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Nubia Red Magic 3 Review: A gaming phone with a few magic tricks at its sleeves

nubia red magic 3 review
Lava International

Who would have thought in the past decade that mobile gaming would be where it is now. It has seen an exponential surge in popularity within the last couple of years, with the release of various FPS, MOBA titles with graphics on par to that of their PC/Console counterparts. To capitalize on the ever-growing market, many manufacturers jumped in headfirst and launched their own gaming phones like the Razer Phone, Xiaomi Black Shark and Asus ROG Phone.

And the list keeps on growing! Nubia also recently launched its new gaming phone – the Red Magic 3, which I have with me right now.

But, before going forward with its review, I’d like to say that this can also be taken as the newer Red Magic 3S review since the latter has a slightly more powerful Snapdragon 855+ chipset and comes in some new gradient colors while sharing the same specification as the Magic 3. So, without further ado, let’s get started with Nubia Red Magic 3 review.

Nubia Red Magic 3 Specifications:

  • Display: 6.65-inch AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate, 430 nits brightness
  • Resolution: Full-HD+ (2340 × 1080 pixels), 19.5:9 aspect ratio
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 855; 7nm Mobile Platform
  • CPU: Octa-Core (1 x 2.84GHz Kryo 485 + 3 x 2.42GHz Kryo 485 + 4x 1.80GHz Kryo 485)
  • GPU: Adreno 640
  • RAM: 6GB / 8GB / 12GB LPDDR4x RAM
  • Storage: 64GB / 128GB / 256GB (UFS 3.0) storage
  • Software & UI: Android 9.0 (Pie) with Redmagic OS 2.0
  • Rear Camera: 48MP 1/2.0″ Sony IMX586 sensor, 0.8μm pixel size, f/1.75 aperture, Dual LED flash
  • Front Camera: 16MP, f/2.0 aperture
  • Fingerprint sensor: Yes, Rear mounted
  • Audio: 3.5mm audio jack, Stereo front-facing speakers, DTS:X
  • Connectivity: Dual-SIM (Dual 4G VoLTE), WiFi 802.11ac dual-band (2×2 MU-MIMO ), Bluetooth 5, GPS/GLONASS/Beidou, USB Type-C
  • Battery: 5000mAh battery with 27W fast charging
  • Nubia Red Magic 3 Price in Nepal: Rs. 59,999

Design and Build

The Red Magic 3 is a gaming phone which is vividly reflected in its design. It has a robust full metal body which is IP55 resistant too. It is not as secure as the IP68, but it should protect the phone with minor dust and water sprays.

nubia red magic 3 design

There’s a single 48MP camera on the back which we’ll get into later in the review. Under the camera, you’ll find a stylish grill which is the air-vent for the phone’s internal cooling fan.

This makes Red Magic 3 the first phone in the industry to feature an in-built cooling fan. And a fan without a good inflow of air is useless by itself.

nubia red magic 3 exhaust fan

For this, Nubia has cleverly implemented a grill on the side of the device just above the volume rockers. I didn’t find my fingers covering up the grill during my gaming sessions but I can’t say the same for people with larger hands.

Other notable gaming features of the phone include two Shoulder Buttons or Touch Capacitors which are very well positioned on the side. However, you might find some difficulty operating these capacitors while playing games with 3.5mm headphones plugged in. Additionally, the fingerprint sensor itself can be configured to function as a game touch button, allowing the Red Magic 3 to have 5 finger control in total.

nubia red magic 3 shoulder button

Not something of a deal-breaker, but we had to mention it nevertheless. However, there’s a clever solution for it with Nubia’s proprietary modules which can be attached on the back of the phone.

Similarly, there’s a dedicated slider on the top-left portion of the phone which triggers Game Space. What it does, is basically shield you from notifications, calls, messages and other annoying alerts while you’re gaming.

nubia red magic gamespace switch

The POGO pins down the slider facilitate the use of the aforementioned module, dubbed the Docking Station. Another accessory for the Red Magic 3 is Nubia’s Bluetooth Gamepad, which can be installed after slapping in a case on the phone.

nubia red magic 3 pogo pins

Furthermore, the attractive RGB LED strip on the back completes the gaming aesthetic of the phone, which is customizable too. Also, there’s a handy option on the settings to toggle it on or off.

For me, I usually kept it turned off since you can’t personally see the LED strip on effect and only takes a toll on the phone’s battery.

nubia red magic 3 led strip

You get a Type-C charging port on the bottom alongside the single speaker, which when combined with the earpiece on the front makes the Red Magic 3 a stereo speakerphone. For a mid-range phone, the speaker quality is surprisingly good.

nubia red magic 3 charging port

Talking about security, there’s a physical fingerprint scanner on the back on a unique hexagonal shape. It is not the best-placed fingerprint sensor, neither is it the fastest. For a faster unlock, you can use the face unlock which doesn’t use 3D mapping, so it may not be the most reliable of the options.

nubia red magic 3 fingerprint scanner

And Unlike the flagships of the present, the Red Magic 3 doesn’t have an in-display fingerprint sensor.

While on the topic of design, it’s important to note that the Red Magic 3 is a tall phone so it may be very difficult for many people including myself to use single-handedly. Also, the design on the back makes the phone wobble when placed on a flat surface.

Display

On the front, you get a tall 6.65-inch AMOLED display with Full-HD resolution and yes, a 90Hz refresh rate. With this, you get a smooth viewing experience unlike the phones with the regular 60Hz refresh rate.

You’ve probably heard this from other reviewers but I’d say it as well. The difference a 90Hz display is astounding and you should experience it personally to know how much.

nubia red magic 3 display

I liked the display’s colors and contrast as well, though it doesn’t max out on brightness to my liking. While there was no problem using the phone indoors, I did face some inconvenience using it outdoors.

The Red Magic 3 has a notch-less display with slim bezels on top and bottom. The top one holds the selfie camera. A bezel-less display on a gaming phone wouldn’t have been the best design implementation since that would make the phone prone to accidental touches while gaming. So, I have to applaud Nubia’s design choice with the Red Magic 3.

Performance

Now, a gaming phone needs to perform well for which it needs the most powerful processors. And the Red Magic 3 have this part covered with the Snapdragon 855 chipset while the Red Magic 3S has a slightly more powerful Snapdragon 855+ chipset.

So, needless to say, I didn’t experience any hiccups in performance. Everything ran as smooth as smooth can get.

nubia red magic 3 pubg

With a top-class processor, smoother 90Hz display, and an internal cooling fan, the Red Magic 3 is the ultimate mobile gaming machine. I played PUBG Mobile, Asphalt 9, and Mobile Legends Bang Band in the highest of the settings and faced no stutters of sorts. There was a minimal drop in frame-rates here and there but that’s not something to scratch your head over.

Similarly, the phone performed well in the thermal department as well. I witnessed no heating issue with the Red Magic 3, thanks to the internal fan which can be toggled on/off from the Game Space.

On a related note, Game Space offers control over lots of other gaming features on the phone aside from the internal fan. Its UI is pretty rad than a regular Android UI. Gaming aesthetics is embroidered throughout the UI where we can see all the games installed on our phone.

Meddling with the gaming controls like toggling CPU/GPU performance, fan controller, message, phone call, blocking notifications, configuring touch capacitors, etc. can be initiated by a simple swipe on the right of the phone.

nubia red magic 3 performance

All these features make you wonder if it’ll outperform a full-on gaming PC. But no, just no! That’s just an outlandish thought. Moving on, as I mentioned earlier, I have the 8/128GB model which is the only one available in Nepal.

However, there’s also 6/64 GB and 12/256GB variants available on other parts of the world. The latest in storage technology: UFS 3.0 finds a home in the Red Magic 3 as well.  So Installing big apps/games is no sweat for this beast.

Software

It runs on the older Android 9.0 (Pie) with Nubia’s Redmagic 2.0 on top, which is very similar to stock Android with clean UI and a few translation errors here and there. Unlike other manufacturers, there are very few bloatware applications, so that’s great too!

Battery

The big 5000 mAh battery will also easily last you two days on normal usage. It supports 18W Quick Charge 4+ which isn’t that fast compared to Samsung’s 45W or OPPO’s 65W charging. Nevertheless, I got it to charge up to 60% from 0% within 30 minutes, which is commendable.

Camera

Let’s talk about Red Magic 3’s camera now. We’ve seen many gaming phones which excel at being a gaming device exclusively but skimp on camera performance. For now, Nubia has also honored this unfortunate trend.

There’s a single 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor on the back which can be found in other phones like the OnePlus 7 Pro and Redmi K20 Pro.

nubia red magic 3 camera

And I had hoped that Nubia would come up with a better camera configuration on the refreshed Red Magic 3S, but I was let down once again. As opposed to this, the new Asus ROG Phone II boasts a dual-rear camera setup with an additional ultrawide lens.

But since it only has a single lens, it falls behind many photography metrics like ultrawide angle, portrait, telephoto, macro shots, to name a few.

Though the photos are decently detailed, the edges of the object focused aren’t that sharp and dynamic range is average. Similarly, I found that the color reproduction is slightly enhanced and unevenly distributed. We could’ve had it all, but Nubia made a trade-off on the camera department and polished the gaming features more.

nubia red magic 3 front camera

Like the weak rear-camera, the single 16MP front camera is also average. The details are good and colors seem natural, but it lacks HDR so dynamic range takes a hit. There’s this “Pretty Mode” as the name implies lets you take selfies while making your face free of any acne marks, blemishes, and whatnots.

On the videography end, isn’t something that’ll knock your socks off either. No OIS or EIS means videos from the Red Magic 3 are below average to put it nicely. You can, however, take HDR and 4K @60fps videos.

I was surprised to know that the phone can shoot 8K videos at 15fps, making it next to useless for me at least. Nubia will take the praise for introducing 8K video shooting capability on a phone nonetheless.

Verdict

Now keeping all these factors into consideration, would I recommend the Red Magic 3? Definitely, although only for a specific set of consumers. For most of the average consumers, the Realme X2 Pro or the Oneplus 7T would be a good investment as they have better cameras, provide regular updates, and has a cleaner design.

So, like every gaming phone out there, this too is a super niche product intended to someone who games a lot and photography isn’t their “thing”.

Nubia Red Magic 3 Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Great gaming performance
  • An appealing design for the gamers
  • enduring battery life
  • Immersive display with 90Hz refresh rate

Cons:

  • Wobbly back panel
  • Not many options on the camera front
  • Design may not be everyone’s cup of tea
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design and Build
8
Display
8.5
Performance
9
Software
9
Rear Camera
6
Front Camera
7
Battery
9
Value for money
8
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