Last week, Chinese phone maker Huawei told the world its new gaming phone was better than the Switch. This morning domestic competitor Xiaomi says, “hold my beer.”
The Black Shark 2, AKA the Black Shark Helo, is actually Xiaomi’s second designated “gaming phone. But if you’ve been paying attention to this emerging market segment, it’s worth a look. In addition to a huge screen and flagship-worthy specs, its add-on controller accessory is intriguing.
The combined case-and-controller puts two button clusters on either side of the device, mirroring the layout of the Nintendo Switch while swapping out the right analog stick for a touchpad, a la the Steam Controller. The external controllers attach to the case via POGO plugs, making them easy to snap off if you’re not in the mood to carry an extra 50% of phone around with you for a mobile Fortnite session.
Other accessories include a dedicated cooling add-on that connects directly with the phone’s internal vapor cooling setup, in a fashion very similar to the ASUS ROG Phone. The design has RGB LED lights along the edges that can be customized by the user and a dedicated button to open gaming tools.
As with most “gaming” designs, the screen is expansive and the hardware is impressive. The 6.1-inch OLED screen is big, even if the 1080p resolution isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, and underneath is the latest Snapdragon 845 processor. Dual cameras on the back are 20 and 12 megapixels, with a 20-megapixel front-facing cam crammed in next to stereo speakers.
The battery is a generous 4000mAh. RAM and storage depend on which version you get: they’re offered in 6GB, 8GB, and a whopping 10GB configuration, paired to 128 or 256GB of storage depending on your pick, oddly without a MicroSD card. The cheapest model will be 3200 yuan (approximately $460 USD) while the 10GB monster is 4200 yuan (a surprisingly reasonable $600).
If you can’t wait to get your hands on the Black Shark 2, you may be in for some disappointment. Manufacturer Xiaomi almost never releases high-end hardware outside of China and a few other Asian markets. But if you do happen to be in China, the company is taking pre-orders starting today.