touch sensitive ones, they are responsive and provide precise, customizable control to gain that edge in competitive gaming, When they are not needed the triggers can be put back down to sit seamlessly with the edge of the phone.
The Black Shark 4 comes with a Super AMOLED, HDR10+ certified screen but is not IP rated due to the various ports and triggers. It measures 6.67 inches with a 107.4 centimetre squared screen size with a 85.8% screen to body ratio and a 20:9 full screen aspect ratio, Resolution is 1080 X 2400 pixels. The bezels on the Black Shark 4 are minimum with a very small symmetrical chin and forehead which gives of a more premium look. The punch hole cut out for the selfie camera is also tiny, which does not make it feel like it’s in the way when viewing video or gaming compared to others out there.
It comes with a blazingly fast refresh rate of 144 Hz, and an even faster touch sampling rate of 740 Hz which gives it one of the lowest touch delays of just 8.3 milliseconds which allows for a smoother and more responsive gaming experience. It has a 500 nits maximum brightness which can go up to 700 nits in auto mode outdoors, its DCI-P3 105% colour gamut makes for stunning images.
This screen supports eye protection mode, image enhancement, motion estimation and motion compensation (MEMC) which works by artificially adding frames to a video with a low frame rate so that it has a higher frame rate and gives it that smoothened effect. Although the Black Shark 4 supports a 144 Hz refresh rate it uses 120 Hz on the home screen, as of now games that support a 144 Hz refresh rate are still rare, few being Shadowgun Legends, Deus Ex Go, Hill climb racing 2, Vainglory, Alto’s adventure, FZ9 Timeshift and Final Fantasy XV. The 144 Hz setting can be forced in game settings but without support does not work that well.
That said this screen is good with deep OLED blacks and good colour accuracy, even use outdoors is not a problem thanks to its brightness levels, the super-fast touch response rate makes every move instant in game, a sure plus.
Xiaomi Black Shark 4 Performance and software
In terms of performance, the Qualcomm SM8250-AC Snapdragon 870 5G (7 nm). It has an octa core CPU with a layout of 1×3.2 GHz Kryo 585, 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 585 and 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 585. It is not the absolute best that’s available today but is still a powerful processor, compared to its predecessor the Black Shark 3 with the Snapdragon 865, it is about 10 % faster. The GPU is an Adreno 650 clocking in at 670 MHz. It scores well on most benchmark tests, on AnTuTu: 617456 (v8), GeekBench: 3448 (v5.1), GFXBench: 54fps (ES 3.1 onscreen).
Continued performance is particularly important for gaming phones, CPU and GPU heat being the main issues, the Black Shark 4 secured good results in CPU tests and was able to retain 95% performance during stress tests, and recorded no sudden drops in performance that ensured smooth gameplay throughout. It does tend to heat a bit but thanks to the Xiaomi Black Shark 4s advanced cooling system it is not uncomfortable at all during gameplay. The “Sandwich” liquid cooling system with its patented weld technology uses two separate cooling units, one between the motherboard and display, and the other between motherboard and back panel, these encase the internal heat producing components to give a claimed increase in heat dissipation of a good 30 % which is definitely appreciated.
Black Shark also have external cooling systems that can be bought separately, these are powered by a USB Type C connector which can come from an external charger or the phone itself and pairs with the phone using the Shark space software via Bluetooth.
Memory comes in different variants, RAM is available in 6 GB, 8 GB and 12 GB which is LPDDR5 dual channel, 2750 MHz and ROM comes in 128 GB and 256 GB versions and is the newest and fastest UFS 3.1 type. It does not have a slot for memory expansion.
Connectivity comes through Wi-Fi 802.11, Bluetooth 5.2, A-GPS, NFC and USB Type-C 2.0 and for sensors it has a side mounted fingerprint sensor within the power button, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, gravity sensor, ambient light sensor and barometer.
The Black Shark 4 has dual symmetrical speakers 24-bit/192kHz audio, these are located on the top and bottom producing well balanced sound, they have been tuned in partnership with DTS and Cirrus Logic Technology, and score – 27.4 LUFS which is good. It also comes with a 3.5 mm audio jack.
The Xiaomi Black Shark 4 comes with Android 11 along with Xiaomi’s very own gaming specific UI the JOY UI version 12.5 which does have a few themes, wallpapers and gaming features compared to the regular MIUI on other Xiaomi phones but hopefully gets better with newer versions. One of the customizable features is the always on display, sunlight mode, the Shark space app that allows management of game collections, syncing of accessories, an in game assistant to access settings and modes and global settings like locking brightness levels, mistouch prevention and rejecting incoming calls/notifications.
Xiaomi Black Shark 4 Cameras and Battery
Like all gaming phones cameras are not exactly a priority, the Black Shark 4 comes with a triple camera setup, the primary is a classic 48 MP wide lens with auto focus, an F 1.8 aperture and pixel size of 0.8 micrometre. Secondary is an 8 MP ultrawide with a 120 degree field of view, an F 2.2 aperture and 1.12 micrometre pixel size. Third would be the 5 MP macro with auto focus and F 2.4 aperture, and LED flash that supports all. Videos shoot in 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/240fps and 1080p@960fps.
The front selfie camera is 20MP with an F 2.0 aperture and 0.8 micrometre pixel size and shoots video in 1080p@30fps.
The battery in the Black Shark 4 is a 4500 mAh Lithium Polymer non removable, and has fast charging with a 120 W adapter, it charges from 0 to 100% in 19 minutes, just crazy.
Due to the Black Shark 4s price point and not much competition in this segment, those really useful and accurate physical gaming triggers, the advanced cooling, a nice big and bright HDR10+ AMOLED screen, fast refresh rate of 144 Hz, good sounding speakers, insane charging speeds and long dependable performance gives it a good score overall and at a reasonably priced 965 SGD for the 12 GB 256 GB version, it is a good buy for heavy gaming at a low cost.