Xiaomi-backed startup’s first phone is focused on gaming
Black Shark’s new handset is only available in China
A new startup backed by Xiaomi has unveiled its first phone… and it has an add-on joystick.
The Black Shark Gaming Phone -- from the company Black Shark, in case you were wondering -- looks both unique and familiar at the same time.
The curvy back doesn’t look like any other handset out there, while the neon green logo and trim resembles products from gaming company Razer.
It has an almost 6” display and packs a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 845 CPU with 8GB of RAM. Powering it all is a 4,000 mAh battery that Black Shark says will let you play Arena of Valor for five straight hours, or PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds for four hours.
The phone runs a customized Android interface called JOY UI, which lets users pick up calls without pausing a game. (And if you really want to focus, you also have the option to block calls completely while playing.)
Black Shark also says the phone has a very unique feature: Liquid cooling. The company claims it’ll help keep the CPU temperature down by 8 degrees, ensuring the phone doesn’t get too hot in your hands while playing.
But the thing that stands out most is probably the add-on controller. It has a joystick and two shoulder buttons, snapping on to the top of the phone and connecting via Bluetooth. The company says it’s designed to let you aim better in games like PUBG.
Curiously, there’s only one of them -- it doesn’t have a counterpart for the other side with another joystick or buttons, like a traditional game controller, meaning you’ll still have to use virtual buttons on the touchscreen.
Black Shark is one of over a hundred companies that form what Xiaomi calls its “ecosystem.” Xiaomi has a limited stake in many of these, but doesn’t fully own them or control what they do. Instead, they each get something out of it.
Companies like Black Shark benefit from a degree of cross promotion -- they get increased visibility by association with Xiaomi and are sometimes brought up at the bigger company’s events. (CEO Lei Jun wrote about the Black Shark Gaming Phone on his Weibo account, and attended Friday’s launch event.)
And Xiaomi gets to sell many of these products in their official retail stores, as well as being able to fill out their product lineup without actually having to develop and build the products themselves -- which is how the company is able to sell everything from water purifier to toy robots in its stores.
The phone comes in two colors (black and gray), with 64GB and 128GB variants. They’re only planning to sell it in China for now, where it goes on sale on April 20.