The idea of having a phone in your pocket capable of performing at the levels we would expect from say, a console, has always been one that is attractive. However, it’s only within the last couple of years that we have seen manufactures rise to the challenge and look to take it seriously. Razer and Asus for example have had good goes at creating one but if the Nubia Red Magic 3 is anything to go by, Nubia must believe that the idea of dedicated gaming smartphones are here to stay.
In a nutshell, the Red Magic 3 comes along with lightning speeds, a truly large 5,000 mAh battery to keep you gaming for longer, 8K video recording capabilities and even a dedicated switch to launch your gaming experience. Prices for this phone can start from as low as $479, and when you consider phones like the iPhone, Samsung Galaxies and the like, what you get from this phone for such a price is incredible.
The Chinese manufacturer Nubia, which is a subsidiary of ZTE, has really taken to improving upon their original Red Magic whilst keeping it within the same aesthetics values. If you’ve seen the original Red Magic, you’ll recognize the striking angled metal back lined with LED strips down the middle to make it pop. As a phone as well, it’s one that will really take up some space in your hands with a whopping 6.65-inch display and packs a 90Hz refresh rate. Whilst this is below the Razer’s 120Hz refresh rate, not many games support such a high rate so at this point, it’s still a limited feature and not one that should influence your decision making. Regardless, with a refresh rate like that, it's still packing a real punch.
The large screen size, a 240Hz touch response rate and a silky-smooth UI makes for a refreshing and beautiful experience when using the phone. Your photos, media and games will truly ‘pop’ when using the Red Magic 3. However, we must note that the larger screen size would be off-putting for some who prefer a bit of a smaller phone but if you’re a fan of multi-tasking, phone gaming or just like having a large phone – you won’t be disappointed.
One of the main selling points of this phone is its performance, especially given the lower cost of this device. The phone is kitted out with a powerful Snapdragon 855 processor, backed up by 8-12GB of RAM (depending on which model you open your wallet up for), liquid cooling and – somehow – a physical fan inside it all. Quite how all that is packed into the phone is anyone’s guess, but such an impressive array should make for light work of most things and some top-level performances.
In addition, the Red Magic 3 also holds the title of the first actively cooled smartphone due to its use of a physical fan as opposed to a heat-sink or similar. In addition, such dynamic cooling should help assist our fellow gamers with higher-frame-rates and a phone that doesn’t burn up in your hand after a longer session. Certainly, the phone runs cool due to the space between its internal components and the actual back panel.
As most people would expect though from their gaming computer for example, the Red Magic 3 has also introduced a mode where users can customise their performance profiles. Allowing you to switch between Auto, Super performance, Performance Priority and other modes within the phone. Users of the phone will not be left wanting more (although we always want more!) when it comes to performance from this little beast of a phone. The stock Android OS on the phone only serves to add to that performance bubble, offering a smooth performance due to the lack of bloatware you can see on other systems.
The phone also comes with two touch-sensitive shoulder buttons along the edge of the device. Those, along with the rear fingerprint scanner, are able to be mapped to execute different actions, which gives you three physical buttons which can be used for game-play on the device. The phone also comes with a physical switch key to toggle the “Red Magic Game Space 2.0” space. Red Magic Game Space is a feature bundled with the phone that gives you quick access to specific functionality designed to improve your gaming experience. Some of the features include being able to toggle the internal fan, monitoring the temperature and load of the device and screen recording. Perfect for when you want to quickly share those head-shots in PUBG Mobile (Or it's Chinese counterpart!)
However, it’s not all gaming with the Nubia phone. As with most gaming-focused phone, you’d be wrong in assuming that no attention has been paid to the camera. As mentioned earlier, the phone comes with the capability to record in 8K in an industry first. The phone comes with a 48MP Sony senor on the back and a 16MP selfie camera on the front with the camera apps UI proving a bit un-intuitive in terms of finding what you’re looking for.
This though, is where the phone seems to take a bit of a hit in quality but when you consider the phone isn’t focused on this area and also the price, the camera most likely isn’t the main factor you’ll be considering if you’re looking to pick up a Red Magic 3. Regardless, unlike in most gaming phones, it’s nice to see that the camera hasn’t been completely neglected and left to rot in obscurity.
For most gamers, alongside some stunning visuals we also want to be hear what’s going on in crisp and clear quality. As you can tell from the above sections, Nubia have also gone in hard with the audio hardware on this one. The phone comes with dual front-facing speakers and of course, the revered headphone jack. DTS:X and DTS 7.1 alongside 3D sound technologies also integrated within the phone look to provide the user with a premium audio experience, immersing you in the game. To compliment, the Nubia also comes with something called ‘4D Intelligent Vibration’, with haptic feedback that is automatically custom-tailored to suit whatever game you might find yourself playing, mimicking explosions, engines and more. All in all, a fantastic experience all around.
Overall, I need to say that the Red Magic 3 is an amazing, and brilliant, phone to have in your pocket. From a value side of things, it is a beast and presents an amazing value for anyone looking to dip their toes into the gaming phone sector but also get themselves an ‘actual’ phone at the same time.
That aside, it isn’t the best phone. The single-shooter camera lets the side down on what is an impressive looking camera, there’s no NFC and in some places, the interface just lacks a bit in the details. As a whole though, the phone is great and if you’re a gamer, you’ll love this phone and will get a kick out of having it in your hands. If you’re looking to dip your toe in the waters, we'd heartily recommend this phone to anyone looking to get started.