Black Shark 5 Pro review: better, faster, stronger, at a cost

You get an improved gaming phone with a nice mix of features, but the price isn't as sweet as the last model.

Black Shark 5 Pro
(Image: © Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

Android Central Verdict

The Black Shark 5 Pro brings just enough newness to its older iteration. The fresh design looks and feels fantastic, it no longer overheats as much, and you get buttery smooth performance. The device has a stunning 144hz OLED panel and magnetic triggers that can be assigned various functions, even outside of gaming. Sadly, the high price and lack of some features hold this gaming phone back.

Pros

  • +

    Unmarred performance that can handle anything

  • +

    Stunning high-end design and 144hz OLED

  • +

    Improved heating issues

  • +

    Multifunctional magnetic triggers

  • +

    Solid set of cameras for photos and videos

  • +

    120W fast charging with brick included

Cons

  • -

    Only two years of untimely updates

  • -

    Incompatible with CDMA carriers

  • -

    No IP rating, audio jack, or wireless charging

  • -

    Ads in native apps don't make sense at this price

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Black Shark is a moderately-known brand by now, bringing you the bread and butter of gaming phones in affordable little packages. This year's Black Shark models are out now, and you can grab them in the form of the Black Shark 5 and 5 Pro variants.

If you're not aware, the last-gen Black Shark 4 Pro was a spectacular budget buy, albeit bundled with small compromises. The biggest issue with the older phone from Xiaomi's sub-brand was its inability to quell overheating issues and embarrassingly short battery life. Needless to say, I was really counting on Black Shark to squash out these key flaws in the newer model.

This was one of the more conflicting phones that I have reviewed, for several reasons. While the Black Shark 5 Pro does much to make up for its predecessor's failings, it also fails to deliver as much value for the asking price. As you make your way through the high points and low points of the phone, you'll see exactly what I mean.

Black Shark 5 Pro: Price and availability

Black Shark 5 Pro

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

The Black Shark 5 Pro released on June 9, 2022. You can grab the regular Black Shark 5 or the maxed out 5 Pro model from various sellers, including Amazon, AliExpress, and Black Shark's official website.

Both Black Shark phones come in two colorways, called Stellar Black and Nebula White. There are various memory configurations available for each gaming phone. Here's what you can expect to pay for either device:

Black Shark 5:

  • 8GB RAM + 128GB ROM for $549
  • 12GB RAM + 256GB ROM for $649

Black Shark 5 Pro:

  • 8GB RAM + 128GB ROM for $799
  • 12GB RAM + 256GB ROM for $899
  • 16GB RAM + 256GB ROM for $999

Black Shark 5 Pro: What's better

Black Shark 5 Pro

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

Black Shark really amped up its efforts to create a striking gaming phone that keeps its outlandishness in check, without becoming one of the masses. Both the Stellar Black and the Nebula White variants of the Black Shark 5 Pro have a frosted back that's almost velvety to the touch. You get blue sheen on top of both colorways that plays tricks with your eyes as the light shifts.

Subtle markings and logos on the back add to the gaming phone aesthetic. The Black Shark logo is still there, and so is the customizable RGB light outfitted into the rear panel. You can play around with the settings in your Black Shark 5 Pro and select what shade or mix of hues you want the RGB light to flash, the speed of the blinking lights, and more.

Another design change that I can get behind is the camera unit. Gone is the horizontal bar from the Black Shark 4 series. In its stead, the Black Shark 5 Pro boasts a rectangular bump that houses a trio of lenses inside. Overall, this is one of the best-looking Android gaming phones out there. Black Shark was considerate enough to include a decent case in the box, allowing your phone's RGB parts to peek through.

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CategoryBlack Shark 5 Pro
Operating SystemJOYUI 13 based on MIUI 13, Android 12
Display6.67 inches, 20:9, 1080x2400, HDR10+, 144Hz, AMOLED, 1300 nits, 720Hz
ProcessorSnapdragon 8 Gen 1
GraphicsAdreno 730
Memory8GB/12GB/16GB, LPDDR5, 6400Mhz
Storage128GB/256GB, UFS3.1, not expandable
Rear Camera 1108MP, 0.7µm, f/1.75 (wide)
Rear Camera 213MP, 1.12µm, f/2.4 (ultrawide)
Rear Camera 35MP, 1.12µm, f/2.4, (macro)
Front Camera16MP, f/2.45, 1.0µm
SecuritySide-mounted fingerprint reader, face unlock
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC
Battery4,650mAh, 120W HyperCharge, USB-C
AudioStereo speakers, no 3.5mm audio jack
Dimensions163.83 x 76.35 x 9.9 mm
Weight220 grams
ColorsStellar Black, Nebula White

The Black Shark 5 Pro is a very well-rounded phone with lots to love. It has retained the last-gen model's 6.67-inch 144Hz OLED panel with 720Hz touch sampling which is silky smooth, highly responsive, and incredibly vibrant. 

The chipset inside has been upgraded to the newer Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, delivering unwavering performance. Thankfully, the overheating issues from the 4 Pro have been fixed and it feels like the anti-gravity dual VC liquid cooling system is doing its job.

The phone's battery has been bumped up from 4,500mAh to 4,650mAh, and you get the same old 120W HyperCharge feature bundled with a compatible brick in the box. You can switch between two charging modes to suit your needs: speed flash filling and constant temperature charging modes. The Black Shark 5 Pro's battery isn't as abysmal as the 4 Pro, though you'll still need to charge at least once before the day's done if you're a power user like me.

Black Shark 5 Pro

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

Biometrics function perfectly, whether you choose to rely solely on the side-mounted fingerprint reader, or combine that with the front camera's face unlocking capabilities. Even though Dolby Atmos isn't on the table anymore, the Black Shark 5 Pro's dual stereo speakers are impressively loud and they sound great.

On the software side, the Black Shark 5 Pro delivers its take on Android 12. The gaming device has its own skin called JOYUI, and this particular phone comes with JOYUI 13 (based on MIUI 13) out of the box. 

Sure, it's nothing like Material You on the Pixel 6 Pro, but Xiaomi's vast array of theming and customizability options more than makes up for it.

The Black Shark 5 Pro offers all you could want for gaming and then some.

There are other things to appreciate here as well, such as the intuitive auto brightness that adapts incredibly well, the picture-in-picture mode that lets you open any app in a tiny window, and something called Magic Press or Master Touch that gives you two extra hotkeys on-screen with adjustable sensitivity levels.

Black Shark 5 Pro

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

For those of you familiar with the Black Shark brand, you'll know about the built-in gaming hub called Shark Space. This is where you can manage all your game settings within the device. 

From mapping the magnetic pop-up Master Triggers, to customizing your in-game crosshair; from changing the refresh rate, to putting your phone into overdrive, all of it is done from the Shark Space. You can also access most of the Shark Space controls in-game in miniature form from Gamer Studio. The pull-down window appears when you swipe in from a corner while running an Android game.

Interestingly, the Black Shark 5 Pro lets you assign non-gaming shortcuts to the magnetic triggers when you're not inside Shark Space. This is done by simply pulling out the triggers outside a game. I used the two trigger buttons to capture screenshots and shoot pictures, which was really handy. This phone offers all you could want for gaming and then some.

Black Shark 5 Pro

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

For the Black Shark 5 Pro, the triple cameras seal the deal. While most gaming phones take so-so pictures that are downright trashy at times, this Black Shark stands out from the crowd. The 108MP wide-angle primary shooter captures impressively detailed images that are crispy clear.

While the dynamic range suffers, sufficient lighting — combined with the right angle — delivers impressive shots. There are so many image editing tools and filters buried in the app, so fixing the lighting is a small matter.