Over the past couple of years, a variety of gaming-dedicated smartphones have entered the market, coming from high-profile and lesser-known companies alike. nubia’s Red Magic brand has released three gaming smartphones of its own, but the Red Magic 3 is different from everything else out there.
What makes this phone really stand out is the fact that it comes with a built-in cooling fan. Whether we’re talking about gaming phones or not, fans are not something you expect to find in a smartphone. Sure, the ASUS ROG Phone could be cooled with a fan provided you bought the separate accessory, but no device has ever had it built-in. The Red Magic 3 is also one of the few gaming phones that has a Snapdragon 855 chipset, so it’s truly a captivating device.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
171.7×78.5×9.65mm (6.76×3.09×0.38in), 215g (7.58oz)
6.65 inches, 1080×2340, 19.5:9, 387.5ppi, AMOLED
48MP with Quad Bayer technology, Front – 16MP
8K – 30fps, 4K – 60fps, Front – 1080p – 30fps
f/1.79, Front – f/2.0
5,000mAh, 18W fast charging
It’s worth pointing out that I got the base model in black, though it’s also available in red. There’s also a camo version that bumps up the RAM to 12GB and the internal storage to 256GB for $599.
When you look at it, the Red Magic 3 certainly exudes a gamer vibe, with vivid red accents in many parts of the body, and an angular look to most of the elements of the back, including the fingerprint sensor. The edges of the phone itself are rounded though, so holding it in your hand isn’t uncomfortable in that regard. On the back, there’s also an RGB lighting strip that can be customized through nubia’s software.
The phone has a lot of elements you’d expect to find, and some that you probably wouldn’t. On the right side, you have the power button and volume rocker, as all as a vent from which hot air is expelled when the fan is turned on. The vent forced nubia to move the buttons down, and while the placement isn’t terrible, it feels just a little bit off from where I would expect it to be. On this side, you also find two touch-sensitive areas which serve as triggers for playing games in landscape mode.
On the left side are a couple more interesting things. At the top, a red toggle (which is black, if you have the red model) puts you into a sort of gaming mode and opens Game Space. This app lets you quickly access the games on your phone and adjust a variety of settings related to gaming. Below the toggle is a set of pin connectors meant to be used with the Magic Adapter, which adds Ethernet and charging ports, plus a 3.5mm audio jack.
That’s not to say the phone doesn’t have its own headphone jack, but its placement on the top edge of the phone makes it inconvenient if you’re playing in landscape mode. That’s all you can find on that side, and at the bottom, there’s the USB Type-C port for charging.
In regards to the design, I maintain some of my criticism from my initial hands-on experience. With a 6.65-inch display, this thing is hard to hold. A lot of the body of the phone is often out of my hands, and that’s resulted in a few hits against objects I’d otherwise avoid. It also makes me feel like the phone could fall off at any time.
What really frustrates about this phone is the lack of NFC, and to get this out of the way right now, if there’s any reason for me to not use this phone in the long term, it’s this. I’ve gotten so used to NFC payments at stores that being forced to pull out my wallet to use my card is truly annoying. This is probably not a concern for most people, though.
Display and sound
At the front of the device sits the massive 6.65-inch AMOLED screen, flanked by a pair of stereo speakers at the top and bottom. For a phone that has a big focus on media and gaming, the choice of a Full HD+ display may be questionable for some people, but to be honest, I’m fine with it. The default UI scaling is a little bigger than I’d like, but it can be adjusted.
At this size, the large screen makes for a very immersive experience, be it for gaming or media viewing, and I loved using it for that. I do think that the corners of the screen are too round, though, to the point where content might actually be cut from the frame.
This is an AMOLED screen, which means it can get you true blacks and more vivid colors since each pixel can be turned on or off individually, rather than having a backlight for the whole screen even when only some pixels are being used. It also has a 90Hz refresh rate, and though I don’t even a very keen eye for this, everything does appear to flow very smoothly on this screen, more so than any other I’ve tested.
Nonetheless, there were some things I didn’t think were great. For example, the night light feature on Android doesn’t seem to be capable of being as intense as…