Despite being one of the most powerful gaming smartphones produced by Xiaomi, in reality everything revolves around the Black Shark 4 Pro is based on practicality. Starting from the design, from the mechanical triggers placed on the side frame, up to the camera, the gaming phone of the Chinese giant changes the cards a little bit, compared to other products in the category.
And yes, due to the delayed launch, the presentation in March 2021, and the time passed until the arrival of a global version, it is normal that all Xiaomi fans now set their sights on the new Xiaomi 12 (here the review) and Xiaomi 12 Pro (review here), and the newly arrived Black Shark 4s which, together with the 4s Pro, was presented last October in China.
The point, however, is that, although it is no longer the most recent, with its 144 Hz display and its pure gaming phone soul, the Black Shark 4 Pro still has all the credentials to be defined as one of the best in its category, and thanks to its design and good quality camera, it is as if Xiaomi moved away from the niche of players and addressed a wider user base that yes, he wants a powerful device to play with, but also a product to use every day without too many constraints.
Black Shark 4 Pro review: Xiaomi's gaming smartphone is suitable for everyone
As we have also seen in the Black Shark 4 (here the review), the sales package of the Xiaomi gaming smartphone is characterized by a very captivating plot that follows the style that will then be found in the device. Inside there are the following accessories:
- Black Shark 4 Pro;
- plastic bumper;
- wall power supply with 120W output;
- USB cable - USB Type-C;
- pin for the SIM slot.
Design and materials
After having seen in recent years many gaming phones characterized by a design to say the least poco showy and bordering on "tamarro", I was quite happy to see a countertrend in this small niche of the market which, in Black Shark 4 Pro it is even more evident. The entire back cover of the smartphone is totally smooth, with a texture capable of reflecting very pleasant and not at all intrusive plays of light.
With its 163,8 x 76,4 x 9,9 mm and a weight of 220 grams, the Black Shark 4 Pro it is one of the most compact gaming smartphones, despite the fact that the typical RGB LED of the company has been integrated under the camera module, which is perhaps the only element that suggests that it is not a "normal" smartphone.
Of course, as you might expect from a gaming smartphone it is not among the thinnest devices on the market, especially in thickness, but there is a reason: in addition to the heat dissipation system (which we will talk about shortly) along the body. side of the device two mechanical retractable triggers have been integrated that for avid gamers could bring great benefits: they are physical, which makes them much more comfortable than some solutions we have seen in other competing devices, and for example in Call Of Duty Mobile allow you to have a button to aim and another to shoot.
When you are not playing, then, it is possible to assign quick functions to each of the triggers: by default the button at the top takes a screenshot, but you can also decide to start recording the screen, the mode with one hand or set some works according to the app you are using.
The only problem with these physical keys lies perhaps in the appearance mechanism that could make it too easy to accidentally open them when, for example, you take the device out of your pocket. However, if a trigger were to remain open for too long, you would receive a safety notification.
The fingerprint sensor has been positioned on the power button on the right, there is an excellent system of symmetrical stereo speakers completely independent from the ear capsule, while the entire front area is occupied by the display which, however, continues to be characterized by a strong asymmetry of the upper and lower frames.
The screen of the Black Shark 4 Pro is a glittering 6.67-inch Super AMOLED, with a FullHD + resolution and a refresh rate of 144 Hz. With its 1300 nits peak, it is one of the brightest screens in its class, and this brightness translates into a lively and vibrant picture. dynamic, whether you are gaming or watching a TV series on Netflix.
The contrast and saturation of the panel certainly do not make it one of the most natural in circulation, but the blacks are very deep and it is possible to change the settings in the settings: there is an "Auto" mode that adapts the balance of the panel according to the surrounding environment, or you can choose the "Standard" or "Saturated" mode.
It is then possible to choose between 3 different modes of management of the refresh rate but, personally, I have always used the device by setting it to 144 Hz: in this mode the fluidity of the images is evident, but the battery drain is equally evident, which is much more pronounced. .
The sampling frequency of the touch is also excellent, which, with its 720 Hz guarantees a response to say the least poco immediate with every touch that can be done on the screen.
Hardware and Performance
To animate the Black Shark 4 Pro we think of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 which, in our sample is flanked by 256 GB of internal memory and 12 GB of RAM. In reality, it is also possible to buy a version with 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of internal memory but, let me tell you something: already with 12 GB of RAM the performance of this gaming smartphone is not bad.
Ok, it does not use the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, it is true, but the management of the 888 we find in this device is among the best around. Let me be clear, the Black Shark 4 Pro when pushed to the maximum it heats a lot, but does not suffer from thermal throttling in the least.
And it is an essential feature for a gaming smartphone which, in the AnTuTu stress test and in the 3D Mark one, is very evident: despite the temperature of the device getting very close to 45 degrees, in reality the performance of the CPU and the operating frequency of the various processor cores are among the most consistent around. And this is absolutely a point in favor of this device which, basically, is able to guarantee performance under stress more constant over time than many of the top of the range with Snap 8 Gen. 1 that we have tested in recent months.
Good capsule audio and cellular network reception, but the integrated stereo speaker system is really excellent: the position of the speakers is right, as well as the balance of frequencies that manages - strange but true - to reproduce not only the highs and the mids, but also the bass. From this point of view, the solution integrated into the Black Shark 4 Pro it is like that of the Xiaomi 12 Pro and, if you do not want to play hands-free, you could also use a wired headset to connect to the input for the 3,5 mm jack.
The camera of the Black Shark 4 Pro it's one of those factors you don't expect from a gaming smartphone. Ok, it is certainly not able to compete with the most famous top of the range, but it is probably among the best solutions in a smartphone designed for gaming. The camera compartment consists of a 64 megapixel main sensor with f / 1.8 optics (which is a Sony IMX686), flanked by an 8 megapixel f / 2.2 ultra-wide angle and a 5 megapixel f / 2.4 macro.
Now, leaving out the total uselessness of the macro camera, it must be said that the photographs taken with the main camera are not bad: the dynamic range is well managed, the contrast is present and all the photos are taken with a good saturation, despite the presence of artificial intelligence that could risk accentuating too much contrast and sharpness of the shots.
And the quality of the main camera is also noticeable in night photography: this mode can only be used with this lens and is able to produce rather clean and well managed shots, even with very dark frames.
Things change when you use the ultra-wide-angle camera which, remember, it is not possible to use in night mode and which - even in conditions of good brightness - tends to generate rather poor shots in terms of sharpness and characterized by chromatic aberration. quite noticeable along the edges of the photos.
Good selfies made by the 20 megapixel front camera, good videos that can be recorded at the maximum resolution of 4K at 60 fps but which tend to suffer a little from the lack of optical stabilization in all cameras.
As for software, Black Shark 4 Pro it is animated by Android 11 customized by a "custom" version of MIUI 12.5 called Joy UI. The biggest difference with the more traditional version of the Chinese company's GUI lies in the presence of the “Shark Space”, a tool dedicated to the game in which it is possible to modify and customize a whole series of settings for each of the installed games.
On CoD Mobile for example, you can choose to push processor performance to the maximum and limit background processes in order to get a gaming experience as fast as possible, while with lighter titles instead you can choose not to push. to the maximum in order to improve autonomy.
For the rest, in essence, the rest of the graphical interface integrates everything that could be expected from Xiaomi's MIUI, with all its strengths and defects, but which runs in the most fluid way with a 144 Hz display. and fast as possible.
Battery autonomy and charging
From the point of view of autonomy, the 144 Hz screen and the Snap 888 which - typically - is pushed to the maximum to play, cannot guarantee excellent performance on the 4500 mAh battery Black Shark 4 Pro. With all the settings to the maximum I was able to poco to overcome the 4 and a half hours of display on and in a nutshell starting from the morning with 100% battery, I arrived in the late afternoon with the need to recharge the device.
However, things change if you use it with a slightly more conservative style: in this case one day of autonomy is guaranteed, but with such a display it is almost a shame not to always use 144 Hz.
However, the recharge is excellent, which is guaranteed by the 120w charger present in the package and that in poco more than 10 minutes manages to bring the battery from 0% to 80%. But, you know, in terms of charging technologies, Xiaomi is light years ahead of all other brands.
Price and considerations
The official selling price of the Black Shark 4 Pro is 579 euros but, through the boxes below you could buy it at a discount: on Amazon it is on sale for 529 euros, while on the company's official website it is possible to buy it in flash sale at the launch for 549 euros. And it is a figure that, considering the 144 Hz display and the excellent management of thermal throttling, in my opinion is more than justified.
Also because we are talking about a gaming smartphone, which with the physical pop-up keys and a very fast sampling rate of the touch guarantees very good gaming performance, but it is a product that actually could be interesting even for non-avid gamers. : it has a rather sober but recognizable design, an excellent stereo audio, and a camera that will certainly not be top of the range, but which guarantees more than enjoyable shots with the main sensor.
Of course, autonomy is not the best. But, you know, even powerful cars consume more petrol than small cars.
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