I’ve just reviewed the Xiaomi Black Shark 5 Pro – more specifically, I’ve been playing games on it non-stop, but since it’s a gaming phone I think this is an acceptable way of testing it – and it was difficult task to put it down.
The handset is great for gaming – it’s got a powerful processor and a nice-looking screen, but my favorite aspect is the physical triggers that you can assign to functions in a game. That means when you press those edge-mounted buttons, the phone thinks you’re pressing a specific area of the screen. So in a shooting game you can map one to aim button and another to shoot button to make it faster press both.
In fact, the Black Shark 5’s triggers were so useful that playing online competitive titles felt unfair – a fact the recent launch of Apex Legends Mobile rammed home.
Physical triggers aren’t exactly new to Android phones, and for a number of years gaming phones I’ve tested, like the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel and Nubia Red Magic 6, have had haptic triggers – meaning you’re pointing at a spot on the Edge of tap device and your finger will be captured.
The Black Shark 5 Pro has the best version of this I’ve tried (I should point out that the Black Shark 4 Pro and Poco F4 GT also use them, although I haven’t tested them).
The triggers physically protrude, and you get a satisfying “click” when you press them – meaning you know exactly how much force you need to use to press and when your touch was recorded. It’s the closest feeling I’ve had to testing a phone with a gaming controller.
But that’s the problem – I’m the only one using these triggers.
A hardware show
The world of mobile gaming is incredibly diverse when it comes to hardware – you could be playing on a team with people using the top-end Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra or a budget Motorola phone and you’d never know.
For the most part, game developers are addressing this discrepancy and making titles as accessible as possible so that a flimsy phone isn’t an obstacle. Still, screen quality and refresh rate can make a difference – and this is especially true for triggers.
It’s hard to deny that triggers give you an edge when playing online shooters. Since you generally use the same thumb to move and shoot, in order to attack someone you have to stop your movement, move your thumb, find the fire button and press it – this can be a time-consuming process. You can move and shoot, but it’s fiddly.
Triggers interrupt this process – you just keep your index finger on the frame of the phone and when you need to shoot, just press your digit a little – it’s incredibly easy.
While your opponent spends time grabbing the “shoot” button, your finger is already taking off after you blast it.
Apex Legends came at a bad time…
I’d been looking forward to Apex Legends Mobile for a while, but its release came at the same time the Black Shark 5 Pro showed up at my door – and I’ve just described how much advantage this phone has given me.
Black Shark has made it too easy to deal with frantic fights when many different teams converge on the same point at the same time. I didn’t have to play tactically like everyone else as my improved reaction times made me deadly.
Looking at my stats now, my average damage per game is over 2,000 while my KD ratio is over 35 – in the nine games I’ve played I’ve won seven of them.
And I should make it clear that I’m not bragging – I’m just average at games most of the time. But this hardware gave me such an advantage that it turned me from “indistinguishable from a bot” to a “normal MVP”.
is this cheating Well, that depends on your definition – I’m not literally hacking the game like a lot of people do with these online shooters, but I’m using tools that not every gamer has access to.
Thankfully, I won’t have to sit on this moral dilemma for long – I’m already reviewing another triggerless phone – but it’s definitely something to think about if you’re considering buying the Black Shark or any similar device.