ASUS OLED family

When it comes to gaming phones, I love it if there’s a physical trigger. We first experienced it in the Black Shark 3 Pro and those triggers were so good, that I also named it one of the best phones for the year 2020.

This year, on this day of recording of this review, we only have the Black Shark 4 in the market. The Pro variant is not in the market outside of China – but that’s okay since Black Shark brought the magnetic triggers to the Black Shark 4.

After spending like a month in total with the Black Shark 4, here are all the things that we need to share with you.

Okay, so the major highlight that the Black Shark 4 is the new magnetic triggers. The magnetic trigger is now controlled via a physical push switch. It’s no longer controlled via software, but instead – can be customized via software.

Black Shark 4

So, since the new triggers can be popped out whenever we want. The first use case that I found to be really useful is to use the triggers to trigger certain tasks.

We can even change these shortcuts from a list – but I find it to be quite limited. If I can change the popup trigger to launch a shortcut, like launching my Yeelight scenes, then I can turn on my lights with the trigger and that’ll be cool.

Black Shark 4

Anyway, from the list of options, I do find it to be very limited and also rather weird. We can choose “AliPay” and also “WeChat Pay” but I don’t think there’s anyone using these features outside of China? So why is the global firmware version still have these two options?

Then, when we launch the camera app, we can also use the triggers! And it makes perfect sense too. By default, the left trigger takes a photo after a 3-second countdown, whereby the right trigger takes a picture instantly – like how a camera does it.

Black Shark 4

We can also head into the camera options to change the left/right triggers too, by the way.

The Black Shark 4’s cameras are pretty okay too, so have a look at some pictures here. I particularly like the macro camera because it has an autofocusing lens.

To have a look at all the pictures taken by the Black Shark 4, watch our video at the top of this review.

And I mean, this is a very good evolution path for these magnetic triggers. In the Black Shark 3 Pro, it was only good for gaming as the triggers can only pop out when it’s in a game.

Black Shark 4

But, when it comes to gaming – the main purpose of why the Black Shark 4 is created – there are a few notable differences compared to the Black Shark 3 Pro’s triggers.

Firstly, the travel distance – as in how far you can press down – is a little shorter on the Black Shark 4. The clicks feel similar on both the phones but I do feel like it’s a little tighter on the Black Shark 3 Pro.

Black Shark 4

There is also one big feature that is not found in the Black Shark 4 – the pressure-sensitive screen. I got so used to the Black Shark 3 Pro’s pressure-sensitive screen to the point that it became second nature for me to press the left side of the screen to reload while playing COD Mobile. And yet in the Black Shark 4, this feature is removed.

Black Shark 3 Pro vs ROG Phone 3
This pressure-sensitive screen feature is no longer available on the Black Shark 4.

Perhaps it’s due to cost or because not that many people actually use this feature. I think that it’s a great feature to have but it’s definitely not perfect since I find myself mispressing during intense moments in the game and accidentally reloading.

We did do an unboxing and quick showcase of the Black Shark 4 a while ago – which you can check out here.

So, after using the Black Shark 4 for so long, how is the gaming experience? I have to say, I’m actually loving the gaming experience overall. Our unit here has the Snapdragon 870 with 8GB RAM + 128GB storage and overall, I love it.

I’m pleased to announce that the Black Shark 4 is made to handle the Snapdragon 870 chipset properly and there’s no excessive overheating or screen dimming issue like the POCO F3, which also uses the Snapdragon 870.

Black Shark 4

However, the screen size has shrunken to 6.67-inch and also shrunken down to 2400×1080 pixels in resolution, but upgraded to 144Hz refresh rate. Other than that, it’s still an AMOLED screen with the same slew of features like DC dimming to prevent eye fatigue.

Black Shark 4
Left: Black Shark 4
Right: Black Shark 3 Pro

But instead of true front-facing stereo speakers, the Black Shark 4 has side-firing stereo speakers instead. I find that to be weird as my hands kept covering the speakers while I was playing COD Mobile. However, there’s a headphone jack if you don’t want to use speakers.

Okay, those are the major things that I want to highlight – but there’s more minor things that I quickly want to highlight.

Black Shark 4

The batter is a 4,500mAh battery – it doesn’t last that long in 144Hz but that is to be expected. The Black Shark 4 retail unit does come with a 67W charger and can fast charge the phone from 15% to 100% in just 25 minutes.

Black Shark 4

The Black Shark 4 also comes with a not-so-gaudy gamer-look as compared to the Black Shark 3 series, and there’s no more RGB.

Black Shark 4

Good riddance. I never knew what’s the point of having RGB lights on a phone.

Also, the new Black Shark 4 can output video via HDMI!

Black Shark 4
Yay!

And all in all, the Black Shark 4 is a fantastic phone for gaming. What I truly worry about is the software side of things. As you know, Black Shark phones use JOY UI, which is essentially a branch from MIUI.

The Black Shark 4 is currently running on JOY UI 12.5, which is fine. The last update it got is 23rd April 2021. It’s definitely not the latest in terms of updates, but not really that old too.

Black Shark 4

However, when we look back at the Black Shark 3 Pro, this phone has not been updated since 2nd February 2021. This phone is not cheap and for Black Shark to just drop support on a phone that’s barely a year old is just saddening.

The Black Shark 3 Pro is a great phone but marred by poor software support – and I really hope the same thing doesn’t happen on the Black Shark 4.

Should you buy the Black Shark 4?

So that’s it – the Black Shark 4 is out in the market right now with the starting price of RM1,999 only. Fantastic price for such a phone, honestly.

You can even get it on Maxis Zerolution, by the way. Though I don’t know why they’re bundling it with the split-type triggers. You already got a phone with physical popup triggers, why do you need yet another accessory for triggers?

Anyway, I’m still loving the Black Shark 4. It’s a fantastic phone especially with what it offers at this price point. Seriously, for just RM1,999 starting price – you get the Snapdragon 870 chipset with physical triggers. It’s amazing.

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