The Black Shark 2’s pressure-sensitive screen makes mobile gaming better

by | Aug 11, 2019 | REVIEW

Gaming on a touchscreen is one of my least favorite things to do. One-handed games that are a natural fit for a phone aren’t an issue for me, but tapping and swiping in games with complex control schemes can be maddening.

The Black Shark 2, a Xiaomi-made gaming phone released in China earlier this year, reduces that friction with its MagicTouch feature. It relies on the phone’s pressure-sensitive display to let you reassign controls to a more convenient location on the screen. It works similarly to 3D Touch on the iPhone, changing the screen’s response depending on how hard you push on it, except it’s more useful. MagicTouch can be activated in-game by swiping in from the top right corner of the screen while gaming in landscape mode (games in portrait mode, like Pokémon Go, aren’t supported). Its interface asks you to choose which two button mappings you’d like to change, and where you’d like them to live on the screen. Obviously, how you choose to customize is up to you, but the idea here is to reduce, if not eliminate, awkward finger movements during gameplay.

Although the usual move has been for OnePlus to build a higher-spec phone around a mid-range Oppo chassis or screen design and strip down the software, that’s not what’s happened here. The Reno 10x Zoom is every bit as high-end and performant as the OnePlus 7 Pro, but with advantages and disadvantages of its own.

Read Techs Score

  • Camera 70% 70%
  • Battery 78% 78%
  • Display 90% 90%
  • Value for Money 88% 88%

PROS

E

Fast performance for a reasonable price

E

MagicTouch makes gaming more enjoyable

E

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CONS

E

It’s months behind on security updates

E

The design won’t appeal to most

E

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PUBG on mobile is a great example to focus on. It’s already designed with tremendous control customization, allowing players to change the location of literally every button, as well as their size and transparency. Where MagicTouch compliments it is by letting me make two multifunction buttons, made possible with the phone’s pressure-sensitive touchscreen.

Originally, PUBG’s controls put the “Sprint” button where your finger naturally rests to move the character. I’d prefer to be able to sway my avatar left and right to avoid gunfire, while managing inventory on the right side of the screen. Usually, that involves tapping the “Inventory” button near the bottom corner of the screen. MagicTouch lets me create a secondary action right over the “Sprint” button that, when I press the screen hard enough, opens the inventory on the right side without lifting a finger.

MagicTouch lets you customize one button on the right side, too, and for PUBG, I knew exactly what else I wanted to change. You can already move the camera, whether in third- or first-person view, by moving a finger around in the right half of the screen. That’s fine, but I don’t want to have to lift that finger to find the “Fire” button when I stumble upon another player. So, I anchored a MagicTouch button to this part of the screen that fires my weapon when I press hard enough. It feels like this is the way the game is intended to be played.