Black Shark review

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

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.


The Black Shark hit the market too early – it didn’t have all the software updates it needed and early users, including ourselves, were effectively Beta testers. 

Now we’ve spent over a month with it, it still isn’t bug-free, but it does manage to be a cost-effective way of getting a Snapdragon 845 device with up to 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. 

Gamers like us generally don’t mind being Beta testers, and the appeal of the accessories and the affordability of the ecosystem could make it worth putting up with any remaining kinks that need ironing out. 

If you’re not a gamer, however, or don’t care about the Gamepad 2.0, you’d be better served with a slightly pricier device like the OnePlus 6T

Who it's for

The Black Shark is exclusively for gamers – more so than the Razer Phone 2 and the Asus ROG Phone, given the fact that it’s less polished than either. 

Its imperfections deliver the kinds of quirks that might not irk gamers given the price, but we’d expect more from a flagship smartphone nonetheless. 

Should I buy it?

If you’re on a budget, and want the absolute maximum bang for buck in terms of power, then yes, you absolutely should buy the Black Shark. 

It packs the same amount of power as top-end gaming phones and costs two-thirds of the price. 

Looking for other options? Check out the following Razer Phone 2 alternatives:

Asus ROG Phone

The Asus ROG Phone is the poster child for gaming phones done right. It features innovative Air Triggers, has a great OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate, and was launched alongside a huge range of accessories. 

Unlike most gaming phones, it also has a great battery and camera, though it does cost more than the competition. 

Read our full Asus ROG Phone review

Razer Phone 2

The Razer Phone 2 looks slick, but with its 16:9 aspect ratio display it also looks a bit dated. 

The screen’s 120Hz refresh rate is unique and beautiful, and it beats the Black Shark from an ergonomic point of view, with flat sides and front-firing speakers. Where the Black Shark edges ahead is price and accessory options.  

Read our full Razer Phone 2 Review

iPhone XS Max

If you don’t mind last-gen internals, the Honor Play is an even more cost-effective phone than the Black Shark, but a huge screen and a much more polished interface could swing things in its favor. 

While it features a mono speaker and has less RAM, the microSD card slot should help any file-hoarders who are worried about filling up the Black Shark’s capped internal storage.

Read our full Honor Play review

OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T manages to deliver the same Snapdragon 845 chipset, up to 8GB RAM and more storage, with a base capacity of 128GB. 

While it doesn’t have microSD card support, we’d pick double the internal storage over a card slot anyday. That said, for gaming, the Razer Phone wins out thanks to far superior speakers that are near impossible to cover up, and a more gaming-centric shape.

Read our full OnePlus 6T review

First reviewed: January 2019

Image credits: TechRadar

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.