Black Shark returns with a new iteration of its gaming smartphone, the Black Shark 3 Pro. We tested it for long hours to find out if it can compete with a gaming console.
Originally known to have raised funds from Xiaomi, the Black Shark brand focuses on the smartphone market for gamers. In this sense, the Black Shark 3 Pro integrates the best of current technology to offer an immersive and long-lasting experience for gamers mobile. Is this really a highlight? This is what we will see in this full review.
This test was carried out with a smartphone that was temporarily loaned to us by the brand.
Black Shark 3 Pro Spec Sheet
Still a massive design
Smartphones "gamingAre usually noticed at first glance and the Black Shark 3 Pro is no exception. On its back cover, we recognize aggressive lines, electric blue edging in some places as well as the green Black Shark logo illuminated with an LED to be sure to spot your smartphone at night. All the ingredients of the phone for gamers are there!
Its lines are however less aggressive and above all less prominent than on previous generations, giving it a somewhat more versatile look, although still very different from current standards. The "mirror" effect of the rear façade is also slightly streaked, which skilfully hides fingerprints, which are inevitable on such a coating.
Up front, the design is more standard, with an elongated design (19.5: 9), but still quite wide given its 7.1-inch screen diagonal. No notch or bubble here, the idea is especially not to eat away at any part of the screen to prevent an element of a game's HUD from being obscured. We therefore have borders that are slightly thicker than the current standard to accommodate the front camera and stereo speakers, but still smaller than the front of the Pixel 4 XL. There is also a good symmetry which gives an impression of homogeneity and makes it possible not to feel an imbalance on the long parts, both vertically and horizontally.
There is an important point to note however: the Black Shark 3 Pro is big. And heavy. It is of course a choice to offer playing comfort on a decent display and sufficient autonomy not to degrade the experience after a few tens of minutes, but from the top of its 83.3 x 177.8 x 10 , 1 mm for 253 grams – it's 25% heavier than the Black Shark 2 Pro -, it does not go unnoticed in the hand. No need to go to the gym anymore, your forearms should gain in resistance as you use it daily.
Result, it exudes solidity, and even a little too much. If you drop it, you'll be more afraid of hitting your floor than your phone.
Another detail far from trivial, the Black Shark 3 Pro is designed to hang an accessory in the middle. The buttons are therefore pushed to the maximum on the ends and they are therefore very difficult to reach in portrait mode. Conversely, if you're the type of person who rests your phone on your little hands in landscape mode, you are most likely going to accidentally press the volume keys. It’s not related to accessories this time around, but the fingerprint sensor – built into the display – is a bit too high as well. It seems that only engineers with giant hands have tried the telephone.
Thought for gamers, it has a headphone output, to listen to its wired games while recharging the phone via USB-C if necessary, but also two small triggers on the right edge, which retract at will with a small noise metallic worthy of the best sci-fi movies. Did I have to look for a tutorial to make them work? Maybe … Is it intuitive? Not at all ! Did I eventually get it to work in the game? No more…
Finally, a button slider Additional has been added to easily enter the Shark Space, the interface's software space dedicated to games. You will find your entire game library, additional settings and the list of accessories that can be paired. Of course, we will come back to this part in more detail a little later.
A large screen with many qualities
At one time, 7 inches was the screen size of a tablet. Today, seeing such a diagonal appear on a smartphone is no longer surprising, and for good reason: with the change in ratio (from 16: 9 to 19.5: 9), the displayed surface remains less imposing while remaining very comfortable everyday.
We are therefore in the presence of a 7.1-inch Amoled panel very precisely for a definition of 1440 x 3120 pixels (WQHD +), or a density of 483 DPI. At this level of detail, it is generally difficult to discern pixels with the naked eye. Basically, it is tuned to adapt its definition on the fly to offer the best compromise between display quality and battery life, but it is possible to force it to 2K or 1080p, as desired.
The slab itself isn't the prettiest we've ever seen, but it did very well under our probe. With a correct brightness (470 cd / m²) which should be enough to read the screen even in direct sunlight, infinite contrast and a default calibration of the color temperature at 6900 K, which is hardly more bluish than ideal ( 6500 K), the Black Shark 3 Pro is doing pretty well. It even covers more than 100% of the DCI-P3 color space (118% according to our probe) with a deltaE deviation of 4.63, which is relatively little for such a demanding dynamic range.
Even in direct sunlight, the Black Shark 3 Pro's screen is therefore very readable, unless you are looking at really very dark content, all with good fidelity, despite a notable difference – at least for a probe – on the red hues. The glass coating could be of better quality to improve color perception from all viewing angles. Although the brightness helps prevent this from being a problem, this glass is particularly reflective, to the point of giving the impression of being in the presence of an LCD screen at times despite the high contrast.
Surprisingly, the screen is capable of displaying 90 Hz, but it is natively set to 60 Hz. To save battery, certainly. We would also have liked Black Shark to push the bar a little further and offer 120 or 144 Hz as for the Nubia Red Magic 5G. Even if it means tightening your muscles, you might as well go all the way.
Firmware: do you speak english?
The Black Shark 3 Pro natively runs Android 10, with the May security update. Two months late is hardly surprising, even on a flagship. Note, however, that at the start of writing this test, the security patch was for March, which is almost 5 months. It's a lot. Hopefully Black Shark keeps up a steady pace of updates.
This is of course not pure Android, but an interface customized by Black Shark called Joy UI. Understand by this that this is MIUI, Xiaomi's interface, with some additions designed for the gaming and icons in greener shades. We also find the registration of his Mi account, the backup application on the Mi Cloud, as well as the Xiaomi security analysis application.
We are not going to say that this is a bad thing, however, as MIUI is full of relevant features. It's a bit confusing if you're used to another Android interface, but there are a lot of things you can customize. Navigation by gestures or keys, density of applications on the screen, transition effects, app drawer or not, dynamic night mode, screen always-on, notification animation on the locked screen…. you will find more options here than with any other manufacturer. We will not complain.
For unlocking, Black Shark uses the usual passwords, PIN code, pattern, as well as a very fast fingerprint sensor hidden in the screen and a 2D facial recognition system (based only on the camera) , not very secure, but practical on a daily basis.
Unlike MIUI, there are fewer preinstalled applications (but still some games, which is not so shocking on a smartphone gamer). virus scanning does not automatically launch with every download, and there are no ads in native applications except for the one found when performing a security scan. However, some areas of the interface have not been translated and are still in English. Too bad, it really gives the impression of an imported or unfinished smartphone.
Finally, we find the exemplary fluidity of MIUI and it is very pleasant on a daily basis.
The Black Shark 3 Pro has a very responsive and efficient under-screen fingerprint sensor, as well as a 2D facial recognition system. The latter is therefore less secure, but allows an almost instantaneous start without any friction when you turn on the smartphone. Coupled with the option " lift to lightIt makes the lock screen look like it doesn't exist at all.
Optimizations designed for the game
Beyond traditional use, as on other smartphones, the Black Shark 3 Pro incorporates some additional elements related to its status as a smartphone for gamers . First: the classiest smartphone in the world (or one that confuses class with coquetry), the one that makes housewives dream, has a shiny back and intends to show it. A light editor allows you to choose the flickering color of the rear LEDs and their switching on sequence. It is even possible to define patternswhich will activate under certain specific conditions, such as an incoming call, charging, music in progress, etc.
The Shark Space, accessible using a physical switch, allows you to centralize all your games in one place and access them quickly without having to overload your home screen. You can also, for each game, unlock the fun mode for " unleash the potential of the SoC, push the boundaries; your enthusiasm, your overwhelming power ". Understand behind this haiku that we can decide to unleash the performance of the phone for better quality, but certainly some side effects (heating, reduction in battery life …). It would have been amazing not to find such a mode on a smartphone gaming.
Top performances to play
A smartphone for gamers must have the best of the components available. So here we find a Snapdragon 865 SoC, up to 12 GB of LPDDR5 RAM and up to 256 GB of UFS 3.0 storage. To do better, we would have had to wait a few more months to enjoy the Snapdragon 865+, at increased speed, but the performance gain would certainly not have justified this delay alone.
|Black Shark 3 Pro||Nubia Red Magic 5G (144 Hz)||Xiaomi mi 10 pro||Black Shark 2 Pro|
|PCMark 2.0||10,307||14 147||10,606||8,220|
|GFXBench Aztec Vulkan high (onscreen / offscreen)||17/20 FPS||29/20 FPS||30/20 FPS||26/18 FPS|
|GFXBench Car Chase (onscreen / offscreen)||24/51 FPS||44/51 FPS||45/50 FPS||40/47 FPS|
|Sequential read / write||1607 / 667MB / s||1,511 / 202MB / s||1652 / 738MB / s||1442 / 223MB / s|
|Random read / write||38.7k / 44.4k IOPS||46k / 48.2k IOPS||57.3K / 53.8K IOPS||40k / 7k IOPS|
On the benchmarks, the Black Shark 3 Pro comes unsurprisingly at the same level as other smartphones equipped with the same chip, with the exception of benchmarks " onscreen"Knowing that they were done in QHD, which requires much more computing power than for smartphones in Full HD +. Basically, it is therefore one of the most powerful smartphones on the market today.
Of course, this is felt on a daily basis, especially since the interface of Black Shark, like MIUI, is very fluid. Its 12 GB of RAM also allows it to store a large number of applications in memory without having to restart them, even if with 8 GB it is already very difficult to reach the limit …
Also, even when playing in QHD +, it is not difficult to maintain a frameratestable at 30 fps on Fortnite in epic quality (the highest in the game). At the height of the action, however, with a lot of commotion, I did happen to fall to…. 28 fps. Suffice to say that you will not be able to use this as an excuse if you do not finish 1 TOP. Despite a test in the middle of July, on one of the hottest weeks of the year, the smartphone did not have trouble keeping a correct thermal envelope, even over long gaming sessions. at temperature without the slightest problem. With such thickness, we expected no less.
The same goes for games like Call of Duty Mobile or Arena of Valor which run like a charm.
Along with the Black Shark 3 Pro, we also received its line of accessories, namely the Gamepad-3, a controller, and the Funcooler Pro, a cooler.
The heat sink looks like a small fan that clips onto the back of the phone. When attached with a small, easy-to-attach clip, the device cools the smartphone case to help dissipate heat and disperse heat using a fan.
Very easy to operate, the Funcooler nevertheless has significant flaws. First of all, he weighs his weight. With an already heavy smartphone, adding more does not make the games a bit long very pleasant. It also takes up space on the back of the phone, which makes it more difficult to grip the smartphone during games. Then it has no battery. It would be that much heavier, but then it could operate independently, which is not the case here.
It is therefore supplied with a USB-A to USB-C cable (the Funcooler connector) in order to connect it to a power adapter or to a computer. But you will admit that it is not the most practical for playing. By purchasing a USB-C to USB-C cable separately, you can then plug the Funcooler into the smartphone, draining the smartphone's battery and adding an inconvenient wire to the phone that comes out of the phone. Suffice to say that it is not more practical than the 1st solution.
Finally, if it connects easily, the translation of its control software into Shark Kit is horrible. You will have for example the choice between two speeds: “freeze” and “frozen”, while for the disconnected, it will be necessary to press on the button “not linked”. We're fine, of course, but hey …
The controller is not much better thought. The buttons have a sharp click and the joystick is quite flexible dynamic, making it a decent booster. Once again, its integration with the smartphone is the problem.
The small controller is attached to the side of the smartphone using a grip or a dedicated shell. The grip, positioned on the left of the smartphone, is just placed on the buttons. It is strong enough to hold everything in place while not causing unintentional contact with the keys, but makes them unusable without removing the grip . So remember to adjust your volume before installing it.
The software part is on the other hand well thought out and allows a simple and effective mapping of the buttons and the joystick. In a few seconds, you will have configured the kit to be as responsive as possible in your interactions. However, remember to deactivate, in the " bodily »(??) the detection of movements, otherwise we quickly find ourselves doing 360 ° without wanting to (or understand why).
Small downside: it often works in part, but requires returning to touch to navigate the menus, many games are not intended for controller use. It's not a big deal, but not necessarily the most comfortable between 2 games. On the other hand, buttons work well when tapping somewhere on the screen, but swiping – for aiming in a MOBA, for example – becomes unusable.
Its use is therefore interesting, but limited to a few games and does not necessarily make handling the whole thing very pleasant in the end. In short, it is not a panacea.
In picture: almost better by night than by day
But beyond its "gaming" part, the Black Shark 3 Pro is a smartphone like any other and we therefore expect it to be as effective as its competition in other areas, such as photography for example. On this side, it is equipped with three cameras at the rear and one at the front:
- Main: 64 Mpx sensor (16 Mpx withpixel binning), f / 1.8 aperture, 6 lenses;
- Ultra wide-angle: 13 Mpx sensor, f / 2.25 aperture, 6 lenses;
- Depth: 5 Mpx sensor, f / 2.2;
- Front: 20 Mpx, f / 2.2 aperture, 5 lenses.
But first, let's start with the busy photo app. There is a scrolling menu system from left to right to change mode, but with many modes (3 for videos and 6 for photos), which does not encourage for example to go for the 64 Mpx mode which is find at the very end and already requires 4 actions before you can access it.
The switch to ultra wide-angle is done by a very small button located in the corner of the screen, almost invisible and not captioned. Finally, there is a menu at the top of the screen with new options such as a Tilt-Shift to add a blur effect worthy of an Instagram filter in 2010, or a macro mode which strangely requires all the same to be at a good distance from your subject to get a clear shot. You can also manage HDR mode, AI mode, beauty mode or add filters – which is always discouraged during capture, prefer to do this in post-production on an app like Snapseed.
Either way, many of his fashions are of very little interest and do not deserve any more attention than that. The difference between 16 and 64 Mpx for example is not worth its 4 additional actions nor the multiplication by 3 of the size of the file. Here is an example of a 100% crop of a 16 and 64 Mpx photo:
We note that the image is slightly sharper, without making it easier to distinguish additional information on the screen.
In the middle of the day, the color rendering is decent, but the Black Shark 3 Pro struggles to fully expose an image with too pronounced dynamics, while the sharpness leaves much to be desired. For example below with an example of the statue of the Place de la République, blurred and whose dark parts are blocked. Note that the same goes for the ultra wide angle.
At the top of the interface there is an HDR mode and an "AI" mode which we hope will improve this. Unfortunately, these modes are neither sufficient to regain sharpness nor to better expose the entire image. On the other hand, under certain conditions, HDR tends to completely change the colorimetry, as here with stairs – at night – whose real color was much closer to the dark wood of the normal photo than to the very light wood of the HDR photo. :
We can also notice in some photos a slight haze or a halo depending on the brightness. In the other cases, the clichés are quite suitable, without being exceptional.
At night, the ultra-wide-angle becomes unusable unless you are enjoying a really well-lit scene. Dans le cas contraire, on se retrouve vite avec une image toute noire. Le capteur principal en revanche est étonnamment bon au vu de ses résultats de jour. Certes, il n’est pas à la hauteur des meilleurs smartphones du marché, mais il s’en sort plutôt bien avec une colorimétrie qui ne vire pas au jaunâtre, une bonne gestion des lumières et des ombres et un piqué suffisant à défaut d’être vraiment bon.
Le plus étonnant est peut-être la qualité du mode nuit. Contrairement à ce que proposent bon nombre de marques, le Black Shark 3 Pro conserve des tonalités très naturelles tout en gagnant en détail sur les zones très sombres ou à l’inverse les zones trop lumineuses.
Attention néanmoins aux objets en mouvement qui finissent par laisser des artefacts.
Tout comme l’appareil photo principal, la caméra frontale s’en sort finalement mieux de nuit que de jour. Il peine à parfaitement gérer les hautes lumières, même sans se mettre en contre-jour, en revanche, lorsque la lumière est faible, le piqué est une nouvelle fois correct et l’exposition naturelle. Attention aux petitslens flaretoutefois.
Pour ce qui est de la vidéo, le Black Shark 3 Pro peut filmer jusqu’en 4K à 60 FPS. On notera cependant que la stabilisation n’est pas exceptionnelle, même en Full HD 30 fps. La captation sonore est toutefois très bonne, un peu trop parfois tant il capte tous les bruits alentour.
Des haut-parleurs inégaux
Pour parfaire l’expérience de jeu, Black Shark a rajouté en façade deux haut-parleurs stéréo à son nouveau smartphone. Le son est puissant, mais on aura tendance à ne pas dépasser les 80 % pour éviter les distorsions trop désagréables, voire 75 % quand la piste a tendance à beaucoup reposer sur les hauts médiums, qui se mettent alors rapidement grésiller. Les basses pourraient également être meilleures.
Dans ces conditions, selon le jeu, on peut vite se retrouver à switcher sur un casque pour retrouver des sons plus propres. Heureusement, le Black Shark 3 Pro est équipé d’une prise jack, évitant ainsi les problèmes de latence du Bluetooh liés à Android.
Une autonomie prévue pour le jeu
Le Black Shark 3 Pro est équipé d’une batterie de 5000 mAh, ce qui est un peu au-dessus de la moyenne et qui explique son poids. L’idée derrière ce gros accumulateur est de permettre de longues sessions de jeu intensives, avec la meilleure qualité possible.
Dans l’idée, c’est plutôt réussi, comme en témoigne notre test automatisé SmartViser sur lequel il a tenu 11 heures et 38 minutes. C’est moins que les 12 heures et 30 minutes du Poco F2 Pro, mais ce dernier ne propose que du Full HD+, alors que notre test a été effectué ici en QHD+.
90 minutes de jeu sur des titres 3D gourmands comme Call of Duty Mobile ou encore N.O.V.A Legacy auront grignoté environ 15 % d’autonomie au smartphone. Autant dire que si vous ne jouez pas et que vous baissez manuellement la définition de l’écran, vous devriez pouvoir tenir une journée et demie, voire unweek-endcomplet loin de votre prise de courant.
Dans tous les cas, son chargeur de 65 W lui permet de retrouver 50 % d’autonomie en un quart d’heure et de recharger complètement sa batterie en environ 40 minutes. Rien à redire ici !
De la 5G, mais pas de NFC
Niveau connectivité, le Black Shark 3 Pro embarque de la 5G (NSA et SA), de la 4G compatible avec toutes les bandes de fréquence françaises, du Wi-Fi 6 et du Bluetooth 5.0. Autant dire que les normes d’aujourd’hui et de demain sont au rendez-vous. De quoi offrir le meilleur de la connectivité.
Le meilleur ou presque : il manque une technologie à l’appel, le NFC. Dites adieu à l’appairage rapide de vos appareils Bluetooth et au paiement sans contact, le Black Shark 3 Pro n’en est pas pourvu.
Prix et disponibilité du Black Shark 3 Pro
Le Black Shark 3 Pro est d’ores et déjà disponible sur le site du constructeur en couleur « noir ombré » souligné de liserés verts, ou en « gris glacé » avec des liserés bleus, au prix de 899 euros.
Vous pourrez également y trouver les accessoires à ajouter à votre panier lors du paiement s’ils vous intéressent.