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Whether you consider them to be a fad or think they’re here to stay, one thing is pretty clear: gaming phones are a thing, and Android OEMs are taking them seriously. They’re definitely not a new concept: the Xperia Play launched in 2011 and was the first gaming-oriented smartphone to launch into the mainstream. But those were different times. Modern smartphones are a lot more capable than before and are able to run heavier, more demanding games. Mobile GPUs are getting better, and may soon even start rivaling desktop-grade ones. So it makes sense for gaming smartphones to exist: spec-packed, feature-rich smartphones catered to gamers.
This gaming smartphone trend was kickstarted by the original Razer Phone last year. ASUS followed with the ROG Phone and, eventually, Xiaomi also wanted a piece of the cake, which they tried to take with the Xiaomi Black Shark. Now, the Xiaomi Black Shark Helo has been announced, bringing substantial improvements over the original Black Shark in order to make for an even better gaming experience.
Xiaomi Black Shark Helo Specifications
|Category||Xiaomi Black Shark Helo|
|Dimensions and Weight||160 x 75.25 x 8.7mm, 190g|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 @ 2.8GHz|
|Rear Cameras||12MP (1.25µm pixel size, f/1.75 aperture) + 20MP (1.0µm pixel size, f/1.75 aperture) w/ dual-tone LED flash|
|Front Camera||20MP, f/2.2 aperture|
|Display||6.01-inch 1080×2160 18:9 AMOLED HDR Display, 402 PPI|
|Audio||No 3.5mm headphone jack, stereo speakers, FM Radio|
|Battery||4,000mAh battery w/ fast charging|
|Ports||USB Type-C (USB 2.0)|
|Fingerprint scanner||Yes (rear-mounted)|
|Software||Android 8.1 Oreo (JOY UI)|
Wi-Fi 802.11 ac (2.4 GHz/5GHz)
LTE with VoLTE
GPS / GLONASS
|Pricing||Starting at 3,199 yuan (~$416)|
|Availability||Available October 30th|
The Xiaomi Black Shark Helo, rather than being a full-blown successor, seems to be more of a mid-cycle refresh, making key improvements to address some of the original Black Shark’s weaknesses. The SoC of choice here is, once again, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845—the Snapdragon 8150/855 has not been announced yet, and if previous Qualcomm releases tell us anything, it is not shipping on devices until early 2019, so we can’t expect a lot of improvement in this regard. The external design is changed ever so slightly: the dual camera setup is now vertically mounted and centered, and the fingerprint sensor is now mounted on the back.
The screen is still an FHD+ 18:9 panel without a screen notch. Xiaomi has opted for using notches on several of their devices, but they seemed to skip that here. It also has a built-in liquid cooling setup, improved from its predecessor by featuring 2 liquid cooling pipes which, according to Xiaomi, will be able to reduce the CPU’s temperature by 12 degrees. The Black Shark Helo does introduce a couple of new features and improvements, the most newsworthy of which is the dedicated two-stage Shark key. It’s similar in fashion to the Alert Slider present in OnePlus devices, except it serves another purpose: enabling the phone’s high-performance gaming mode. Once again, the phone comes with a dedicated left-sided gamepad, and a right-sided add-on will be sold separately this time around. Dual front-facing speakers are also present here.
The Xiaomi Black Shark Helo is also available in a whopping 10 GB of RAM configuration with 256 GB of storage, which, coupled with the high-end Snapdragon 845 processor, should be able to keep your phone nice and snappy for the foreseeable future. As a matter of fact, the upcoming Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 was also confirmed to come in a 10 GB RAM version. And if you think that’s overkill, the phone is also available in 8 GB RAM/128 GB storage and 6 GB RAM/128 GB storage options.
Xiaomi Black Shark Helo Pricing and Availability
The Xiaomi Black Shark Helo is now available for pre-order, and it will go on sale on October 30th. The base 6/128 model is priced at 3199 yuan, roughly 416 dollars. The middle-tier 8/128 model costs 3499 yuan ($504) while the higher-end 10/256 model will set you back 4199 yuan ($605). There’s no information about availability in other countries yet as the phone has only been confirmed to be coming to China so far, but if the phone will become available globally, we’ll get to know that in the coming days/weeks.
What do you think about the Xiaomi Black Shark Helo? Let us know in the comments.
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