Black Shark 5 Pro review: 'A must-see for gamers who don't want to sacrifice photography'

BlackShark 5 Pro gaming phone
(Image: © Future)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

The Black Shark 5 Pro is certainly a powerful device, with blitzing speeds and a gorgeous display up top. Not only that, but the 5 Pro also manages to balance this performance with a solid set of cameras (a rarity in the gaming phone space), making this a must-see for gamers who don't want to sacrifice photography.

Pros

  • +

    Extreme performance

  • +

    Gorgeous OLED panel

  • +

    An actually decent camera system

  • +

    Physical pop-up triggers

Cons

  • -

    Ony minor battery upgrades

  • -

    No audio jack

  • -

    No wireless charging

Why you can trust GamesRadar+ Our experts review games, movies and tech over countless hours, so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about our reviews policy.

The Black Shark 5 Pro sits at the top of Xiaomi's latest gaming phone pyramid, boasting the impressive Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset and bags of RAM to support it. With improvements in cooling, performance, and cameras, the 5 Pro tops out over the baseline Black Shark 5 and the RS model, but certainly carries the price tag to prove it. 

The cheapest model packs 8GB RAM and 256GB of storage for $799, with prices increasing by $100 with every spec upgrade. That's by no means as expensive as the Asus ROG Phone 6, but it's certainly nearing the top-end of the market. However, there are a few key features here (and some stunning performance) that may make the leap worth it. We spent two weeks with the Black Shark 5 Pro to see exactly how the next generation is shaping up.  

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Black Shark 5 Pro Key Specs
Dimensions16.3 x 76.5 x 9.5mm
Weight220g
Display6.67-inch OLED, 1080p, 144Hz
ProcessorQualcomm SM8450 Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
RAM8GB / 12GB / 16GB
Storage256GB / 512GB
OSAndroid 12
Cameras108MP Wide, 12MP Ultra-Wide, 5MP Macro (rear), 16MP Wide (front)
Battery4,650mAh

Black Shark 5 Pro Design

BlackShark 5 Pro phone back

(Image credit: Future)

While gaming phones can generally get away with outlandish, sci-fi inspired designs, the Black Shark 5 Pro keeps things more subdued. Yes, you're still getting subtle hints of angular lines and brand iconography, but set against a frosted two-tone back this phone doesn't scream gamer. 

I'm generally wary of these smoother backs, fearing the day it slips straight out of my hand, however there was just enough grip to keep things feeling secure. If you're nervous, though, Black Shark also includes a surprisingly sturdy feeling slip case keeping the phone's core design on top and leaving space for all your triggers and RGB lights. That RGB is reserved for a small logo on the back, shimmering with customizable LEDs which can be configured via the phone's main settings. 

Black Shark 5 Pro camera bump

(Image credit: Future)

There is one major design change over the previous Black Shark 4 Pro here, and that's in the camera bump. The older model keeps things slick with a horizontal collection of lenses, but the 5 Pro steps slightly further into the realm of the mainstream smartphone, with a square array in the top left corner. It's another nod to the more subtle design, maintaining a more business-like aesthetic.

The full-metal frame and OLED display mean that this is no superlight gaming phone, but it still manages to clock under the weight of the chunky RedMagic 7S Pro nicely. 

Black Shark 5 Pro Features

There's a lot to make a hardcore mobile gamer smile in this spec sheet. From the outstanding performance from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip to the split storage system, Xiaomi has positioned the Black Shark 5 Pro as an all-in-one powerhouse. 

That's not to get too bogged down in the internal specs - there's plenty worth celebrating above deck as well - that is aside from the lack of 3.5mm audio jack. The Black Shark 5 Pro swaps the AMOLED display featured on the cheaper models in the lineup for an OLED, but still packs a speedy 144Hz refresh rate (a factor that sometimes drops when making this shift). You're also getting 720Hz touch sampling for an even smoother experience. I found all of that to run at excellent brightness, with full viewability during heat-wave level sunny days. Plus, the auto-brightness adjustments felt quick and responsive to boot.

Black Shark 5 Pro triggers

(Image credit: Future)

Running along the right-hand side of the device, you'll find two pop-out trigger buttons. I was initially sceptical of these clickers, having come from the touch-controlled pads of the RedMagic 7S Pro. I've used so many early variations of gaming phone trigger buttons to know that these pads often feel mushy, and actuate with varying degrees of reliability. However, these are sharp, satsifying, and protrude just enough to remain comfortable during longer periods of play. Not only that, but popping them out with the two adjacent sliders was quick and easy as well.

These triggers can also be assigned almost any command, even when you're outside of gameplay. That's a neat feature that not many other phones are offering right now, and it came in particularly handy as an extra shutter button or toggle to close an app.

Shark Space is still present here as well. Black Shark's software isn't the most comprehensive on the market, but it acts more as a library for all your games (and additional hardware add-ons) and making some lighter changes to refresh rates and turbo-power modes.

Black Shark 5 Pro Performance

3D Mark Benchmarks

Wild Life - Over scale

Wild Life Extreme - 2,532

All of that power combines to create some stunning performance on both a day to day basis and in more intense gaming sessions. Pushing regular use to the max, running multiple Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides windows, zipping between emails, playing music from Spotify, and dipping in and out of YouTube, there was nothing that could faze this device. Of course, if I experienced anything less, then there would have been a serious problem - this phone is running some of the latest and greatest components after all. 

Black Shark 5 Pro gaming

(Image credit: Future)

Bumping everything up to full whack and switching into an overdrive preset, my experience with Call of Duty Mobile and PUBG was nothing short of sublime. I didn't witness any crashes, framerates were solid, and load times were as snappy as I've ever seen on high-end gaming phones. Add all of that to the solid color representation and excellent motion handling and you've got yourself a luxury mobile gaming experience here.

Throttling only came into play when bumping things up to Ultra settings while in full brightness, and even then I only noticed the occasional smudge on the Black Shark 5 Pro's unflappable record.

Black Shark 5 Pro Cameras

The camera system embedded in the Black Shark 5 Pro may go a long way to convincing you of this device's place in your pocket. While the vast majority of gaming phones tend to skimp on these lenses, the 5 Pro does an excellent job of keeping your Instagram account as stocked as your Google Play library. I was able to capture a nice level of detailing from the impressive 108MP wide-angle lense, with noticeably impressive light handling and clarity. 

The 5x digital zoom is a nice benefit on paper - in practice, I struggled to save any photo taken at more than 2x zoom with edits later on. Still, that's more than I could say for other devices. 

Black Shark 5 Pro Battery

The Black Shark 5 Pro uses a 4,650 mAh battery, a small upgrade over the 4,500mAh battery of the 4 Pro. While it's a solid amount of power when taken in isolation, the hefty components under the hood do feel like they're crying out for more energy. I managed around 3 hours of intense screen-on time per charge, and did need to top up during the day when using casually. In an average social media / emails / 15 minute gaming session day, I was running low by around 6pm. 

That said, juicing up is a doddle thanks to the 120W fast-charging support. Over in the US, though, it will be difficult to take full advantage of this. 

Should you buy the Black Shark 5 Pro?

The Black Shark 5 Pro is certainly a powerful piece of kit, ready to take on anything you can throw at it. With some neat additional features like retractable triggers, a subtle design, and 120W fast charging, there's plenty to keep folks interested here - particularly if you're looking for a gaming phone that doesn't sacrifice camera quality. In fact, these lenses are so rare on devices as powerful as this, we'd recommend anyone who fits that bill immediately head over to the 5 Pro. 

There's still plenty here to sway those who aren't fussed about their photography skills. The sheer performance on offer is well worth the Black Shark 5 Pro's higher asking price compared to the 4 Pro. However, if you're looking to spend a little less (or pick up more RAM / storage for your cash) it's well worth checking out the RedMagic 7S Pro and RedMagic 7 Pro

How we tested the Black Shark 5 Pro

I used the Black Shark 5 Pro as my daily driver device over the course of two weeks, using it for all work, browsing, streaming, and play. I used Call of Duty Mobile, PUBG, Fortnite, and Magic: The Gathering Arena to test in real-world situations and also ran industry benchmarks through 3D Mark. You can find out more about how we make our recommendations in our full GamesRadar+ Hardware Policy

If you're looking to double down on your on-the-go thumb tapping, take a look at the best mobile controllers and best gaming earbuds available. Or, for something a little larger, check out the best gaming tablets.

More info

Available platformsHardware, Android
Less
Tabitha Baker
Managing Editor - Hardware

Managing Editor of Hardware at GamesRadar+, I originally landed in hardware at our sister site TechRadar before moving over to GamesRadar. In between, I've written for Tom’s Guide, Wireframe, The Indie Game Website and That Video Game Blog, covering everything from the PS5 launch to the Apple Pencil. Now, i'm focused on Nintendo Switch, gaming laptops (and the keyboards and mice that come with them), and tracking everything that suggests VR is about to take over our lives.