Black Shark 5 Pro review
Xiaomi’s Black Shark gaming series has been around for quite some time now and has carved out a good reputation for itself. The latest addition to the proud family is the Black Shark 5 lineup, unveiled back in March with a total of three models so far. What we have for review today is the top-tier Black Shark 5 Pro with all of the bells and whistles, and there are quite a few of those.
Its siblings are the vanilla Black Shark 5 and the Black Shark 5 RS. Those two are a bit hard to position in the lineup, but both include downgrades in the chipset, display and camera departments, compared to the Black Shark 5 Pro.
The Black Shark 5 Pro is a flagship device through and through. A Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 sits at its core, which at least until the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 starts appearing in actual retail devices is currently dominating smartphone performance charts. Xiaomi has that cooled with the help of not one but a pair of vapor chambers, one on each side (4,323 mm + 997 mm). And that’s not the only internal piece that has been “doubled” either.
The Black Shark 5 Pro comes with a total of 512GB of storage, but it is split between 256GB UFS 3.1 and 256GB of NVMe SSD storage. Using the so-called DM Cache technology, Black Shark has allegedly managed to improve the random read and write performance significantly. Also, the fast LPDDR5 (6,400 Mbps) RAM can be used to create a RAM disk for occasions when even faster storage is required.
Xiaomi Black Shark 5 Pro specs at a glance:
- Body: 163.9×76.5×9.5mm, 220g; metal frame, glass back; Physical pop-up gaming triggers.
- Display: 6.67″ OLED, 1B colors, 144Hz, HDR10+, 1080x2400px resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 395ppi; Always-on display.
- Chipset: Qualcomm SM8450 Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (4 nm): Octa-core (1×3.00 GHz Cortex-X2 & 3×2.40 GHz Cortex-A710 & 4×1.70 GHz Cortex-A510); Adreno 730.
- Memory: 256GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM, 512GB 16GB RAM; UFS 3.1/NVMe SSD.
- OS/Software: Android 12, Joy UI 13.
- Rear camera: Wide (main): 108 MP, f/1.8, 1/1.52″, 0.7µm, PDAF; Ultra wide angle: 13 MP, f/2.4, 120-degree; Telephoto macro: 5 MP, f/2.4, AF.
- Front camera: 16 MP, (wide).
- Video capture: Rear camera: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/240fps, 1080p@960fps; HDR10+; Front camera: 1080p@30fps.
- Battery: 4650mAh; Fast charging 120W, 100% in 15 min (advertised).
- Misc: Fingerprint reader (side-mounted); NFC.
The internal battery also boasts beefy specs, like a decent 4,650 mAh capacity and 120W Fast charging support. At full speed, that can take the battery from zero to full in just 15 minutes, but a more sparing temperature control mode slows charging down to around 24 minutes. Also, the phone features a battery bypass mode for gaming while external power is plugged in. These are the kind of little features that elevate the user experience, especially on a gaming device.
While on the topic of hardware in pairs, the Black Shark 5 Pro has symmetrical speakers with 1.5 cc cavities. The 5 Pro is currently the top phone in DxOMark’s audio chart with 86 points (beating its predecessors by 5 points). There are also four mics on the device and two ambient light sensors – one on the front and one on the back to perfectly control display brightness.
The display is top-of-the-line hardware as well. The 6.67-inch AMOLED panel has a 144Hz refresh rate and 720Hz touch sampling. It is also a 10-bit panel with support for HDR10+ and promises excellent DCI-P3 color accuracy and coverage.
Skimping a bit on the camera setup has been a rather typical practice on gaming phones in the past, but at least on paper, it seems that’s not the case with the Black Shark 5 Pro. It has a big 108MP main cam with a 1/1.52″ sensor, plus a 13 MP ultra wide-angle camera (120-degree) and a 5 MP telephoto macro lens. It focuses from as close as 3-7 cm of distance for some close-up action.
All of this starting at a reasonable domestic MSRP of CNY 4,200 ($660/€595). A global release is also planned for a later date.
The Black Shark 5 Pro ships inside a sturdy two-piece box with plenty of green color accents and aggressive geometric shapes all over. Everything is secure, and there is even a plastic cradle for the phone on the inside, so we are happy with it.
The accessory package is actually abundant by modern standards. First and foremost, you get a 120W charger. It is very much a proprietary Xiaomi brick that is a bit heavier than your average wall ward but not that big, making it feel “dense”. It uses GaN tech.
The model is formally known as the MDY-13-EE and is rated for the following outputs: 5V@3A (15W), 9V@3A (27W), 11V@6A (66W), 20V@5A (120W).
A couple of interesting details here. First, this particular brick can only deliver 120W with a power grid of around 220 volts, like in Europe. If 110V is what you have, then the total max output would be 20V@4.8A (96W). Second, the brick still relies on a USB Type-A to Type-C cable. One that is rated for 6A, which is proprietary, so you better hold on to it.
Aside from the charger and cable, our Black Shark 5 Pro also came with a sturdy and great quality plastic case in the box. Also, some “gamer” stickers.
Unfortunately, there is no Type-C to 3.5mm dongle, which would have been appreciated in the absence of a 3.5mm jack on the phone.
This seems like the proper place to mention that there are several additional, optional accessories on offer for the Black Shark 5 Pro. Things like a new version of the Black Shark active external cooler, plus a special case to optimize its efficiency. Also, some beefier button attachments for the pair of pop-out side triggers on the Black Shark 5.
We didn’t get any of these toys in our review kit, though, so we couldn’t test them just yet.