Nubia Red Magic 3 128GB Review: Miss the mark

Mobile gaming has become a phenomenon in India. Riding on games like PUBG Mobile, Indian consumers are demanding smartphones that can handle heavy games. But, does it clear the ground for dedicated gaming phones? The key is the new Nubia Red Magic 3. It shows every bit device that reveals the gaming mojo and is packed with sophisticated hardware to maximize its gaming capabilities. There are many features that help improve the gaming experience. But it is unlikely that you will buy a smartphone just for gaming. It also has to do other necessary things like taking photos, making calls and browsing the web So, how does Red Magic 3 rent in these aspects? Find out.

Nubia Red Magic 3 vs Competition:

The Nubia Red Magic 3 has pitted itself against the Black Shark 2 and OnePlus 7 Pro, both of which come with soup-up gaming capabilities. The feature set is right there with the other two and in some cases, surpasses the Black Shark 2 and OnePlus 7 Pro. However, the performance of the phone is not as good as that of the Black Shark 2 and OnePlus 7 Pro, especially when it comes to gaming. When calculated, Red Magic 3 is unable to match the frame rates provided by Black Shark 2 and OnePlus 7 Pro in games like Shadow Legends, NFS No Limits, and Infinity Ops.

Performance

Red Magic 3 was considered the world’s fastest smartphone based on its AnTuTu score. The unit we got for review has Snapdragon 855 under the hood with 8GB LPDDR4X RAM and 128GB UFS 2.1 storage. Inside the phone is literally a fan, placed on top of the SoC so that the heat can be removed and vented through a vent on the right side. The fan can kick automatically when needed, or you can choose to keep it on all the time. It makes a rolling noise when rotated, but you won’t hear it unless you press your ears against the vent. There is also a 12GB RAM variant with 256GB storage which is more expensive. For example, the 8GB RAM variant of Red Magic 3 is the most affordable flagship gaming phone you can buy right now. Where does it stand compared to other flagships? This score

The score is consistent with Nubia’s claim. The AnTuTu and Geekbench scores are actually the highest we’ve ever had on an Android phone, but the 3DMark Slingshot scores have been beaten by most of its competitors. It should be noted that we run benchmarks in a regular setting, not in game boost mode, which can lead to higher scores. Still, the scores are quite impressive, but the real question is, how does it all translate into real-world use?

Gaming

Red Magic 3 has been created for an extended period of gaming. And so we did just that! We played PUBG Mobile, Asphalt 9 and a few more games and clocked performance on the gamebench. Here are the statistics-

Measured with GameBench, the data shows that despite the higher hardware demands, Red Magic 3 is by no means able to achieve the highest frame rate in all games. In some games like Infinity Ops and NFS No Limits, the frame rate stability is as low as 74 and 58 percent, respectively, indicating that although it is capable of hitting 46 FPS in both cases, it cannot maintain it for long. Remember, we clocked 60 FPS in both of these games using Black Shark 2. Performance is best when playing PUBG mobile. This phone is clearly cut to maximize the power of the game with an impressive 96 percent stability registered 60 FPS.

Interestingly, there seems to be no significant difference when the CPU and GPU clocks are at their maximum and the fan is turned on. We played PUBG Mobile in both Auto Mode and Super Turbo mode and in both cases, we clocked 60 FPS with the same frame rate stability.

One of the advantages of gaming is the pressure-sensitive trigger on the shoulder of the phone. It takes a while to get used to it, but you can basically get a grip of four fingers while playing. This of course makes it easy to play FPS games where one can be used for trigger shooting and the other for opening opportunities.

Software

Red Magic 3 runs on stock Android 9 pie with Red Magic theme on top. Honestly, I didn’t like the icon designs so much. They feel clumsy and old-fashioned. But stock Android 9 is clear when you pull the app drawer or bring down the notification shade. The UI takes full advantage of smooth, fast and 90Hz displays. There is also a dedicated switch on the side. Slide it and you enter game mode where you can find all your installed games and some more settings options including a game pad and a dock attached and performance tweaking screen. Although we are not sure how regularly the phone will be updated. It has an old security patch installed and Nubia has not finally promised to update to Android Q.

The camera

While most people buying Red Magic 3 will initially focus on gaming, the single 48MP camera on the back of this gaming phone is not bad at all. In fact, it surprised us lightly. The camera hardware has a f / 1.7 lens with 48MP sensor (vendor unknown) without any stabilization. The focus is far from offering a versatile and flexible camera. No hardware-based portrait mode, no wide-angle lens or telephoto zoom lens. Instead, there is a software-based portrait mode and the single camera does one thing and it does quite well.

Unlike most phones, the Red Magic 3 shoots at 48MP just outside the box. In fact, you need to switch around the image resolution to switch to 12MP, which is again achieved using 4-in-1 pixel binning. 48MP mode produces really sharp images although the dynamic range takes a hit. Almost all of the pictures I took with the phone were sharp, preserved with details even when you zoom in. The colors also look really aesthetic but it won’t take long to realize that Nubia is just perfecting the colors and adding more contrast it looks better on a smaller display. The greens are much greener, the buildings look more dramatic and the extra processing is obvious if you look closer. In this way the details are largely preserved.

Lack of stability otherwise affects the good camera experience. The viewfinder’s feed vibrates with a little hand movement, but I miss OIS the most when shooting at night. In low light, with the lack of a dedicated night mode, the images are not usable enough. Despite shooting in bend mode, they are very poorly exposed and the noise is low.

There are also a few more modes that are quite fun to play with. We’ve seen these features on older Nubia phones too, and features like multi-exposure let you play with these options.

The 16MP front camera is also decent, though beauty filters add an extra dimension to skin smoothing. Selfies are bright and details start to show if you slide the slider to the left.

Display and battery

The Red Magic 3’s display is another reason to call it a gaming phone. The AMOLED display is a huge 6.65-inch wide and it is HDR + rated. It also has a 90Hz refresh rate, similar to the OnePlus 7 Pro, but at a much lower cost. That being said, the display quality is nowhere near that of the OnePlus 7 Pro. It has full HD resolution for one and the colors don’t just pop out of the display, as it does in the OnePlus 7 Pro. It is more muted and less lively, at least when compared to the naked eye. The display also has a 240Hz touch response, which makes it one of the most sensitive panels used in a phone. When playing games like PUBG Mobile and Infinity Ops, it acts as an advantage in quick response time. But it did lead to a lot of accidental touches that didn’t call for a gunfight in the middle of the game. This would be great if Nubia lets us control the touch sensitivity of the phone. The phone also has a haptic engine that works in games to give you vibration response for gunfights, explosions and more.

The Nubia Red Magic 3 also packs a huge 5,000mAh battery inside with 18W fast charging support. At launch, Nubia claimed that you can play PUBG mobile directly for seven hours on a single charge. Nubia was not joking. I actually played for an hour and the battery drop was about 5 percent. But there is a caveat. Battery life is impressive if you keep CPU and GPU performance in auto mode. When maxed out and the fan is turned on inside, the battery drain is actually faster and the battery life is the same as a phone with a 4,000mAh battery. It can still easily last a day, even with heavy gaming for a few hours at a time. Other functions like navigation and watching Netflix also do not discharge more than 10 percent of the phone after one hour. The bundled 18W charger tops up the phone in about 1.5 hours but you can also plug in a 30W charger and it will charge in half the time required.

Design

Red Magic 3 is hard to use if you’re not gaming, just because of the huge display. It is impossible to use with one hand and considering the huge battery and a fan module inside it is quite heavy. But I think huge and large form-factors would be welcomed by gamers if gaming laptops were taken as a yardstick to measure. Although the rear panel is well designed. An RGB light strip runs down the center and the upper corners are ear-marked with reflective red artwork. The speaker grille is located in the center of the bang just below the Superman-logo shaped camera module. On the side is a pogo-pin connector where the dock goes to provide an Ethernet connection and an additional headphone jack. From the outside, it’s a gaming phone.

The last row

The Nubia Red Magic 3 packs a lot of features for a gaming phone and is the most affordable Snapdragon 855-powered gaming unit on the market right now. Everything from high refresh-rate displays to the ability to change CPU and GPU speeds and a literal fan and RGB light inside the body, that’s what we expect from gaming smartphones these days. But it would have been better if the performance matched the feature list. Unfortunately, the phone cannot be optimized for sustainable high-performance use while gaming, which is indicated by the frame rate of most games. There is work to be done and Nubia can finish the job with a software update.

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