The Nubia Red Magic has always been the gaming equivalent of MSI or ROG laptops when it comes to mobile gaming.
Where the first Nubia Red Magic showed up late to the party, the Red Magic 3 is actually the first Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 device to land in our hands in 2019. Yes, we had to be a little hush about its presence, but now there’s no such formality and we can tell you that there’s a damn fan on this thing. True story.
So here’s what we think about this gaming beast and how it could possibly help you get the edge in PUBG.
Nubia Red Magic 3: Design
Taking cues from ROG and MSI gaming laptops, the Red Magic 3 is angular and menacing in every way. Even if you don’t want the attention, there’ll be people staring at its metal body. The RGB strip at the back doesn’t help to go incognito either. There’s a damn RGB strip at the back, so it's really about personal preference. The Stuff Editor (an iPhone user) will probably run as far away as possible from this design although he too couldn’t help but click a few sneaky shots of this gorgeous behemoth.
There’s a 5000mAh battery inside which is awesome, but that makes the phone pretty heavy as well. There are two touch-sensitive shoulder buttons when using the phone in landscape. You can program them to register a touch on any area of the screen while gaming. Say, where you would rest your thumb for shooting, you can place the marker for the shoulder buttons on that area and use the corresponding shoulder button with your index finger to shoot. It kicks out the need to attach a smartphone controller honestly. PUBG Mobile is generous enough to let you tweak your entire control layout so you have a lot of freedom there.
There’s a slider to switch in and out of GameBoost mode and it’s the only phone with a fan and a heat vent. Yes! There’s an itsy bitsy fan that sucks in air from the back grill and gushes it out from a heat vent placed next to the left shoulder button. Even though it makes the Red Magic 3 very unique and custom to gaming and solely gaming, it needs that similar extra care which you would otherwise give your gaming PC too. More vents and grills mean more chances of dust and water getting in and they’ll probably be that much more annoying than the zombies in your games.
Nubia Red Magic 3: Screen and audio
The 6.65in display is FullHD+ resolution with a 90Hz refresh rate. It’s just a blessing for gamers. The Amoled screen is slightly on the higher contrast side but its pleasing on the eye. Even under harsh sunlight the display is sharp and has a decent peak brightness to keep text readable. There’s nothing to complain about here, even those bezels on top and bottom are forgiven for in exchange of having stereo speakers.
Since the audio is firing right at your face, watching Netflix and Amazon Prime Video is fun. There’s a focus on vocals with greater emphasis on highs and mids but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any bass. Explosions and gunfire from your games and movies have a nice feel to them.
Nubia Red Magic 3: Gaming Performance
Like anything or any device that has promised its allegiance to the gaming community, it has to have a lot of power and a lot of power, this smartphone has in spades. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 is the top dog for 2019 Android smartphones and with UFS 2.1 storage, apps load faster and it’ll be the same for some years to follow. The base model has 8GB of RAM and 128GB storage and if you opt for the 12GB/256GB variant then you might not have to worry much in terms of hardware prowess.
Software is where the Red Magic needs to pull up its socks up. It’s a barebones Android experience which isn’t very pleasing to use. You can’t customise a lot of things unlike the OnePlus 7’s Oxygen OS or even have a better Android experience like you would with the stock Android on Google Pixels.
That said the GameBoost mode this time has got a neat update. Soon as you trigger it with the slider, it puts all your games onto a carousel and lets you configure control centre settings easily. Block messages, calls, notifications, adjust brightness and just about anything to let you focus on one thing and one thing only and that’s gaming. You can even manually set the fan to Rapid Cooling mode that will cool down any heat from the gaming. The intelligent mode is better and it manages to keep the temperature and the noise down.
Is the fan of any use? Only for very, very long hours of gaming. Straight up two and a half hours of PUBG continuously will keep the CPU from throttling so you won’t notice much of a performance drop. Is there any difference in gaming performance on this and OnePlus 7? Or even the OnePlus 7 Pro? Except for the RGB light and the shoulder buttons, not much.
Nubia Red Magic 3: Battery life
From our use we got around a day and a half worth of juice. Especially on standby, the Nubia manages the battery life very well. If you edge it to extreme gaming then it will still last you quite long till you actually have to visit a plug. Besides regular social media and texting, we pushed in a good hour and a half of gaming and the battery life was good enough to last us throughout the day without looking at the fast charger.
Nubia Red Magic 3: Camera
A single-camera lens on the back is such a rare sight these days. Even budget smartphones sport two lenses but Google Pixel 3a have shown us that one lens can do wonders if calibrated correctly.
The 48MP Sony sensor is probably the buzz word of 2019 and the Red Magic 3 is no exception. The image quality is sharp and full of details. It balances the exposure and contrasts amazingly. Although, without HDR the exposure tends to blow out a little, especially outdoor shots and under lowlight conditions. There’s a massive difference with HDR on and off with indoor conditions. That’s a hit and miss at times and you really need to take two shots to know gauge which one you like the most.The OnePlus 7 edges the Nubia in low light performance but when the sun’s out and about the Nubia has the upper hand in sheer sharpness and detail. It’s slightly on the saturated side but nothing that will challenge Ranveer Singh’s choices. The front camera completely blows the background and doesn’t capture the details as good as the competition.
Nubia Red Magic 3: Verdict
The Nubia Red Magic 3 is dropping for a very tempting price and its got the edge to be in your pocket as well. It’s clearly built for gaming and that’s where it performs as advertised.
If you want an all-rounder smartphone then you’re still better off with the OnePlus 7 but that doesn’t have a fan, RGB strip and shoulder buttons. How much of those three things do you love is for you to decide.