The mobiles developed to squeeze the games have a market gap thanks to their aggressive power, capabilities and design. This is the case of the Black Shark 3, the latest series from the manufacturer specialized in mobile gaming, a phone that does not leave you indifferent in any of its facets. And it has a few.
Gaming mobiles such as the Black Shark 3 are designed to be played, but not only take advantage of the performance for 3D graphics as the power guarantees access almost any task they set out to. So what is it like to live with a ‘beast’ like Black Shark 3? We see it in our in-depth analysis.
Black Shark 3 data sheet
Black Shark 3
6.67 inch AMOLED
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
128GB UFS 3.0
Rear triple camera
64-megapixel main, f / 1.8
20 megapixels, f / 2.2
4G and 5G (SA and NSA)
Dimensions and weight
168.72 x 77.33 x 10.42 mm
Black Shark 3 [5G] 8GB RAM 128GB Dual-Sim, 6.67 “90Hz Display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 + X55, Qualcomm® Adreno ™ 650 GPU, 4720mAh QC4.0 Battery – (Black) (European Version) (Black, 128 GB)
Design: large, heavy and distinctive design
We are used to devices that are categorized as ‘gamer’ having an aggressive design, being large and show off colored LEDs to get the public’s attention. And the mobiles that follow in the wake keep that striking aura, as it happens with our protagonist, the Black Shark 3.
The phone maintains the brand’s design line as it seeks to differentiate itself from the competition with a distinctive rear face: a pair of facing triangles. As soon as you see this face you can already see it distinguished, although it also creates confusion: when looking for symmetry with the set of photographic objectives, looking for the top with the touch seems very difficult. More than once I have grabbed the Black Shark upside down and did not notice until the fingerprint reader lit up where I did not expect.
Confusions caused by the design apart, there is no doubt that its style differentiates the Black Shark 3 from the rest of the phones, at least from the ‘no gamer’. Aggressiveness, straight cuts in the aluminum body, combination of different materials for the back (glass, aluminum and plastic), company logo that lights up along with other color details on the bumps, 4-pin magnetic connector for the optional charging cable and solid to the touch, almost giving the impression that the mobile is a sturdy rectangular block. With the drawback that it slips excessively, the included case comes in handy to prevent falls.
|Height (millimeters)||Width (mm)||Thickness (millimeters)||Weight (grams)||Screen (inches)||Drums||Area (cm2)||Volume (cc)|
|Black Shark 3||168.7||77.3||10.4||222||6.67||4,720||130.40||135.62|
|Nubia Red Magic 5G||168.6||78||9.8||218||6.65||4,500||131.51||128.88|
|OnePlus 8 Pro||165.3||74.35||8.5||199||6.78||4,510||122.9||104.47|
|Huawei P40 Pro||158.2||72.6||8.95||209||6.58||4,200||114.85||102.79|
|Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra||166.9||76||8.8||220||6.9||5,000||126.84||111.62|
|Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro||162.5||74.8||9||208||6.67||4,500||121.55||109.39|
|iPhone 11 Pro Max||158||77.8||8.1||226||6.5||3,969||122.92||99.57|
Ahead the Black Shark 3 surprises by running away from cutouts for the screen: symmetrical frames above and below that hide a front speaker at each end, a solution that does not penalize the surface of use nor the multimedia consumption. In my opinion it is a success.
You can take advantage of the front without notch or holes while containing the dimensions of the mobile and including a double front speaker. Black Shark 3 is proof
On the right side you can see the power button above (too high, it is difficult to reach with one hand) and a slider on the opposite side that activates the game mode (Shark Space). For its part, on the left edge of the phone are the volume buttons (also too high for a comfortable press) and the dual SIM tray. The Black Shark 3 has no SD card expansion.
At the top edge the always welcome headphone jack is appreciated. On the opposite edge is the USB C: centered with respect to the width of the phone, but not taking into account the thickness. This connector is placed on the contour bevel.
Solid construction is one of the keys to the phone. This gives the feeling that the Black Shark 3 is a ‘premium’ mobile, in line with the hardware features. However, dimensions and weight are somewhat exaggerated, two characteristics that will surely keep you away from those looking for a more or less manageable phone. Although it is designed to play, having it in your hand for a long time is tiring; As much as the screen, and its excellent sound, invite you to consume multimedia content for a long time.
Display: good quality and many settings
The screen of the Black Shark 3 amounts to 6.67 inches without being hindered by any cutout, nor holes to include the front camera. Thanks to the upper and lower frames the panel sits symmetrically on the front without any hardware obstructing your vision, a success for those who flee from ‘notches’ and motorized mechanisms. Also, the edges of the screen are straight, no curves that distort the image on the sides.
The screen chosen for the Black Shark 3 is an AMOLED panel with a resolution of 1,080 x 2,400 pixels, refresh rate of 90 HZ, it has HDR10 +, it offers a low latency in the response to touch (270 Hz), includes pressure sensors (Force Touch) and it makes use of an optical fingerprint reader that is placed under the panel. In terms of technology, it is well served, and not only by hardware: the manufacturer’s custom layer, Joy UI (MIUI with a few touches of Black Shark), offers different settings with which to improve the experience.
The screen is a delight: for image quality, for customization and also for the haptic feeling of the ‘Force Touch’. The vibration of the Black Shark 3 is exquisite
The panel is of a high quality, by default it does not show an exaggerated saturation (natural mode offers the best calibration), the color balance remains very accurate and it has sufficiently low brightness levels, not so much the maximum ones (500 nits according to the manufacturer). In direct sunlight the visibility of the screen suffers.
The Black Shark 3 includes a separate DSP chip to improve the image quality that can be activated or left disconnected (sometimes saturates depending on what content, such as games), you can force HDR by software (the obtained tones can be exaggerated) and it allows to raise the frame rate with the ‘Super cinema mode’ (I have not finished appreciating the improvement visibly). All of these options are available in the display settings.
The screen takes great advantage of multimedia content, not in vain the Black Stark 3 is developed specifically for this function. Playing is a real delight, especially if the game is adapted to the 90 Hz refresh rate. This rate has logical logic: activating it means higher energy consumption. The panel itself is a great mAh eater, so it is not convenient to activate 90 Hz unless the app is prepared for it.
Leaving the 90 Hz refresh rate active gives more fluidity to the interface and compatible apps, always at the cost of higher battery consumption
The system flows seamlessly onscreen, especially because of the layer animations. And it stays in line with the enormous power that Black Shark 3 overflows: it has one of the best screens that can be tested on a smartphone, too It is one of the most customizable. In keeping with the Snapdragon 865, the two make a very tough pair to beat.
Sound: good quality and dual front stereo speaker
Black Shark seeks that the listening experience is of a level in this mobile, whether it be listening to music through the speakers or deepening the sound environment of games using Bluetooth headphones. Even wired: It’s not too common for a high-end Black Shark 3 feature to feature a 3.5mm jack.
The front speakers offer enough power, reinforce the bass for a better experience in movies or shooter games, sound distorts at maximum volume (this is exceedingly high, it is understandable) and they do not subtract excessive space from the front; what collaborates in not exceeding the dimensions. It is the best position to enjoy multimedia content.
The Black Shark 3 maintains the excellent level obtained by the stereo speakers also using headphones, whether they are Bluetooth or wired. Great audio quality, rich in nuances, very sharp, with some bass mastery and keeping the bass boost. The pity is that Black Shark does not complement this hearing quality with software sound enhancements, nor does it even offer an equalizer or Dolby Atmos compatibility, something that is already common in high-end and mid-range mobiles. It does maintain the ‘Sound Biso’ already present in previous Black Shark, a enhancement for stereo sound from front speakers. Turning it on greatly boosts audio quality without headphones.
Performance: power for everything you need
Including a Snapdragon 865 inside a 2020 mobile means giving it maximum power for any app or game you want to run. At this point there are no surprises: the Black Shark 3 is a machine tuned to waste performance on every bit. It shows in the speed with which the layer flows, in how quickly the applications start and in the enormous graphic quality to which it comes running any demanding game. It is a delight for those seeking maximum performance, this is not a surprise.
The brand has developed the phone not only so that it turns up when it is demanded, but also to dissipate to the maximum the heat produced by the processing. The liquid cooling system (Black Shark highlights that it resembles a sandwich since it embraces the processor) relieves temperature without thermometer rising too high with games like Fortnite or Asphalt 9, at least in not too intense sessions. Although there is an action in which a noticeable rise in temperature is observed: while the Black Shark 3 charges at 65 W. It is advisable not to play during charging or, at least, to use the fan accessory (not included in the package) . Yes, the mobile manages temperature very well while using the phone.
Let’s see how the Black Shark 3 is shown under the stress of benchmarks: below you have it facing its most direct competition, that of the highest range.
Black Shark 3
NUBIA RED MAGIC 5G
ONEPLUS 8 PRO
HUAWEI P40 PRO
SAMSUNG GALAXY S20 ULTRA
XIAOMI MI 10 Pro
IPHONE 11 PRO
Apple A13 Bionic
GEEKBENCH 5 (SINGLE / MULTI)
920 / 3,435
925 / 3,214
885 / 3,136
943 / 2,527
819 / 2,315
892 / 3,224
1,331 / 3,333
3D MARK (SLING SHOT)
In addition to the Snapdragon 865, and its Adreno 650 GPU, souls of the Black Shark 3, the mobile mounts 8 GB of LPDDR4X RAM (the 12GB model goes up to LPDDR5) and 128 GB of UFS 3.0 storage. It is more than enough for regular use, even if that amount of space can be just enough if you install a considerable amount of games or download many movies. One downside is that the mobile Lacks expansion by SD card, a fact that penalizes you.
Secure authentication comes from the hand of the usual fingerprint reader under the screen. Located in an accessible area to unlock the phone with one hand, the sensor maintains acceptable reliability and speed. I have not encountered problems using this component, even if it is not one of the fastest I have tried of this type. Nor have I had to repeat the reading too many times: Reliability remains at a good level.
A notable drawback in this section is the absence of the NFC, inexplicable in a mobile with the characteristics of Black Shark 3. You have to forget about mobile payments.
Autonomy: crazy fast charge and battery without excessive bragging
The Black Shark 3 is the fastest charging mobile I have ever tried. That is why I describe it as ‘insane’: it is connecting the charger so that the mobile fully revive in just over half an hour. And without the battery falling short of capacity, with its 4,720 mAh it cannot be said precisely that it is small.
Having a super-fast charge of this level is very reassuring since you will never leave the house without a battery: it is enough to have the Black Shark 3 connected to the charger for about 10 minutes to have enough charge to hold hours with moderate use. This, which is a notable advantage, has two drawbacks: on the one hand, the phone gets noticeably hot; on the other, so much stress on the battery surely limit its lifespan. Black Shark does not include a fast charge limiter in the software as other layers do offer, such as Samsung’s One UI.
In terms of duration, the Black Shark 3 can last an entire day. Obviously, and since it is a phone designed to squeeze the maximum power from the hardware, if it is used to play at maximum performance, autonomy suffers greatly, especially if 90 Hz is also activated. On average, I’ve gotten over six hours of screen on a charge even making use of Fortnite and PUBG during long gaming sessions.
The day and a half with moderate use is more than usual, it is also possible to extend it to two days avoiding squeezing the phone and restricting display functionssuch as high refresh rate, DSP, HDR forcing, and Super Cinema mode. In general it does not offer bad autonomy, although it expected a little more than average and under usual circumstances (without restricting applications or battery savings, with the default settings).
Below you have the charging times (0-100%) of the Black Shark 3 with the charger that comes in its packaging, the 65W USB C. The mobile also has charging by magnetic pins, although it drops to 18 W. This cable is not included in the package, although I have tried it: in the accessories section of this analysis I reserve a space for this cable and other accessories available for the phone.
- 5 minutes: 20% battery.
- 10 minutes: 42% battery.
- 20 minutes: 76% battery.
- 30 minutes: 96% battery.
- Total: 36 minutes.
Accessories: from fan with lights to a magnetic cable
The Black Shark 3 comes ‘bare’ in the box: cable and charger, it has minimal instructions, the usual pick to remove the dual SIM tray and a transparent cover. Things change when you go to the accessory store designed for the phone.
Black Shark sent me the test phone with a series of gaming accessories specifically designed to squeeze the phone in games. The aggressive design stays in line with that of the phone itself and with the ‘gamer’ aesthetic; while Power from comfort to phone security.
Getting all the accessories of the Black Shark 3 is not cheap, but they are not essential to take advantage of the phone.
The accessories that I have been able to test are the following.
Magnetic charging cable
Thanks to the four-pin connector anchored to the back of the Black Shark 3, the mobile enables comfortable charging while playing. The power is reduced from 65 to 18 W so that the phone does not suffer problems; while ergonomics is improved (the cable does not disturb when grasping the mobile) and falls are avoided when tripping over said cable. Very comfortable.
Left physical controller
Remarkably improves game control thanks to the quality of buttons and joystick. These buttons are configurable and allow ‘map’ the settings of any game by moving the touch area to the desired areas of the screen.
Fitted to the left side of the Black Shark 3 with its own anchorage system, or used freely thanks to an adapter very similar to that of the ‘JoyCons’ of the Nintendo Switch, the quality of physical control is very high. Now, it has a major drawback: only one left control is available; so there is no choice but to use the touch screen as the right control. Black Shark does not sell a right controller.
Fans: normal and ‘Pro’
I’ve already specified that the Black Shark 3 can get very hot, so it’s not a bad idea to have a fan as a phone accessory if it’s going to be used for long hours of gaming. And not only is there a fan to choose from, Black Shark offers two:
- Normal fan. Compact and powerful enough to lower the maximum temperature by several degrees, its main difference with the ‘Pro’ is its dimensions and the absence of a ‘show’ of lights.
- Pro fan. What characterizes peripherals for ‘gamers? Obviously the lights. Well, the ‘Pro’ fan has lighting on the inside of the accessory, under the blades. In addition, this model comes with USB C cable, the normal one does not have it included.
The fans dissipate the heat very well, especially the ‘Pro’: it is very surprising to turn it on and touch how cold the internal face of the accessory gets, the one that sticks against the back of the Black Shark 3. The anchoring is done without problems, it is firm and, as a problem, it needs a charging cable to work. If playing charging the phone, and plugging in the fan, the Black Shark 3 will have two USB C cables connected.
One last detail is that the ‘Pro’ fan connects via Bluetooth to the phone. This allows from controlling the colors to adjusting the dissipation speed in two levels.
Software: MIUI 11 adapted to a gaming environment
This section is one of those that undergoes more changes with the jump between generations. Because, if the Black Shark 2 boasted almost Android ‘stock’ software, in Black Shark 3 we stumbled upon MIUI 11. As it is. Of course, the manufacturer applies certain brush strokes of its own to the layer; ranging from a custom theme to relevant improvements designed to enhance games.
MIUI 11 JoyUI 11 is updated to the latest stable version of the system, Android 10. And, as of the date of publishing this review, it maintains a somewhat old security patch: February 2020. Generally speaking, there is not much more to add regarding the layer that has not already been seen in MIUI 11: the Black Shark 3 does not hide that Xiaomi is an intrinsic part of its DNA.
Extremely personalized, and with most MIUI applications and services (apart from everything from Google), the aesthetic style maintains aggressiveness ‘gamer’ in the theme and wallpapers. It is compatible with the services of the Xiaomi account (backup or Mi Cloud, for example) and also makes use of the MIUI launcher. There are no differences between layers beyond game options and display settings, but I have run into inexplicable absences: aside from the Black Shark 3 having no audio enhancements for headphone listening, phone lacks on-time setting for display. More than once I have forgotten to turn it off relying on automatic lock and I ran into the screen on after more than half an hour of leaving the phone.
The Black Shark 3’s cape has some serious shortcomings, such as the lack of adjustment for screen time. However, it will surely be solved with future updates
Let’s enter the key to the phone: the software intended for the execution of games. Black Shark includes a space dedicated to that type of entertainment, the Black Shark Space. By default, some Gameloft titles are pre-installed (they can be uninstalled), such as Asphalt 9. These, and any app that is downloaded to the phone, can be run from the Black Shark space to not only have a shared boot, it is also possible adjust phone performance for each application.
All games added to Black Shark Space will run with the settings menu hidden in the corners of the screen, the so-called Gamer Studio or game assistant. From there you can configure many aspects, such as avoiding the inconvenience of calls or unintentional touches during game control. A floating resource meter is also available with data from ‘FPS’, phone temperature and processor frequency.
The Black Shark Space is so important on the phone that it even has a dedicated button: the slider on the right side, very close to the bottom edge. Swiping it activates the game launcher with the settings that have been made. For example, it is possible to configure the Black Shark 3 so that notifications and calls do not sound during game sessions; so, by activating the space by moving the slider, everything is ready so there are no interruptions.
Cameras: good photography to be a ‘gaming’ mobile
As is often the case with specialized smartphones, much of the effort that each manufacturer puts into emphasizing the orientation of the phone. As already made clear, the Black Shark 3 is a beast in processing, allows you to run games with the highest graphic quality And it doesn’t leave out the rest of the entertainment, nor the super-fast loading. So, when arriving at the photographic section, anyone would think that it is the weakest on the phone. It is not so much.
I have analyzed several phones developed for ‘gamers’, and manufacturers always made the mistake of letting the performance of the cameras fall below the average of the rest of the sections. Not that the Black Shark 3 is going to compete with the best of 2020 in terms of photography, but yes it takes good quality shots on average. Even in low light: the Black Shark 3 is not a bad phone to record memories, both statically and on the move.
Entering technical data, the Black Shark 3 makes use of a triple rear camera where its main 64-megapixel sensor with f / 1.8 aperture, phase detection focus, pixel size of 0.8 µm and 4-in-1 combinations stands out. (Pixel binning) of 1.6 µm. The second chamber is a 13 megapixel sensor with ultra panoramic lens and f / 2.3 aperture. The third guest to the rear set is a 5 megapixel sensor intended to capture the depth of the scene (blur or bokeh). Its aperture is f / 2.2.
Ahead the Black Shark 3 offers a 20 megapixel sensor with f / 2.2 aperture. The pixel size is 0.9 µm.
As a general rule, the detail is quite high in all shots. In the main rear camera is where this detail is most noticeable; with a range of colors that stays natural enough. Focusing is fast, images are processed almost instantly and sharpness is usually the norm for most shots. The main camera gets more than acceptable off-road performance.
The wide-angle camera maintains the tones and colors of the main camera (if there is enough light) offering greater width with some deformity in the outer area of the image, even despite the software fix that can be activated in the camera options. Wide-angle shots accuse some lack of detail with some zoom, even in bright lighting situations. In medium and low light, watercolors tend to become considerable. And it includes a remarkable option: focus motor adjusts to levels necessary for macro shooting, so the mobile does not need a camera dedicated exclusively to that task (macro photos win in detail).
The panoramic camera not only takes wide-angle shots, it is also responsible for offering macro capture
Black Shark 3 lacks telephoto, so at all times digital zoom is applied (upgradeable). The usual MIUI photography application offers HDR with a decent performance that can ruin shots when something is forced, it includes night mode to take photos in very poor lighting (it does not behave badly), the phone has portrait mode for both cameras (very nice cutout with adjustable aperture blur) and does not do without Artificial Intelligence to automatically choose the settings for each scene (detection is not bad, although it is best to deactivate the AI to avoid saturation and excessive contrast).
The included photography application is complete, both in purely photographic features and those intended for the more recreational field. Professional mode (without RAW), ‘Ultra HD’ mode with huge 256 megapixel photos (interpolated, better to use a tripod) that the Snapdragon processes in seconds, the Black Shark 3 allows you to capture with the 64 megapixels of the main camera and offers real-time filters, beauty mode for selfies and also an overprinted level on screen so that the photos are level.
La cámara delantera ofrece un rendimiento algo más limitado que el sensor principal, especialmente en autorretratos. Los selfies no son de mala calidad si la escena rebosa luz, pero en seguida se nota cierta falta de detalle con media y baja iluminación. Por defecto la app aplica un nivel medio de belleza que afloja el contraste sobre el rostro; que puede ajustarse según se desee.
En general los tonos son naturales y, de aplicar el modo retrato, el procesado aplica un recorte muy bien ajustado al contorno. El desenfoque también es ajustable en apertura por software.
A continuación tienes una completa colección de fotografías tomadas con el Black Shark 3 en todas las condiciones y utilizando las cuatro cámaras incluidas en el teléfono.
En grabación de vídeo el Black Shark 3 mantiene el equilibrio en calidad y prestaciones que también ofrece en el ámbito fotográfico. Con una resolución máxima que alcanza el 4K y 60 fps, el teléfono ofrece buena nitidez y contraste sin acusar excesiva saturación. Las animaciones son fluidas sin saltos apreciables (especialmente a 60 fps). Y peca de un inconveniente notorio: al no disponer de estabilización de imagen, ni mecánica ni electrónica, los vídeos suelen acusar trepidaciones en la grabación.
A continuación tienes distintas muestras de grabación con la cámara principal, tanto en 1080p como en 4K. Ambos a 60 fps.
Turno de la grabación con el gran angular. Esta cámara solo admite 30 fps.
El Black Shark 3 admite grabación a cámara lenta hasta a 1920 fps (720p). El móvil aplica la cámara superlenta al último tramo del vídeo. La duración máxima de este modo es de 9 segundos.
El siguiente vídeo es una muestra en cámara lenta a 240 fps. La resolución obtenida es 720p.
Por último, aquí tienes una muestra de grabación obtenida con la cámara delantera. su máximo de resolución es 1080p a 30 fps.
Black Shark 3, la opinión de Xataka
Un teléfono ‘gamer’ quizá parezca orientado a ese público tan concreto, pero basta tener en las manos el Black Shark 3 para descubrir que, al fin y al cabo, lo que es bueno para jugar termina siendo bueno para el uso cotidiano. El Black Shark 3 tiene la máxima potencia, una pantalla grande y de muy buena calidad, ofrece autonomía más que de sobra para una jornada, el sonido está a muy buen nivel y hasta la fotografía es más que decente para un móvil de sus características. Sí, es cierto que resulta pesado, es algo grande y que puede hacerse molesto durante largos usos. Inconvenientes que comparte con otros teléfonos, incluso sin estar desarrollados para los juegos.
El Black Shark es un móvil que atrae la atención, en especial por lo suave que se mueve todo el sistema y el excelente rendimiento del hardware. Las mayores pegas han sido por la carencia del NFC, algunos detalles de software que no terminan de estar pulidos (se pueden solucionar con actualizaciones) y ciertos encontronazos con el HDR en la captura fotográfica. Más allá de aquí no es un teléfono que pueda dejar de recomendarse, incluso a aquellos que no son público objetivo de Black Shark, los ‘gamers’.
Pese a su estética ‘gamer’, el Back Shark 3 es un móvil apto para cualquiera. Siempre y cuando no se busque un teléfono pequeño…
Teniendo en cuenta que el Black Shark 3 parte por menos de 600 euros, que tiene un hardware de altura y que no posee grandes penalizaciones, resulta más que recomendable para aquellos que buscan el mejor procesador y no quieren derrochar el dinero en un gama ‘premium’. Por el precio ofrece mucho más de lo que parece.
- Es rapidísimo. En todo.
- La carga rápida es demencial.
- El doble altavoz frontal estéreo acompaña perfectamente en juegos y películas.
- Sin NFC.
- El HDR no es demasiado consistente.
- Grande y bastante pesado.
Black Shark 3 [5G] 8GB RAM 128GB Dual-Sim, 6.67″ Pantalla 90Hz, Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 + X55, Qualcomm® Adreno™ 650 GPU, Batería 4720mAh QC4.0 – (Negro) (Versión Europea) (Negro, 128 GB)
El terminal ha sido cedido para la prueba por parte de Black Shark. Can inquire our policy of relationships with enterprises.