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The Xiaomi Black Shark 3 Pro gaming phone has physical shoulder buttons

The latest handsets in Xiaomi’s line of Black Shark gaming phones have been officially unveiled in China. 

As you’d expect from gaming phones, these are two handsets with big specs and a look that, put politely, won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Seemingly inspired by the neon strip lighting of certain gaming laptop manufacturers, these aren’t handsets that’ll get mistaken for iPhones any time soon.

Related: Best gaming phones

But it’s what’s on the inside that counts, so let’s have a quick inventory of what makes the Black Shark 3 and Black Shark 3 Pro tick. Both feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor backed by either 8 or 12GB RAM and 128 or 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage. Both have the same triple-camera array featuring a 64-megapixel primary snapper, supported by 13-megapixel wide-angle and 5-megapixel ToF lenses. Both have 90Hz OLED screens, 65W fast charging and 3.5mm headphone jacks.

But it’s the differences that make things interesting: The Black Shark 3 Pro comes with physical shoulder buttons for the first time, making it feel a lot more like an actual gaming controller. Other phones have flirted with this before – the Asus ROG Phone and Nubia Red Magic 3 to name two – but they’ve included capacitive shoulder buttons rather than actual triggers. We’ll just have to see how having chunky physical buttons on the side of a handset affects regular Android activities.

Related: Best Android phones

The other differences between the Pro and regular Black Shark 3 come down to sizing. The Pro is 7.1-inches to the regular model’s 6.67-inches, and it also gets a high-resolution 2K screen. This larger frame also allows for a slightly bigger battery, but both are pretty sizable: 4720mAh in the regular model, and 5000mAh in the Pro.

If you’re interested, you’ll have to wait a while as they’re coming to China immediately with an international release in the “near future”. The good news is that the prices are as competitive as we’ve come to expect from Xiaomi, with a starting price of 3499 yuan (~£393) for the 8GB/128GB Black Shark 3. Even the most expensive version – a 12GB/256GB Black Shark 3 Pro – will cost 4999 yuan (~£561.)

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