Following a mid-March reveal in China, the Black Shark 3 and Black Shark 3 Pro are now available to buy in the UK and Europe too. Gaming phones aren’t a new concept, but Black Shark has designed the latest range to stand out in a number of areas, with the Pro variant offering unique features like physical retractable gaming triggers, and there’s a suite of new accessories available too.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Black Shark 3 and Black Shark 3 Pro, including UK release date and pricing information alongside the highlights of the new range.
When will the Black Shark 3 be released in the UK?
The Black Shark 3 range has been available to buy in China since 29 April 2020, and while there was a lengthy gap between the China and UK releases with the Black Shark 2, that’s not the case this time around - although it’s not a straightforward release either.
The base 8GB+128GB Black Shark 3 is set to be released today, 5 May 2020, in the UK and Europe via Black Shark and GearBest before coming to Amazon on 18 May 2020. The more powerful 12GB+256GB variant of the Black Shark 3 is currently scheduled for release at the end of May, with no solid date just yet, and it’s a similar story with the Black Shark 3 Pro, with release currently scheduled for June.
How much does the Black Shark 3 cost?
The base Black Shark 3 with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage costs £539 in the UK, which is a noticeable increase from the £479 base price of the Black Shark 2, and that trend doesn’t stop there either. The upgraded 12GB/256GB variant of the Black Shark 3 costs £649, and if you want the Black Shark 3 Pro, you’ll be paying £799 for the pleasure.
It’s not unheard of to see gaming phones at such a high price - the Asus ROG Phone 2 costs between £599 and £829 and the flagship Red Magic 5G costs between £539 and £599 - but it is a bit of a disappointment to see it here, as previous models of Black Shark smartphones provided incredible value for money, and it’s worth pointing out that you won’t get any of the new accessories in the box either.
As noted above, you’re able to pick up the base Black Shark 3 from Black Shark itself along with GearBest right now, and it should also be available via Amazon in the UK on 18 May 2020. The more expensive 12GB/256GB Black Shark 3 and Black Shark 3 Pro are expected to be available from the same retailers when eventually released, but this is unconfirmed now.
If that’s a little expensive for your taste, take a look at our selection of the best gaming phones right now for other great options.
What’s new with the Black Shark 3 and Black Shark 3 Pro?
The Black Shark 3 range has a similar design aesthetic to the Black Shark 2 from last year, but with all-round enhancements that improve not only the look, but the functionality too.
Let’s start with the similarities; both phones sport the classic X Core design with a diamond-eque shape on the rear, and you’ll also notice not one but three customisable LED areas that double up as notification lights when you receive calls and notifications.
You’ll also find an AI-powered triple camera setup on the rear of both, comprised of a 64Mp main camera alongside a 13Mp ultra-wide and a 5Mp depth-sensing sensor, and the front-facing camera is decent at 20Mp too. Gaming phones don’t have the best rep when it comes to camera functionality, but the Black Shark 3 could remedy this with what looks like a premium camera offering alongside gaming-specific features.
Both variants of Black Shark 3 feature Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 865 5G chipset, providing a boost in performance compared to the Snapdragon 855 of last year’s model as well as the introduction of SA and NSA 5G connectivity, and both are available with either 8- or 12GB of RAM depending on the variant you go for.
The Black Shark 2 range ditched the 3.5mm headphone jack, much to the disappointment of mobile gamers that use wired gaming headsets or external microphones when streaming from the smartphone. For a gaming-focused company that prides itself on giving gamers what they want, it was a bit of a dumb move, and it looks like Black Shark agreed, as the Black Shark 3 range reintroduces the 3.5mm headphone jack - hooray!
The Black Shark 3 range offers incredibly fast 65W fast charging capabilities thanks to a new dual-battery system. Traditionally, consumers have to choose between fast charging and slow discharge, but the design of the Black Shark 3 means it can offer both; Black Shark claims the Pro model can go from flat-to-full in only 38 minutes, with 50 percent charge in just 12 minutes. Those are impressive claims and should seriously reduce the amount of time you spend tethered to your charger.
But while the two variants are similar in a number of ways, there are a handful of features that separate the Black Shark 3 and Black Shark 3 Pro. The main difference is the display; the Black Shark 3 has an already-large 6.67in display while the 3 Pro has, in Black Shark’s own words, a “Super Big” 7.1in display, making it 0.2in bigger than the massive Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and not too far from the 7.9in iPad mini 5!
Both feature AMOLED panels with a 90Hz refresh rate and 270Hz touch input rate, but the Pro has a slightly better resolution at 1440 x 3120 compared to 1080 x 2400 on the standard model. The refresh rate is a little disappointing considering non-gaming flagships in 2020 offer 120Hz and the Red Magic 5G offers a PC-level 144Hz display, but it’s still a marked improvement from the standard 60Hz display of the Black Shark 2 range.
It’s a similar story in the battery department, with the Pro variant offering a large 5,000mAh battery compared to the slightly smaller 4,720mAh battery of the standard Black Shark 3. There’s also more storage on offer from the Pro model, offering a choice of either 256- or 512GB (although the latter isn’t available in the UK) while the standard model offers 128- and 256GB options.
The most exciting feature exclusive to the Black Shark 3 Pro is the physical Master Triggers; sat on the side of the phone (or on the top when holding the phone horizontally) and working in a similar way to triggers on a console controller, the triggers look to improve your performance in online shooters like Call of Duty Mobile without having to buy a separate controller.
The triggers would get in the way in everyday use, which is why the Master Triggers retract into the body of the Black Shark 3 range when not in use. It’s a similar idea to the pop-up cameras we’ve seen in smartphones in recent years, and depending on how well these perform, the Master Triggers could truly be a gamechanger for gaming phones.
But what would a gaming phone be without the optional accessories?
Alongside the new smartphone range, Black Shark also revealed an 18W wireless magnetic charger that snaps to the back of the phone when gaming, providing charge without a USB-C cable getting in the way during intense gaming sessions.
There’s also the new Black Shark Gamepad 3, which ditches the frustrating touch-based right controller of the Black Shark 2, and adds six-axis control in its place.
Even with improved cooling capabilities, the Black Shark 3 will probably get hot during longer gaming sessions, and that’ll have a knock-on effect on the overall performance of the phone. That’s remedied by the Black Shark FunCooler Pro, which features a semiconductor refrigeration chip that can cool your smartphone by 13 degrees in one minute, and while it has been designed for the Black Shark 3 range, you can actually use it on other smartphones too.
Finally, there’s the Black Shark Bluetooth Earphones 2. These earphones sport a neckbud design and, importantly, offer a low 58ms delay. That’s ideal for fast-paced games where every second counts, and they should last for 14 hours on a single charge too. There’s also customisable RGB lights on the buds themselves to add to the overall gamer aesthetic. Because of course there is.
Black Shark 3 and 3 Pro key specs
- Display: 6.67in (Standard) or 7.1in (Pro) 90Hz AMOLED display
- Resolution: 1080 x 2400 (Standard), 1440 x 3120 (Pro)
- Cameras: 64Mp main camera, 13Mp ultra-wide and 5Mp depth-sensing camera on rear, 20Mp selfie camera
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 5G
- RAM: 8/12GB
- Storage: 128/256GB (Standard), 256GB/512GB (Pro)
- Battery: 4,720mAh (Standard), 5,000mAh (Pro)
- 65W Super Fast Charging
- SA+NSA 5G connectivity
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- USB-C connectivity
- Master Trigger retractable trigger buttons (Pro)
- Sandwich Liquid Cooling
- Master Touch 3.0
- JoyUI11, based on Android 10
- X-Axis Linear Motor