Nubia makes a statement with the Red Magic 5G. In 2019, Red Magic released the Red Magic 3, a brilliant gaming device that was only average for everyday use. Today, Nubia has released a phone with specs that will make you look twice.

The Red Magic 5G has 5G connectivity (of course), a Snapdragon 865 chipset, and an Adreno 650 graphics processor (the same combination as in the Samsung Galaxy S20), and it’s the first smartphone in the world with a 144Hz refresh rate display. You get all that for a bit over $600 / £550: if you combine those two factors, you get a fairly affordable flagship phone.

Gamer-friendly features are built into every aspect of the Red Magic 5G. This handset has impressive specs, including an internal fan with vents on either side of the display, liquid cooling, shoulder buttons for easy game control, loud dual stereo speakers, and RGB backlighting.

When all is said and done, the Red Magic 5G is likely to be among the best gaming phones on the market. But does it really work? Moreover, what about when you aren’t gaming? Now let’s dive in.

Design

Nubia Red Magic 5G review

This phone is chunky. As a result of the large, bright AMOLED display and the deep interior, it is much heavier than most smartphones. Comparatively, the bigger-screened Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus weighs 186g.

Despite this, the Red Magic 5G is not too heavy. Its main purpose is to play games, so you’ll want the phone to feel substantial in your hand when you flip it on its side.

On the right side of the phone are two shoulder buttons, a power button, a volume rocker, and one of the fan vents. You’ll also see a port for a docking station on the left edge, and Nubia’s dedicated game launcher, Game Space, is a toggle switch on the left edge.

One of the phone’s speakers is on the bottom. The SIM tray is on the side, and the charging port is near the top. In the top right corner of the screen sits a second speaker.

On the back, you’ll find a triple camera setup, including a 64MP main camera, an 8MP wide-angle camera, and a 2MP macro camera, all arranged vertically. Additionally, the RGB lighting strip can be customized and a Red Magic icon is provided.

It is possible to have the strip only light up while gaming, although you can also have it indicate when the phone is charging or when notifications are received. It features bright lights you can customize (or turn off) to your liking.

Despite the red color, the Red Magic 5G doesn’t look sleek. There’s nothing subtle about this phone; it leans into the flashy, gamer aesthetic, and it will definitely draw attention when you pull it from your pocket.

In spite of its subtlety, the Eclipse Black model is loud compared to other smartphones. Its red lines and a giant X mark on its back give it a distinctive appearance. As we said, the design isn’t for those who want an understated device, but those who want a conversation starter won’t be disappointed.

Display

Nubia Red Magic 5G review

This is the first smartphone ever to feature a 144Hz refresh rate. In the past, 120Hz was the top speed, seen on phones such as the OnePlus 8 Pro and Razer Phone 2.

Having a higher refresh rate should result in a smoother image, as the screen will update more often. This allows you to scroll across the UI with zero wrinkles, and play games with smooth performance (which we’ll discuss later).

When browsing the internet, watching videos, or navigating menus, it feels as zippy as any phone we’ve used before.

This device has a vivid AMOLED display with a 6.65-inch screen. ‘Colorful’ mode is one of three options you can select from (the two others are the DCI-P3 mode and sRGB mode). Dark colors are dark well enough as well as colors pop. We used it most often with Android’s dark mode.

The screen isn’t very detailed, however. Expect less than Samsung’s level of resolution: it has a Full HD+ display with a resolution of 1080 x 2340. That’s 387.5 pixels per inch, which is less than the OnePlus 7T, but we saw no difference in the clarity of information.

Camera

Despite being one of the least efficient triple-camera setups we’ve seen, this one consistently produces good images. This smartphone has a 64MP Sony IMX686, the same sensor found in the mid-range Poco X2. It is paired with an 8MP ultra-wide sensor that boasts a 120-degree field of view and a 2MP macro sensor.

Their images are clear, with colors true to reality, and have a wide dynamic range. As the light level changes, the camera adjusts quickly and focuses instantly. Our favorites were the portrait mode, which captured plenty of detail while blurring the background gently, and the night mode, which produced photos with plenty of colors after the sun had set.

This camera produces great video too, especially in 4K and 60fps (it can also shoot in 1080p at 30 and 60fps, as well as 720p at 30). Filming was smooth and detailed, and the sensors quickly adjusted to the light, so you can comfortably move between different light levels in one long video.

With an 8MP front camera that’s okay for selfies, but not much else, and no face unlock, the phone is just so-so. This device produces video at a resolution of 1080p at 30fps, so it can be used to vlog or record short messages to your friends.

Despite this, the camera software was too busy to be enjoyable. The ‘camera family’ shooting mode gives you too many choices, many of which are gimmicks. However, the pro mode lets you set ISO, focus, and more, while you can alter shutter speed and more.

A built-in artificial intelligence in the Red Magic 5 guesses what you are trying to capture and adjusts the settings accordingly. It worked in most cases, but occasionally it was completely off (it assumed a chair to be an animal, for instance), and at other times it led to oversaturated photos, turning a picture of salmon into a luminous mess.

However, I would say that this camera is a respectable option for this price that can be used in a variety of situations, whether you’re shooting stills or video.

Pros Cons
Shoulder triggers are handy The screen isn’t the most high-res
144Hz display is ideal for gaming OS lacks customization options
Impressive battery life Software bugs
Durable

Conclusion

There’s no denying that there is good value in the Red Magic 5G. Despite its mid-range price, you get the high-end processing power and a 144Hz screen to boot.

This combination allows your phone to run smoothly both inside and outside games, so you can play marathons without worrying about overheating.

This gaming launcher gives you the edge over your friends with Nubia’s custom shoulder buttons. Additionally, you’ll have a solid camera, long battery life, and loudspeakers.