So far, the only downside to playing on a handset or tablet is the lack of hardware buttons. Bluetooth controllers or snap-on accessories can improve the experience, but it will just add some unnecessary bulk or affect portability. Gaming smartphones are rising in popularity and Xiaomi introduces the Black Shark 3 Series. These two models are packed with features that should enhance how users interact with their games.

Mobile gaming is on a whole new level these days as developers churn out resource-intensive titles. In fact, the graphical fidelity of some games can be considered on par with a home console to a certain degree. While most mobile games will run fine on entry-level and mid-range units, some come with tweaks that can only be optimised for higher-end devices. Thus, Xiaomi is ready for what 2020 has in store with two variants of the third-generation Black Shark platform.

Black Shark 3 Pro

This version of Xiaomi's gaming smartphone is perhaps the range-topper among the two. It flaunts a 7.1-inch QHD+ OLED display with a 90 Hz refresh rate. According to GSMArena, it will keep up with the player's touch input via the 270 Hz touch-sampling rate. This feature ensures outstanding responsiveness.

With more networks now supporting 5G, the Black Shark 3 Pro ships with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 3 chipset. Wi-Fi 6 connectivity is likewise supported for faster data transfers using compatible equipment. There are two memory options available: 8 GB LPDDR4X or 12 GB LPDDR5. Both these are paired with a 256 GB internal storage.

It relies on a massive 5,000 mAh battery with support for 65W charging. Xiaomi claims the handset can charge from zero to 100 per cent in less than 40 minutes. When playing on landscape mode, a cable sticking out from the charging port makes it difficult to grip. Hence there is a secondary magnetic pogo-pin charging port on the rear.

Another unique feature of the Black Shark 3 Pro is the pair of motorised air triggers that pop out when needed. These give users a tactile sensation during gameplay and are durable enough to withstand up to 300,000 actuations.

Black Shark 3

The regular version is likewise equipped with the same processor as the Pro model but sports different specifications. This handset uses a 6.67-inch FHD+ OLED display and is powered by a smaller 4,720 mAh battery. Meanwhile, it does offer three RAM/storage variants: 8 GB/ 128 GB, 12 GB/ 128 GB, and 12 GB/ 256 GB. Sadly, there are no pop-up triggers included in this model.

Imaging, design, pricing and availability

Both Black Shark 3 models tout a 64-megapixel main camera, a 13-megapixel wide-angle, and a 5-megapixel depth sensor. The 20-megapixel forward-facing camera sits within the small bezel on the top. Aesthetics-wise, the two look the same with premium materials such as glass and metal. Finally, two front-firing speakers deliver stereo sound in landscape mode.

Xiaomi debuts the Black Shark 3 Series
Xiaomi is ready for what 2020 has in store for mobile gaming with two models: the Black Shark 3 and Black Shark 3 Pro. Photo: Xiaomi

The Black Shark 3 Pro will be available in Phantom Black and Armor Grey colourways. On the other hand, the Black Shark 3 comes in four shades: Lightning Black, Star Silver, Armor Grey, and Bright Pink. As for the pricing, the regular model starts at 3,499 yuan ($500), 3,799 yuan ($540), and 3,999 yuan ($570). Those who prefer the Pro will be looking at 4,699 yuan ($670) and 4,999 yuan ($710). Each of the prices corresponds to the storage options from lowest to highest respectively. There is no detail yet as to the availability of a launch for international markets.