Black Shark is Xiaomi's brand for gaming phones, which offer top specs at not-so-top prices, and we know the next one coming is called the Black Shark 4.
So what could the Black Shark 4 do to trump rivals from Asus, Nubia and Lenovo? Why, we're glad you asked, because we've come up with a wish-list of cool features we'd like to see in the Xiaomi Black Shark 4.
The Black Shark 4 has been confirmed by the brand CEO, so we know it's coming. This joins a few tit-bits of information we already know about the phone and, when we get them, any leaks or rumors about the Black Shark 4.
Latest news: A leaked certification image of the Black Shark 4 contains some curiosities - it's less angular than its predecessor with no LED lights, and has a side-mounted fingerprint scanner instead of an in-display one.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Xiaomi's next gaming-oriented phone
- When is it out? Likely around March 2021
- How much will it cost? Mid-ranged price point
Xiaomi Black Shark 4 release date and price
While the Black Shark 4 has been confirmed, we only know it's 'coming soon'.
The Black Shark 3 was unveiled in March 2020, and the Black Shark 2 was shown off in March 2019, so it's not hard to predict that the next device will debut in March 2021. Saying that, it's possible the Covid-19 pandemic could have had some impact and changed the date.
In terms of price, the Black Shark 3 cost $599 / £539 (around AU$950) for its base 8GB RAM / 128GB storage model, which was pretty affordable given its specs, and we'd expect the 4th-generation model to be roughly in line with that. Perhaps, to hit all the points in our wishlist, the price could be bumped upwards just a touch.
News and rumors
When the Black Shark CEO confirmed the phone, they teased a few specs of it too.
The Black Shark 4 will come with super-fast 120W charging, beating most other phones out there right now, which should power up the handset in less than 15 minutes.
In addition, the phone will have a 4,500mAh battery, which is just a touch smaller than the one in the Black Shark 3, so perhaps we'll see some battery optimisation to balance this out.
The Black Shark 4 passed certification in China, and when it did, an image of it was included. You can see that picture below:
There are some interesting things to note about this. The most obvious is the design - the depicted handset looks more like your average smartphone than a gaming one, as it has no sharp angles, no big shapes, no LED lights, and no red or black color pattern.
Looking closer we see a side-mounted fingerprint scanner and two trigger buttons, but no Shark Space slider for automatically entering the gaming mode. There also seem to be three rear cameras.
Xiaomi Black Shark 4: what we want to see
These are some new features we want to see in the Black Shark 4.
1. A high refresh rate display
The main thing the Black Shark 3's competitors had over it, was that the Xiaomi phone only had a 90Hz display, while other gaming phones reach 120Hz or even 144Hz.
Higher refresh rates in displays can have a particular benefit for gaming - motion can look way smoother and more natural, making action look great. Not all games are optimized for high refresh rates just yet, but the number of titles that are, is growing.
So we'd like to see the Black Shark 4 match its rivals in the refresh rate department. We know the company has the tech - the Xiaomi Mi 10T has a 144Hz display - so let's see it in action.
2. A reachable power button
A minor gripe we had with the Black Shark 3, that for some may be a major gripe, is that the power button on the side was hard to reach with your thumb. The in-screen fingerprint sensor was also quite a stretch away.
To make the Black Shark 4 easier to use for people with smaller hands, we'd like to see the buttons re-arranged so they're easier to reach.
3. Two gamepads
Black Shark sells optional accessories alongside its phones, like magnetic chargers, clip-on cooling pads and game pads to stop you having to use on-screen controls. However for the Black Shark 3, you could only buy a left-hand-side gamepad.
Xiaomi stated the reason was because most people preferred this one, but it's a little odd having to use only one of this gadget, when it was clearly designed to be used in a pair. It just feels odd using only one as it's a little lop-sided.
4. A telephoto camera
It probably seems odd to talk about photography for a gaming phone, but Black Shark devices usually have surprisingly impressive camera arrays given that's not why you're buying the device.
However, since the Black Shark 2, the devices haven't had telephoto lenses for zoom shots, replacing them with ultra-wide and macro lenses instead.
Maybe this is just us, but we take many more zoomed-in shots than wide-angle ones, and a telephoto camera would be far more useful. But it makes most sense of all simply to have both.
The Black Shark 2 had two cameras, the Black Shark 3 had three - let's see four in the Black Shark 4.
5. A higher resolution display
Most smartphone displays right now have 1080p or 2K resolutions, save the odd Sony Xperia phone with 4K or a few cheap phones with 720p. Black Shark has 1080p, like all its competitors, but we'd like to see an increase - if not to 4K, at least to 2.5K.
At the moment few, if any, mobile games are optimized to play in 2.5K or 4K, so it would seem redundant to provide this kind of display. But game makers aren't going to offer high-res options for their games, if the kind of display isn't on the market, so it's a self-fulfilling cycle.
Someone's gotta budge here, and we think it should be the phone makers - after all, we'd still be able to enjoy streaming movies and TV shows in high resolution with this kind of display.
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