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Black Shark 5 vs Black Shark 5 Pro Review: Which One Should You Buy?

Black Shark 5

Black Shark is Xiaomi’s smartphone brand targeted at the hardcore gaming market, where gaming performance trumps all other features. Now in its fifth generation, Xiaomi has released two versions: the Black Shark 5 and Black Shark 5 Pro.

As the name suggests, the Pro variant has more beefed up specs over the standard Black Shark 5, mainly in the chipset front. The Black Shark 5 starts at RM2,099; RM2,699 for the Pro variant.

So let’s compare and see how they perform, and ultimately which is the variant to get.

Specifications – Black Shark 5

Dimensions163.8 x 76.3 x 10 mm
Weight218 grams
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 870, Octa-core 3.2 GHz
GPUAdreno 650
RAM 8 GB / 12 GB
Storage128GB / 256GB
Display6.67 inches, 1080 x 2400p (Full HD+), AMOLED
Camera (Front)16 MP
Camera (Rear)64 MP, f/1.8 (Main)
13 MP, f/2.4 (Ultrawide)
2 MP, f/2.4 (Telephoto)
Operating SystemAndroid 12, Joy UI 13
Battery and Charging4,650 mAh
120W Charging

Specifications: Black Shark 5 Pro

Dimensions163.8 x 76.5 x 9.5 mm
Weight220 grams
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, Octa-core 3.0 GHz
GPUAdreno 730
RAM8 GB / 12 GB / 16 GB
Storage256GB / 512 GB
Display6.67 inches, 1080 x 2400p (Full HD+), OLED
Camera (Front)16 MP
Camera (Rear)108 MP, f/1.8 (Main)
13 MP, f/2.4 (Ultrawide)
5 MP, f/2.4 (Telephoto)
Operating SystemAndroid 12, Joy UI 13
Battery and Charging4,650 mAh
120W Charging

What’s In The Box?

Both the Black Shark 5 and Pro variants come with the following in the box:

  • Black Shark 5 / Pro
  • 120W fast charger
  • USB Type-C data cable
  • Protective case
  • Screen protector
  • Quick start guide

Design

Black Shark 5
Black Shark 5

The Black Shark 5 and Pro variant share the same design, except for the colour options. While both have two colour options, the standard variant has Mirror Black and Explorer Grey, while the Pro variant has Nebula White and Stellar Black.

Black Shark 5 Pro Back

At the back, both feature different motifs and finish. The standard variant has a glossy finish with a grille-like motif, while the Pro variant has a matte finish with more aggressive lines to make up the “gamer” aesthetic. Personally I prefer the motif of the standard variant with its more grown-up look, but the gloss finish can be a fingerprint magnet if you are not careful.

Both phones have pop-up triggers placed on the right side of the phone, which comes in handy for serious mobile gamers. The triggers also doubles as a physical camera shutter button if that is your preferred method of taking photos.

Display

Black Shark 5 vs Black Shark 5 Pro Review: Which One Should You Buy? 11

Surprisingly the Black Shark 5 is equipped with a better display than the Pro variant, but not by much. The standard variant has a 144 Hz AMOLED display, while the Pro variant is equipped with a 144 Hz OLED panel. Despite that, the Pro variant is not a slouch when it comes to image quality. I could only tell the difference if both phones are placed side by side.

If gaming is your priority, the 144 Hz refresh rate from both phones have your back. Visuals are buttery smooth with little motion blur, and watching movies on them are a delight as well.

Performance

This is where the Black Shark 5 Pro wins over the standard variant hands down. While both are capable of running the latest mobile game titles we throw at them, the Black Shark 5 Pro can achieve higher frames and make better use of the high refresh rate display. However, this performance boost comes at a cost, which is the thermals. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset can get quite toasty at full loads. But luckily, Black Shark has a separate air cooler that you can magnetically attach to the back of the phone for improved thermals.

The standard variant however, does start to show its age. It carries over the same chipset as the Black Shark 4, so its not much of an upgrade for gaming tasks. However, it is still a capable smartphone especially considering the price point. I was able to run most games at medium to high settings, albeit getting less frames when I opted for the highest visual settings.

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Black Shark 5 vs Black Shark 5 Pro Review: Which One Should You Buy? 14
Black Shark 5 Pop Up Triggers

The pop-up triggers are a treat to use when gaming. It acts like controller triggers of gaming consoles and feels tactile to use. The position of the triggers are great too. Console gamers will feel right at home here.

User Experience

Black Shark 5 Pro back

Both Black Shark 5 variants are gaming phones through and through, and using them definitely feels that way. Black Shark uses a modified MIUI known as Joy UI, which is a “gamer-esque” take on the OS. It feels peppy, and functional for serious gamers.

It also comes with a few features unique to the Black Shark series, such as pressure-sensitive screen, and motion sensing. The former allows you to trigger a different input based on how hard you press the left and right edges of the screen while gaming, but I always mis-press s due to my tendency to press quite hard during frantic gaming sessions. Motion sensing however is disorienting to use so I turned it off.

Camera

Black Shark 5 Pro Camera

The camera experience for both Black Shark 5 variants are… meh. It is your typical mid-range camera affair, though the Pro variant fares better with a higher resolution main shooter. I would have preferred if the macro camera is replaced with a telephoto as it has a limited use case.

Under good lighting conditions, photos appear natural and colours are true to life. However, when shooting under low light, both phones struggle with very visible noise and over-sharpening to compensate the lack of details.

Black Shark 5 Photo Samples

Black Shark 5 Pro Photo Samples

Audio

Black Shark 5 Rear

Speakers for both phones are loud and clear, with good soundstage. The Black Shark 5 Pro fares much better with great treble and bass extension as well. Even at max volume, the Pro variant does not have any noticeable distortion, which is exceptional for smartphone speakers. No wonder it is ranked 1st on DXOMark for audio quality.

The standard variant is decent as well, with distortion only apparent at the loudest volume.

Both phones do not have an audio jack, so you are limited to Bluetooth or a USB-C DAC.

Battery

Both phones come with a 4,650 mAh battery, and battery life is decent. Under constant gaming loads, with brightness turned down, I was able to get about 5-6 hours of battery life before needing to recharge. Luckily, both phones come with a 120W fast charger, which could charge to 100% in 15 minutes.

Our Verdict

Black Shark 5 vs Black Shark 5 Pro Review: Which One Should You Buy? 27

For the price point, both the Black Shark 5 and Pro variant are great options for hardcore mobile gamers. Which phone is the one to get largely depends on your needs and budget.

If you need the best chipset available in 2022 without forking extra for flagship phones, the Black Shark 5 Pro is a great option. On the other hand, if you just need a “good enough” smartphone with gaming features, then the standard variant should be in your shortlist.

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Black Shark 5 vs Black Shark 5 Pro Review: Which One Should You Buy? 14
Written By

Part-time gamer, writer, & full time weird coffee person.

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