Gaming phones are getting more and more popular, and Xiaomi is keeping up the pace with its Black Shark series. The latest iteration, the Black Shark 4 and 4 Pro, have popped up on the Chinese store. You can pre-order one today, with the phones set to release to China on Thursday the 25th. An international release has not been set.
Black Shark 4 Pro
The no-holds-barred Black Shark 4 Pro uses a Snapdragon 888 processor, Qualcomm's biggest and baddest available. It's paired to either 8GB or 12GB of ultra-fast LPDDR5 RAM, with 256GB of storage on both models. But those aren't exactly hard to find these days. The more obvious giveaway that this is a gaming phone are the dedicated mechanical shoulder buttons on the side: slide the locks away to let them pop-up. Like the shoulder buttons on the Black Shark 3, they can be bound to touch areas on the screen for integration with more or less any game.
The 4 Pro uses a 6.67-inch AMOLED 1080p screen, with a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz, beating most gaming phones. It also has two zones of pressure sensitivity (as in the amount of pressure applied, not just touch sensitive), allowing for further integration into games that can support it. Its battery is 4500mAh, pretty typical for a phone this size, but supports fast charging at a completely bonkers 120 watts (with the charger included in the box). Xiaomi says it can charge 90% of the battery in a little more than half an hour.
Cameras on the Pro are respectable: 64MP main shooter, 8MP ultrawide, and 5MP macro, with a 20MP centered front camera. In terms of style, the flat black version actually looks fairly button-down—if you don't notice the side buttons (and the LED triangle logo on the back stays unlit), you'd have a hard time telling it's a gaming phone. Of course that goes out the window if you get the "So Empty Black" version (that's auto-translated, so we're unsure if that's the official name). Its layered, semi-transparent glass shifts around as you look at it, in a much more flashy but not unappealing way.
The phone's a bit chunky at 9.9mm, but that's thick enough to include a headphone jack and side-mounted fingerprint reader. The dual-SIM radio works with 5G, and for absolutely intense sessions, you can clip on the sold-separately cooling module. The Black Shark 4 Pro starts ¥4000 for the base model, black only, bumping up to ¥4500 for the 12GB RAM version. That's approximately $615 and $690, respectively.
Black Shark 4
What about the non-Pro? The standard Black Shark 4 ditches the pricey Snapdragon 888 for an 870, basically a refreshed version of last year's go-to flagship chip. It has an identical body, screen, and battery with 120 watt fast charging, but the base model goes down to just 6GB/128GB. Upgrades all the way to 12GB/256GB are available.
You lose that dual-zone pressure sensitive screen and drop the main camera down to "just" 48 megapixels, but the Black Shark 4 keeps those signature shoulder buttons and most of the rest of the hardware. It costs between ¥2500 and ¥3000, depending on your RAM and storage choices.
Both phones are running JoyUI, based on Xiaomi's MIUI, which has been generally well-received. The phones are launching in China only for the moment, but previous models were made available globally as unlocked devices. With a current boom in gaming phones, it seems likely that the 4 will follow.