While gaming has become ever more popular in the last twelve months – let’s face it, there’s only so many languages you can give up learning – the range of devices you can do it on have continued to grow at an rapid rate. While the PS5 and Xbox Series X remain scarcer than a politician’s scruples, mobile gaming has advanced to the point where its user base would make Nintendo blush, and more and more companies want to put their device in your hands. Alongside heavy hitters like ASUS’ ROG Phone line, and Lenovo’s Legion offerings, Nubia have carved out their own little corner of the market, and with the impressively powerful RedMagic 6 Pro.
The RedMagic 6 Pro is an absolute beast, and considering its RRP of £599/$699/€699, you’re getting a lot of handset for your money. Packing in Qualcomm’s ultra-fast Snapdragon 888 processor, 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and a 165hz refresh rate 1080p AMOLED screen, you’re getting similar specs to one of the ROG Phone 5’s premier configurations, just for £200 less. If you’re serious about mobile gaming, but you don’t want to completely obliterate your bank account, Nubia could well have you covered.
Let’s talk about looks. As is mostly the way with these things, the RedMagic 6 Pro looks like the kind of device built for PUBG Mobile and not for a serious business conversation. The bank panel mixes metallic tones with a recessed central black strip housing the camera module. There are a series of sci-fi styled lines and red highlights, and you could well imagine it to be Iron Man’s handset of choice, if it wasn’t for the fact he can obviously already play PUBG Mobile in his helmet. As you’d expect from something aimed so squarely at gamers, there’s also a dose of RGB lighting with a pair of two light up strips that can double for notifications, as well as a Nubia RedMagic logo too. It’s all entirely unnecessary, yet basically essential for a gaming phone, so RGB fans can rest easy.
Nubia’s decision to opt for a high-refresh, 6.8”, FHD+ 1080p display is fairly standard for a gaming handset, and it’s capable of an incredible 165hz refresh rate. Combining that with a 400Hz sampling rate for both the touchscreen and its built-in air triggers means that the RedMagic 6 Pro is absolutely going to give players an edge in competitive mobile games. Colour reproduction is good, providing bright and vibrant images, though if you’re used to the pin-sharp detail of a higher resolution screen you may bemoan the reduction. That said, the expansive screen still makes it a great choice for indulging in video and movie content, especially when combined with the handset’s powerful speakers.
The RedMagic 6 is the loudest phone I’ve ever come across. You can feel the phone’s housing vibrate beneath your fingers when you’re playing media at volume, and that’s not even at the absolute maximum setting. The speakers are extremely clear, and though I’d probably want a little more bottom end if I was being picky, they are very good indeed for letting everyone hear what you’re listening to, or for picking up audio details when you’re gaming without reaching for a headset. You might want to be prepared for some disapproving looks from loved ones and strangers, though thanks to the included DTS Ultra X surround sound implementation you might be so deeply immersed in what you’re doing that you won’t care. All in all, this is a phone that sounds as distinctive as it looks.
The 5050mAH battery will mean that you can keep the familial disapproval up for a good while. The handset comes with an acceptable 30W charger, though it’ll work with a 65W fast charger if you really don’t have any time to wait. It’s worth remembering though that the higher you set the screen refresh rate to, the more juice it’s going to use, and that played out in our testing, draining the battery significantly faster at 165Hz than at the next step down of 120Hz. There’s sadly no wireless charging here, and only one USB-C port located at the foot of the phone which makes life difficult if you want to play and charge at the same time. That’s only amplified if you want to use the RedMagic 6 Pro Ice Cooler as well.
In addition to our review unit, Nubia also sent over the £40 RGB-toting cooling accessory. It certainly does one thing right: it cools the phone down. This chunky double fan unit needs to draw power from somewhere though, commandeering the RedMagic Pro’s USB-C slot. However, in doing so it instantly becomes tougher to hold the phone comfortably in order to actually play a game. we’ve seen other gaming-focussed mobile devices opt for a centrally positioned USB-C socket rather than one at the foot, or in some cases feature both, it feels like a key oversight for the RedMagic Pro. While that 5050mAH battery can certainly keep the phone going for a whole day in regular usage, gaming, especially high-refresh rate gaming, will still suck it dry within a few hours.
You don’t absolutely need the glowing fan attachment, as Nubia have thrown every cooling technique in the book at the RedMagic 6 Pro, with a grand total of 7 built-in cooling techniques that include a vapor chamber and internal fans and vents. They definitely work, as the phone never became uncomfortably warm at any point – even after some heavy Call of Duty Mobile multiplayer. The downside to that is the noise the in-built fans make. If set to intelligent cooling they’ll modulate their speed, which is even more distracting than the high pitched whine they make at top speed, so you might as well just turn them on when you’re about to game, and keep them off at other times. Both options will have you reaching for a headset pretty quickly, and it’s disappointing how intrusive their noise is.
It’s no surprise that with all of the technology it’s got packed inside its, the Red Magic 6 Pro isn’t the lightest phone out there. That said, at 220g it shaves a healthy 9 grams off Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra, and 18g off the ROG Phone 5, making it a mite easier to hang onto for longer gaming sessions. Its smooth metallic curves feel cool underhand, and all in all it’s an enjoyable device to pick up and use throughout the day. Be prepared for two-handed use the majority of the time though, unless you’ve got hands the size of dinner plates.
Nubia hasn’t gone too far with their customisation of Android 11, with Red Magic OS 4.0 proving to be a fairly light and unintrusive skin. The only downside I found is the gamerfication of some of the key icons, like the one for settings, which never quite gelled with me throughout my time with the phone. Still, this being an Android phone you can tinker and change things to the way you like without too much bother, so it’s far from being a dealbreaker.
Gaming integration is of course at the heart of the RedMagic 6 Pro, and there’s a dedicated physical button that lets you hop straight into the action. The Gamecenter gives you instant access to a variety of different settings such as screen refresh rate, aiming assist and a toggle for the irritating Turbofan, as well as a direct look into what your CPU and GPU are up to. From here you can also launch any of the games you’ve got stored on your device, and set yourself up to record all the action as it happens. When you’re done you can simply click back into regular phone usage. It’s a great feature that puts the phone’s core use swiftly into user’s hands.
If you’re after a gaming phone, there’s a chance that the camera is lower down on your spec sheet must-haves, but Nubia aren’t completely leaving users out in the cold with a 64MP main camera, an 8MP ultra-wide and a 2MP macro filling out the triple camera setup. They won’t remotely trouble the image quality you’re getting from an iPhone 12 Pro or a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, but the phone takes perfectly acceptable pictures. You’ll get your best results from the main shooter during the day, as it struggles to retain detail in darker settings, while the macro lens does a decent job up close. The 8MP selfie camera is again perfectly acceptable, but it doesn’t capture the level of detail that you might hope for. It’s a shame not to see the same kind of innovation that Lenovo packed into the Legion Duel that would allow you to comfortably stream while playing, but then you’re not being made to pay for it.