The Black Shark 5 Pro puts grace in gaming phones

You know the drill now. A new gaming phone is launched, it has trigger buttons, some kind of cooling technology, sub-par cameras and a gigantic body that makes it an unwieldy daily driver. The Black Shark 5 Pro uses some of the same formula, but it’s more graceful with the shutters and has a 108MP camera, plus a cooling system that actually works. After playing on this smartphone for three days now, I am impressed with the amount of features it offers.

Impressive hardware across the board

The The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 powered smartphone has a lot to offer apart from the flagship processor. For one, it has a class-leading OLED display with a 144Hz refresh rate and 720Hz touch sampling rate. Second, the trigger buttons bring something new to contextual buttons.

The Black Shark 5 Pro has two fairly responsive pop-up magnetic triggers. When not in use, you can make them disappear using the hardware toggles located right next to the two trigger buttons.

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During the game India Mobile Battlegrounds (which is basically PUBG), I configured the left trigger to fire and the right to aim. As a result, I had more screen space to watch while aiming to shoot enemies. It was the same with Asphalt 9. I configured the left trigger for drift and the right one for boost. The gaming experience was more enjoyable because I had the whole screen to look at without the intrusion of two big thumbs.

While the ROG Phone 5 has the same functionality, its trigger buttons are flush with the sides. In contrast, the Black Shark 5 Pro’s two pop-up magnetic triggers can be activated to rise above the sides, giving you a more intuitive experience. And when you want to use the Black Shark 5 Pro like a normal smartphone, you can turn them off and discreetly hide them on the right edge.

Light effect on the screen of the Black Shark 5 Pro.
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You can put all the gaming features you want in a smartphone, but it wouldn’t matter if the display was bad. Fortunately, the Black Shark 5 Pro excels in this area. It boasts a 6.67-inch OLED display with 10-bit color depth and 1080 x 2400 resolution. In other words, it’s a very crisp display to look at.

You can choose from three refresh rates other than 144Hz — including 120Hz, 90Hz, and 60Hz — depending on your preference. It’s also a pressure-sensitive screen that makes it easy to get precise movements. The company calls it Magic Press, and it’s mappable to customize however you see fit. The low touch lag of 8.3 milliseconds is another addition that keeps the display as responsive as possible.

The Black Shark 5 Pro didn’t run too hot even during extended gaming sessions. While I could feel it warming up, there was nothing to worry about thanks to the new liquid cooling system. You have the choice between 8 GB, 12 GB and 16 GB of RAM, as well as 128 GB or 256 GB of storage. Linear dual-symmetry stereo speakers deliver an intuitive gaming experience.

A really useful game software

The Black Shark 5 Pro runs JoyUI 13, which is based on MIUI 12, which is based on Android 11. Too bad the device does not come with the latest stable version of Android. During my brief use, the phone did not slow down or experience any issues with the interface. And while the outdated software is a shame, the suite of gaming features built into Shark Space 4.0 helps make up for that.

You can access Shark Space by pressing and holding both shoulder trigger buttons at the same time. The software function allows you to adjust the main touch settings, network status, performance, Do Not Disturb, etc.

Black Shark 5 Pro Asphalt 9 on screen.
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During the game India Mobile Battlegrounds for the first time, the system asked me to swipe down from the top right corner to access Shark Space. This then allowed me to assign functions to both trigger buttons via Master Control. When you set up Master Control, it pauses the game so you don’t miss important scenarios.

You also get game macros that can be programmed for specific scenes in the game, allowing repetitive actions to be performed via one-key execution. Another feature I liked was the motion detection, which lets you control the game with the movement and movement of your smartphone. You can perform up to six gestures in total, including turning left or right, leaning left or right, and tilting forward or backward.

There are a plethora of other settings like Game Studio Setting (customize performance, display, touch and audio settings), Ludicrous Mode (enables extreme performance), etc. Feature-rich gaming software makes the Black Shark 5 Pro a strong contender for one of the best gaming smartphones.

Non-gaming goodness

Although the processor, screen and software are the most important specifications, these are not the only aspects of the Black Shark 5 Pro. Starting with the cameras, which I couldn’t test during the scorching Delhi heatwave, the Black Shark 5 Pro packs a 108MP primary camera. It is accompanied by a 13MP ultra-wide angle camera and a 5MP macro lens. The smartphone is capable of shooting 4K video at 60 frames per second (fps) and 1080p slow motion at 120fps, 240fps and 960fps. On the front is a 16MP selfie shooter.

The Black Shark 5 Pro packs a 4,650mAh battery that supports 120W fast charging. It went from 10% to 100% in 20 minutes for me. There is a small group of lines on the right side of the camera module, which supports light effects. You can map it to different lights in the settings.

Black Shark 5 Pro price and availability

The Black Shark 5 Pro costs $799 for the base model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It goes up to 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for $999, with a 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage model in the middle for $899. The vanilla Snapdragon 870 powered Black Shark 5 starts at $549 for the base variant which has the same amount of RAM and storage.

Black Shark 5 Pro back in hand.
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While we haven’t had enough time with the Black Shark 5 Pro to give it the full review treatment, there’s a solid foundation here for a solid gaming phone. Thanks to the capable chipset, excellent display and gaming-focused software, Black Shark knows its target audience. If you’re interested, the Black Shark 5 Pro is available now from the Black Sharks website and Amazon.

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