Nubia Red Magic review
Nubia Red Magic has been launched as the new smartphone targeting gaming enthusiasts in the country. Lately, the gaming phones have become a new trend among smartphone makers as every single manufacturer is trying to come up with a device for the so-called gaming generation where the credit can be given to games like PUBG and others. However, whenever someone asks you about a gaming phone, the Razer Phone or maybe the Asus ROG phone might be the names to hit your mind first. But here comes the Nubia Red Magic, which has been launched in India as the most affordable gaming phone in the country.
To put everything out there, the Nubia Rec Magic comes with over a year old processor, the Snapdragon 835 SoC and this is one of the reasons why its price is even lower than the OnePlus 6T in the country. On the other hand, it only takes one look at the Nubia Red Magic to know that it was designed as a no-nonsense smartphone for gamers. Be it the air vents or the Red and Black theme coupled with a new cutting-edge design; the Nubia Red Magic stands out in the crowd.
Been considered as a popular gaming smartphone and that too in the mid-range segment is not an easy nut to crack, and while Asus ROG phone is still struggling to justify its price tag, the Nubia Rec Magic tries to do the unthinkable. However, will the Nubia Rec Magic be able to become a popular choice among budget buyers looking for a performance-oriented phone? Does the Nubia Rec Magic justify its gaming smartphone tag? What else does it offer apart from the company claimed high-power performance credentials? Here we try to find out answers to all these questions. Let’s begin with our Nubia Red Magic review.
Low-light camera performance
No Face Unlock
Nubia Red Magic Review: Design and display
Gaming smartphones have always come with some of the most unusual designs, and the Nubia Red Magic is no exception. One look at the smartphone and you will realise that it is one of the best-looking devices in this price range. However, we have to agree that the unusual design is best suited for gaming and not for regular purpose. The attention to detail on the Nubia Red Magic is noteworthy be it the all-black base with Red inserts or the way the fingerprint scanner has been housed or the air vents at the back; you might not have seen anything like this smartphone. The Nubia Red Magic features a 6-inch (1080×2160 pixels) Full HD+ LCD display at the front and while the thick top as well as bottom bezels with 18:9 aspect ratio does act like a sore to eyes since we have seen a lot of displays with notch and 19:9 aspect ratio in this segment.
At the top of the display, there is a speaker grill, the front camera sensor, and the notification light. The bottom chin, on the other hand, doesn’t feature any capacitive keys and Nubia could have made it a little thin. On the right side of the Nubia Red Magic you get the physical game boost button, volume rockers, and the power button while at the left, you get the dual SIM tray without any microSD card slot. At the top of the device, there is the 3.5 mm audio jack while USB Type-C port and the mic placed at the bottom.
Turn to the rear panel of the Nubia Red Magic, and you will be left mesmerised with the kind of design theme you see. There are four air vents, one of which houses the speaker as well, the vertical RGB LED strip which lights up when you have unseen notifications or are using the Game Mode and a pyramid-shaped design. Then there is the rear camera sensor and the fingerprint scanner which is placed inside a hexagonal shape along with the LED flash.
During our review, we found that the Nubia Red Magic is very slippery in hands due to the metal build; however, the curved edges do help in using the smartphone with one side. Moreover, the fingerprint scanner, volume rockers, and the power buttons were well in the reach of our fingers while the device is indeed a little on the heavier side. The tactile feel of the device is nice and you won’t feel cheaply built components. One of the issues we faced with the device was when we placed it on a plain surface where the Red Magic toppled and never settled because of the new design language for the rear.
Nubia Red Magic sports a 6-inch (1080×2160 pixels) Full HD+ LCD display with 18:9 aspect ratio and 85 per cent NTSC colour gamut. The display offers right viewing angles. However, outdoor visibility is just average. The LCD display does provide an ample amount of colour when watching high-quality videos or playing graphics-heavy games. The brightness levels won’t help you much when you are watching a video or want colours to pop up under direct sunlight, and we do feel that Nubia should have added a better panel because the segment also has a couple of AMOLED displays as well. The touch response is excellent while you won’t face many difficulties in consuming high quality connect in indoor conditions.
Nubia Red Magic Review: Performance and software
The performance has to be one of the strongest areas for the Nubia Red Magic as it comes with the Qualcomm octa-core Snapdragon 835 processor clocked at 2.45GHz and coupled with Adreno 540 GPU. It features an 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 128GB of (UFS 2.1) inbuilt storage. While the smartphone runs Android 8.1 Oreo out-of-the-box, it does come with the Nubia Red Magic OS on top.
When we first received the Nubia Red Magic for our review, we still had our doubts in regards to the performance credentials since it features 2017’s processor and we already have seen Xiaomi Poco F1 with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC or even the OnePlus 6T. Moreover, Nubia Red Magic has been heavily marketed as a gaming smartphone, and the first thing you will do once getting your hands on will be downloading some high graphics and big storage games. And that is what we did.
We played games such as PUBG Mobile, Modern Combat 5 and Asphalt 9 Legends on the Nubia Red Magic but if you thought that this particular device would offer the same feel as that of other gaming-centric smartphones from a more premium price range, then this is not the case. The Nubia Red Magic is a good smartphone for gaming at best, but the specific gaming smartphone feel is somewhat missing. The device tends to choose lower graphics settings for massive games such as PUBG Mobile while Asphalt 9 Legends took more than usual time to load, even on a regular network.
While playing these games, we didn’t feel any sort of lags or frame drops in extended sessions, and the touch response is also great. However, the app loading time and low graphics limitation due to the LCD display was a little bit of a letdown in the overall gaming experience. The GameBoost mode was off a bit of help as we were able to choose whether app notifications needed to be blocked when playing games while there is also the “Button Anti-misoperation” setting which locks the home button to prevent accidental visits to the home screen during a gaming session. You can unlock the home button by double tapping on it. Moreover, we were able to see better frame rates and loading time when the GameBoost mode was enabled.
When it comes to multitasking and switching from one application to another, the Nubia Red Magic was quick to reload apps running in the background such as Facebook, WhatsApp or any other social media applications along with games such as Subway Surfers and more. We ran benchmark testing apps on the Nubia Red Magic, it scored 215,463 on AnTuTu while it scored 1,987 and 6,671 in Geekbench’s single-core and multi-core tests, respectively.
Coming to the software, the Nubia Red Magic offers a near-stock Android experience despite the custom Nubia Red Magic OS on top but sadly comes with the August 2018 security patch. Kika Keyboard is the only preloaded app which didn’t entice us much to use it. The user interface is quick and free of any bloatware while navigating to any menu is easy, thanks to the stock Android settings.
Sadly, users won’t get face to unlock feature with the Nubia Red Magic smartphone. However, the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner is quick and precise. On the other hand, despite the audio speaker being placed in one of the air vents on the rear panel, the sound quality was excellent and loud. That said, we would have loved front-firing speakers with the Nubia Red Magic since the bottom bezel has been left empty.
Nubia Red Magic review: Cameras
The Nubia Red Magic is not the best camera phone that exists in this segment, but it is not the worst either. The smartphone comes with a 24-megapixel rear camera with f/1.7 aperture, dual-tone LED flash and 6P lens while at the front, there is an 8-megapixel camera with f/2.0 aperture and a 76.9-degree wide-angle lens. Unlike many other smartphones in the price segment, you won’t get a dual rear camera module.
Moreover, we have become habitual of seeing a lot of modes in the camera app, however, with the Nubia Red Magic you get Photo, Video, and Pro modes. That said, there is a ‘Camera Family’ menu which includes features such as Multi-exposure, Light Drawing, Clone, Time-Lapse, and E-Aperture. We tried using all these features, and the Clone mode turned out to be a great option has it offered great composition shots.
Nubia Red Magic camera sample
Coming to the real-life performance of both the front and rear cameras on the device. The photo quality from the rear camera was quite good as pictures clicked in outdoor conditions and with a right amount of lighting turned out above average. There were the right amount of colours while the focus was sharp and quick. We were impressed with how the camera captured bright colours; however, the images lacked some in-depth details which was visible once we focused in on a picture on our system. There was also some excessive warmth in pictures clicked under direct sunlight, but some users might like saturation levels as well.
Under low light or at night, pictures came out a little dark and lacked details. Even when we tried to be still, there were some unwanted noise and motion blur while the focus also needed some time to adjust. On multiple attempts, we were able to get some pictures right.
Nubia Red Magic camera sample
Coming to the front camera, the quality of the pictures was surprisingly better than our expectations. While you won’t get features such as bokeh mode, panorama and more, the 76.9-degree wide-angle lens lets you capture good group selfies. The colours pop up when you need them to be while the focus was also quick. Other than the fact that the Nubia Red Magic doesn’t come with some common camera features, the front sensor can capture some sharp details with good saturation levels and details.
Nubia Red Magic review: Battery
The Nubia Red Magic comes with a 3800mAh battery with USB Type-C fast charging support, and the battery can last for a whole day on mixed usage including 2 hours of gaming, online streaming for around the same time, one hour of music consumption regular social media updates, WhatsApp and calling. On a full charge, we were able to end the day with a little over 20 per cent battery still left. Meanwhile, the phone takes around one hour and 30 minutes to charge from zero to 100 per cent.
Nubia Red Magic ratings
Nubia Red Magic review: Verdict
The Nubia Red Magic looks exactly like a gaming smartphone, and the RGB highlight acts as the cherry on the cake for this device. However, when it comes to the internals, the over-a-year-old chipset and LCD display does make the Nubia Red Magic lack in that proper high-octane performance feel, which is the primary expectation from a gaming smartphone. On the other hand, its stand out from the crowd regarding design and is still one of the best gaming-centric smartphones in this segment.
It lacks behind in the camera department and the likes of Nokia 7.1 Plus or even the Asus Zenfone 5Z, which are even cheaper than the Nubia Red Magic, offer better sensors as well as real-life results on the photography front. On the other hand, it makes up for all that with excellent battery life, a striking design and some nifty gaming features such as the GameBoost or the RGB LED light.
All in all, one should not buy the Nubia Red Magic expected it to be a hard-core gaming phone, but for the overall package, it has to offer as it is still one of the capable smartphones under Rs. 30,000