Hands on: Black Shark 3


The Black Shark 3 is the latest handset to target the burgeoning gaming phone market. It’s built by a subsidiary of Xiaomi and is aimed at hardcore PUBG and Call of Duty Warzone fans looking for a handset that’ll match their gaming rig.
After a solid three days with the Black Shark 3, I can confirm, while it’s not as interesting as the bumper packing Black Shark 3 Pro, it feels like a decent step forward on 2019’s Black Shark 2 – though I wish the firm didn’t feel the need to use quite so much RGB lighting. Here’s why.
Design – The Black Shark 3 has a distinctly “gamer” look
Black Shark phones always look and feel like a hark back to the days of LAN parties, featuring distinctly retro design elements traditionally associated with over the top custom-built gaming PCs.
These include full-fat RGB lighting and a custom “X Core” design that loads two symmetrical diamond shapes onto the phone’s back – one for the camera housing and one for the optional magnetic charge cable’s connector.
I’m not a huge fan of RGB lighting on gaming PCs and laptops as, outside of keyboards, it’s for the most part just a flashy excess that ramps up the devices’ price and makes it look like a children’s toy. The latter is still an issue on the Black Shark – trusted me outside of the ROG Phone 2 you won’t find a gaudier mobile – but it partially solves my primary quibble by offering easy to view notification alerts.
The marmite design factor’s not helped by the fact it’s significantly chunkier and heavier than most competing, non-gaming, 6.67-inch handsets. This isn’t to say it’s as ridiculously big as it’s Pro sibling, which features a gigantic 7.1-inch screen, but it will take regular phone users some time to get used to its increased heft.
Outside of this, my early impressions are positive, even though the Black Shark 3 doesn’t come with any waterproofing certification. This is relatively common on phones that are trying to remain semi-affordable, as you have to pay to get a handset IP certified. Even without the IP rating, the Black Shark 3 feels well made – like a Nokia Lumia from the days of yore, and I’m reasonably sure the floor will come out worse if you accidentally drop a Black Shark 3 on it.
Related: Best gaming phones

Features and spec – Worthy of a flagship, plus a few extras
Like its predecessor, the phone ticks most of the right boxes when it comes to hardware. Under the hood, you get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 CPU, with 5G connectivity and a choice of either 8GB or 12GB of RAM. These specs put the phone firmly in flagship performance territory.
But what differentiates it from a regular phone at this price, like the OnePlus 8 , are the gaming-focused additions Black Shark’s made. For starters, like pretty much every decent gaming handset since the original Razer Phone, it has a high refresh rate screen with a super-fast polling rate. Specifically, it...

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