Nubia Red Magic review: A new gaming phone for PUBG fans | HT Tech

Nubia Red Magic review: A new gaming phone for PUBG fans

Nubia Red Magic is available online for 29,999. The smartphone features RGB strip on the back and a GameBoost mode for better gaming performance. Check out our full review. 

| Updated on: May 11 2021, 21:32 IST
Nubia Red Magic runs on Snapdragon 835 processor.
Nubia Red Magic runs on Snapdragon 835 processor. (HT Photo)

Brand: Nubia
Product: Nubia Red Magic
Key specifications: 5.99-inch full HD display, Android Oreo, Snapdragon 835 processor, 8GB RAM, 24-megapixel rear camera, 8-megapixel front camera, 3,800mAh battery
Price: 29,999
Rating: 3/5

With mobile games like PUBG becoming a rage, smartphone companies are trying to cash in on the trend with gaming-focused devices. From Asus ROG to Xiaomi Black Shark, a number of new phones launched in 2018 to woo mobile gaming enthusiasts. The latest gaming smartphone to launch in India is Nubia Red Magic.

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Priced at 29,999, Nubia Red Magic comes with unique design including a 'world's-first RGB' strip on the back. The phone is said to be optimised for more than 100 games including Arena of Valor. It also comes with software-based Gameboost mode to optimise the performance and better gaming experience on the smartphone.

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Nubia Red Magic, however, comes with dated specifications - Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, which is now at least two year old chipset. Qualcomm has already launched Snapdragon 855 processor for 2019 flagship phones. It runs on the last year's Android Oreo out-of-the-box.

Design: It's unique

Nubia Red Magic stands out from the crowd with its unique back panel. It features RGB strip that illuminate when you're playing game or receive any notification. The convex build adds to the uniqueness. Both rear camera and fingerprint sensor are in hexagonal slot.

The front is dominated by a full HD display. The top bezel houses the front-facing camera and mic. It also has a LED notification light on the top. The base has USB Type-C port whereas the top edge houses 3.5mm headphone jack. On the right edge, the phone houses volume and power buttons. It also has a dedicated slider to activate the Gameboost mode. The slider is quite similar to Alert Slider on OnePlus phones.

A closer look at Nubia's new gaming phone
A closer look at Nubia's new gaming phone (HT Photo)
image caption
A closer look at Nubia's new gaming phone (HT Photo)

Red Magic definitely looks different from the regular premium phones. The gaming theme isn't subtle at all. What we liked about the phone is the unibody build (anodised aluminum) and compact form factor which makes it easier grip both in portrait mode and landscape modes. At 185 grams, Red Magic does feel slightly heavy.

Camera: Needs improvement

In an era of dual cameras and quad cameras, Nubia Red Magic is behind the competition with its singular 24-megapixel rear camera. It's sluggish and struggles to capture details, making you retake shots over and again. It does take satisfactory photos in daylight but a few shots came little oversaturated.

Colours are a bit oversaturated
Colours are a bit oversaturated (HT Photo/Kul Bhushan)
image caption
Colours are a bit oversaturated (HT Photo/Kul Bhushan)

In lowlight, Nubia Red Magic struggles to get the focus right and even delivers shaky images. Fortunately, there's bare minimum noise in lowlight photos. A limited capability of the Pro mode is also quite disappointing. The 8-megapixel selfie camera delivers good enough photos to share on the social networking platforms.

Camera loses focus in low/dark light condition
Camera loses focus in low/dark light condition (HT Photo/Kul Bhushan)
image caption
Camera loses focus in low/dark light condition (HT Photo/Kul Bhushan)

Performance: Gamers' delight

Despite running on dated Snapdragon 835 processor, playing games such as PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9 is a delight on the Red Magic. For instance, PUBG Mobile opens in maximum settings and doesn't lag at all on the phone. The GameBoost is a pleasant add-on. The mode allows you to block app notifications, bump up the performance, and even hide the bottom navigation buttons. With air vents on the rear, the phone doesn't heat up much after long session of gaming. The speakers are pretty loud as well.

Powered by a 3,800mAh battery, Nubia Red Magic has an impressive battery life. The phone easily delivers more than a day battery life with heavy usage that includes long sessions of gaming, browsing and multimedia streaming. On moderate usage, the phone can deliver even higher battery life.

RGB strip comes in 16 million colours
RGB strip comes in 16 million colours (HT Photo)
image caption
RGB strip comes in 16 million colours (HT Photo)

While gaming is fun on the phone, software needs minor tweaks. For instance, its default keyboard feels pesky with shortcut to download more games and even shows advertisements. Oreo is a fine OS but it's old now. With Android Pie bringing a range of new features, especially optimisation for full-screen phones, Red Magic feels little dated.


Should you buy Nubia Red Magic? The smartphone does offer unique design and its RGB strip will definitely get everyone's attention. But we don't think it's a smart move to invest in a phone running two-year old chipset. We've seen much better cameras on competing phones such as OnePlus 6T and even Xiaomi Mi A2. If you're looking for a gaming phone to buy right now, Asus ROG Phone and even OnePlus 6T (including McLaren Edition) are the best options.

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First Published Date: 31 Jan, 10:42 IST

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