Nubia Red Magic 3 review: A mobile gamer’s delight
The phone has no competition to worry about in terms of the features it offers at the asking price.
Specifications: 6.65-inch amoled display (2340 x 1080 pixels) with 90Hz refresh rate, Snapdragon 855 processor, 8/12GB RAM, 128/256GB storage, dual SIM slot, 48MP f1.7 rear camera, 16MP f2.0 front camera, dual band WiFi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, rear fingerprint scanner, USB Type-C, 7-pin accessory connector, Android 9.0, 5,000mAh battery, 215 grams
Pros: Gorgeous 90Hz amoled display, stylish RGB light panel, built-in fan for rapid cooling, haptic buttons for gaming, top-end hardware and performance, fantastic battery life with fast charge support, good camera performance, stock Android with dedicated gaming zone, first phone with 8k video recording, air cooling + liquid cooling
Cons: Non expandable storage, no option to control refresh rate outside the game space, no wireless charging or waterproofing
When we reviewed the Nubia Red Magic gaming phone last year, we loved the unique performance and design. Nubia went on to launch Red Magic Mars but never got it to India. The company has now launched the Red Magic 3: their latest gaming phone that has an actual cooling fan inside — a first for a smartphone!
In terms of design, this definitely feels and looks like a gaming phone. Nubia has included an RGB light strip on the rear which adds some cool gaming bling to the phone. The all-metal body has red accents plus interesting shapes around the camera module and fingerprint scanner. If that was not enough, there is a glowing Red Magic logo too. A pair of ultrasonic triggers on the side can be custom configured in games for an added advantage.
On the right side are the buttons along with the very visible air vent — this is the exhaust where the hot air is thrown out by the built-in fan. The fan starts automatically when you enable gaming mode and you can control fan speed via software settings. Put your ear to the vent and you can hear it running too. This is not a gimmick — it is actually working to actively extract heat from the hottest components inside. This will also have an impact on performance because we know that cooler components will perform at peak capacity for longer. Along with air cooling, the Red Magic 3 also has liquid cooling. The 7-pin accessory connector on the side can be used for external controllers and other accessories.
We also liked that Nubia still offers a 3.5mm audio jack. However, this is a big phone with a 6.65-inch screen and metal body. And it weighs a hefty 215 grams. It is impressive that Nubia managed to make the device so well balanced in terms of weight distribution, but this is not something you will be able to use with one hand comfortably.
The Red Magic 3 is powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor and comes with 8/12GB RAM options with 128 or 256GB of non expandable storage. These are top-end specifications for a smartphone. As expected, everything from intensive games to 4k videos run smoothly on the device without any visible lags or sluggishness.
One of the big advantages the Red Magic 3 has is the large 5,000mAh battery — still a rarity in flagship devices. Thanks to this massive battery, we regularly got a full day of battery life with around 3 hours of gaming per day. If you use the phone normally without any gaming, you should get two days of battery life. There is also fast charge support and Nubia includes a fast charger in the box.
Since this is a gaming smartphone, we used it with various popular games like PUBG, Call of Duty Mobile and Asphalt Legends on the phone. Everything ran butter-smooth on the highest graphics setting with zero frame drops. A dedicated hardware key on the side enables Game Space, Nubia’s dedicated consolestyle interface to launch games, tweak performance settings and block notifications while gaming. We liked the implementation of Game Space as it helped get the best possible performance from the device. Thanks to the combination of liquid cooling plus air cooling, the phone never became too hot to touch. Even after two hours of continuous gaming, it was only slightly warm. Also in its favour is the stock Android OS with zero preloaded bloatware.
The display plays an integral role when gaming and having a screen with a fast refresh rate can aid you during gameplay. Nubia clearly understands this and that is why the Red Magic 3 has a 6.65-inch full HD display with 90hz refresh rate. It’s only the second phone in India (after OnePlus 7 Pro) to get this high refresh rate display. The excellent blacks and vibrant colour offers an immersive gaming experience on the phone. The only thing we found odd was that the option to change the refresh rate is only available in Game Space and not in the general phone settings. Also, while the screen has slim bezels on the side, the top has a fatter bezel and there is a substantial chin. This adds to the overall size of the phone making it bulky to handle.
Even though Nubia chose to skip the dual/triple camera trend for their gaming phone, it is good to see that they offer the new 48MP IMX 586 camera on the Red Magic 3. This is a half inch sensor with pixel binning. The 48MP camera is a capable shooter on its own and we managed to get some great photos with it during both day and night. We did notice that it tends to apply beauty effect in auto mode by default when shooting portraits.
Also, there is no dedicated portrait mode on the phone which is a slight letdown. By default, the camera shoots at 12MP resolution but you can switch to 48MP from settings if required. Up front is a 16MP camera with f2.0 aperture which again impresses with quality and sharpness. However, no portrait mode here either. One of the things that stood out on the Red Magic 3’s rear camera is that it supports recording of videos in 8k resolution. While it shoots at 20-24fps (it’s still in beta) at this resolution, it is good to see the option of 8k video recording arrive in smartphone cameras.
Some of the other features that we liked on the Red Magic 3 include the loud stereo speakers and fast fingerprint scanner. The one feature we wished it had was wireless charging support. In the battle of gaming phones, the Red Magic 3 is an instant favorite of ours and has no competition to worry about in terms of the features it offers at the asking price.