Black Shark review

A gaming phone with bite, or one that bites the dust?

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With 4,000mAh of battery power inside, the Black Shark has plenty of juice on paper, but in tests, it fell short of our expectations.

Ninety minutes of Full HD video playback at max brightness drained 22% battery power. This result may be better than the Razer Phone, but it’s significantly worse than other flagships, including the Google Pixel 3XL, iPhone XS Max and Samsung Galaxy Note 9, not to mention the Asus ROG Phone.

Via Android 8.1, a few power-saving optimizations are available in the settings though, and these should help you get an extra few hours of use out of your phone.

These features include a Battery Saver mode that limits vibration, location services, and most background data. There’s also an option to limit which apps run in the background, as well as a list of the most power-hungry apps running since the phone’s last charge.


Loaded up with a primary 12MP camera with an f/1.8 aperture, and a secondary 20MP, f/1.8 camera with a 2x zoom, the pixel count looks on-point, and the camera setup competes closely with other flagships on the market, save for the omission of optical image stabilization.

There are plenty of shooting modes on board though. Full manual controls – and bokeh effects, in particular – give you the ability to make photos look much better than they do in automatic mode. 

As is the case with most phone cameras these days, feed the Black Shark a lot of light and the pictures it captures will look great, packed with detail. 

The camera has a tendency to occasionally blow out highlights, but it still captures fair amounts of detail in darker areas, something lower-end devices fail to do.

When the lights drop though, the lack of OIS really becomes noticeable. Indoor lighting produces softer pictures with slight ghosting, reflecting the impact of handshake coming through in the end result. 

If you were to challenge the Black Shark to actual dark conditions it would crumble, unless you flicked it into manual mode and put it on a tripod.

As for selfies, the 20MP, f/2.2 front shooter is actually more of a pleasant surprise than the rear camera. It has a torch for low-light situations, an HDR mode for high-contrast selfies, and a usable beauty mode that can be dialed up and down at will.

Video is recorded at up to 4K resolution, with electronic image stabilization kicking in across resolutions. 

Once again, video looks good in good light, but in low light not so much; it’s also worth noting that this isn’t the steadiest digital stabilization we’ve seen – Sony’s, for example, is much better. 

Basil Kronfli

Basil Kronfli is the Head of content at Make Honey and freelance technology journalist. He is an experienced writer and producer and is skilled in video production, and runs the technology YouTube channel TechEdit.