The Xiaomi BlackShark Helo. Xiaomi

  • The Black Shark Helo gaming phone has been launched by Xiaomi.
  • The new phone is largely similar to the old one, but offers an OLED screen and up to 10GB of RAM.
  • Xiaomi’s latest device has a starting price of roughly $461.


Xiaomi‘s Black Shark was one of many gaming phones to arrive in the wake of the Razer Phone‘s release, offering powerful internals, an optional gamepad accessory, and a suitably “loud” design. The Chinese brand isn’t stopping there though, as today it launched its sequel, the Black Shark Helo.

The display arguably sees the biggest improvement, as Xiaomi swaps out an LCD panel for an AMOLED screen. It’s still a notchless, 6-inch 2,160 x 1,080 display (thank goodness), but the switch to OLED tech means you can expect deep blacks and power savings when viewing dark content (or using black themes).

As is the case with the original device, the Black Shark Helo uses an Iris mobile video processor from Pixelworks to deliver picture quality enhancements. But the Pixelworks team has also added the ability to upscale SDR content to HDR, much like the Nokia 7.1. The jury is out on whether the tech produces great results, but hopefully we can put it to the test soon.

An LED strip on the Xiaomi BlackShark Helo. Xiaomi

According to Xiaomi’s website, other Black Shark Helo specs include a Snapdragon 845 chipset, 6GB to 10GB of RAM (that’s more than my work PC), 128GB to 256GB of storage, a 4,000mAh battery, front facing speakers, no headphone jack, and a hardware key to activate performance mode. And yes, the company has taken a page out of Asus’s book by adding a customizable LED light strip to the side of the phone.

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The gaming-focused tricks don’t end there, as the company has also introduced a Gamer Studio feature. This ostensibly lets you tweak processor, touch, display, network and other parameters for specific games. And it seems like configurations can be shared via “Shark Code.” It’s a smart idea, especially when you’ve got games that are poorly optimized for even flagship hardware.

It wouldn’t be a high-end smartphone without a decent camera experience, right? We’ve got a 12MP+20MP f/1.75 rear camera pairing, and a 20MP f/1.75 selfie shooter. We hope Xiaomi has done more than simply slapping the Black Shark’s cameras on the new phone…

The Xiaomi BlackShark Helo with gamepad attachments. Xiaomi

The company has also come to its senses and delivered two gamepad attachments for either side of the phone (as seen above). No longer do you simply get an attachment for a left analogue stick. You’ll get one attachment for the 6GB and 8GB model in the box, but the 10GB variant gets both gamepad attachments anyway.

The phone will initially be available in China and starts shipping on October 30. Expect to pay 3,199 yuan (~$461) for the 6GB/128GB variant, and 3,499 yuan (~$504) for the 8GB/128GB model. There’s no word on pricing for the 10GB/256GB model just yet, but it certainly makes for a beefy variant.

What do you think of the Black Shark Helo? Do you know of a better phone for gaming? Let us know in the comments!

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