Nubia RedMagic 8 Pro review: Flagship power on a budget



Verdict

The RedMagic 8 Pro is a solid gaming phone with top-notch gaming performance. You get stellar hardware bundled in an attractive and sturdy chassis. The battery life is great, and the phone is able to sustain gaming performance over longer sessions. The camera performance is average, the software has a few bugs, and the software update promise is weak, but overall, this is a good phone for those that want to game on the go.

Pros

Excellent gaming performanceHigh-quality hardware and great designAffordable starting priceSolid battery life

Cons

Software has quite a few small bugsNo water or dust resistance ratingFlawed vent design allows for dust ingress

Brilliant gaming performanceThe RedMagic 8 Pro excels in what it promises — gaming. With active cooling and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 under the hood, sustained performance is great.

Great hardware and designThe phone has great hardware, ranging from high-performance internals to the gorgeous 6.8-inch 120Hz AMOLED display and a gorgeous design to round it off.

Solid battery life and chargingThe RedMagic 8 Pro comes with all-day battery life, and 65W fast charging to get you back up and running quickly.

Introduction

Gaming phones have come to become a mainstream smartphone category in recent years. Nubia sub-brand RedMagic has been along for the ride, making some pretty good gaming phones. The RedMagic 8 Pro is the latest in the lineup and packs in some impressive hardware.

The RedMagic 8 Pro is available worldwide with online stores in the UK, US and EU consumers, as well as a global store that serves other countries around the world. It starts at $649/£579 for the 12GB/256GB Matte opaque back model and $799/£709 for the 16GB/512GB model, available in Void black transparent back and Titanium white/silver transparent back finishes. I had the 16GB/512GB Titanium model in for review.

It competes with the segment leader that is the Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate, boasting top-of-the-line specs and gaming-centric software. While the RedMagic 8 Pro absolutely nails the hardware, and the software looks good on paper, this phone has a few quirks that may hinder the overall experience for some.

Design and Screen

120Hz AMOLED with 1,300 nits peak brightnessAluminium build with Gorilla Glass 5No official water and dust resistance rating

On the design front, the RedMagic 8 Pro is an absolutely stunning phone. The Titanium version I had was a sight to behold, and it does the transparent back very well. The RGB lighting is also tastefully done and doesn’t overpower the rest of the design. During my testing using this phone as my daily driver, I had several folks ask me about which phone I was using. So if you want an attention-catching device, this definitely fits the bill. 

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The functional design, however, is a different story. The flat edges of the phone are gorgeous. No doubt. However, for a gaming phone, they make very little sense ergonomically. While not super uncomfortable while gaming, I found them worse than the curved edges I’ve used on other phones.

There’s also a cooling fan that looks pretty cool and is actually functional in reducing temperatures while charging and gaming. However, it adds a massive pain point to the phone. The fan comes with intake and exhaust vents, and with no mesh over the vents, a lot of dust and other particles end up under the back glass panel of the phone, becoming nearly impossible to clean. Not only that, but it also ends up compromising the phone’s sealing. That means no IP rating (or even the unofficial confidence of having a sealed phone.)

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The screen on the RedMagic 8 Pro is excellent. You get a 6.8-inch 1116 x 2480 AMOLED screen. It has a refresh rate of 120Hz and a 960Hz touch sampling rate. You get a peak brightness figure of 1,300 nits. The display is seamless, with very tiny bezels and an under-display front camera, which means no punch-hole or notch.

The colours are great, the screen gets bright enough to be used outdoors, and the Gorilla Glass 5 protection is nice to have. The screen is only FHD+ in resolution, but that’s plenty good for a gaming phone, and the 400ppi pixel density will not leave you wanting more unless you’re very picky about your screens.

Camera

Triple-camera setupAverage camera performanceUnder-display front camera

The RedMagic 8 Pro has decent cameras on board, but as with most gaming phones, it’s clear that the cameras aren’t the focus of this phone. In fact, they’re pretty average. You get a 50MP main camera, an 8MP ultrawide, and a 2MP macro lens on the rear. On the front, you get a 16MP under-display camera.

The main 50MP camera produces decent images, but the colours aren’t always accurate, and the camera isn’t great at capturing motion. If you capture an image in a well-lit environment with uniform lighting, you get punchy colours. However, throw in a mix of mixed lighting, and you can see the colours begin to lose accuracy. The portrait mode is pretty good, though, and nailed the edge detection more often than not.

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The ultrawide camera isn’t all that great, however. It does get the framing right, but the 8MP resolution isn’t good enough for 2023, especially if you frequently take wide images. It doesn’t have autofocus, either. The Macro mode is pretty solid, though, and takes some nice closeup images, but it’s largely a gimmick used to bump up the camera count.

The selfie camera is the biggest compromise on this phone, however. Due to the under-display camera placement, you will get washed-out and slightly blurry selfies, with processing compensating. I know under-display cameras aren’t quite there yet, so RedMagic doesn’t take the blame here. I think it’s a solid trade-off to give a notch-free display, especially since the point of this phone is immersion while gaming.

Main camera sample – day

Main camera sample – low-light

Ultrawide camera sample – low-light

Main camera sample – low-light

Selfie camera sample

The low-light performance of the cameras is also average. The low-light images captured by the main camera can look quite nice sometimes, but other times they look blown out and overprocessed. The ultrawide night mode was not great, and the lower resolution showed its shortcomings. Low-light selfies were the worst result of all, with the lack of light leading to insufficient processing to correct the under-display camera output.

All-in-all, the camera performance landed on average at best. However, for a gaming-focused phone that has solid hardware otherwise, this one gets a pass.

Performance and software

RedMagic OS 6 based on Android 13Excellent gaming performanceOnly one major software update promised

The hardware on the RedMagic 8 Pro is really where it stands out, especially at the entry-level price of £579/$649. Under the hood is a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, which is the best smartphone chip you can get in an Android phone right now. You get storage options of 128, 256, or 512GB of UFS 4.0 storage and LPDDR5X RAM options of 12- or 16GB.

The RedMagic 8 Pro performs really well, too. The benchmark numbers are up there with phones that cost £100s more, and it’s no surprise, given the hardware on offer. The benchmark numbers are impressive, though it does fall shy of the astonishing power of the pricier ROG Phone 7 Ultimate.

The 3DMark Wild Life benchmark also reflected the solid performance on offer. The 20-minute stress test sustained performance returned a GPU stability figure of 92.4%. That’s a good mark that this phone can do long gaming sessions without missing a beat.

Every game I threw at this phone — Fortnite, Genshin Impact, and lighter titles like Clash of Clans, did very well. The sustained performance was also pretty solid, and I didn’t feel the phone slow down or stutter even an hour into the gameplay. RedMagic has nailed the basics of a gaming phone — the gaming. Fortnite ran at Epic quality at 60FPS, with pretty much no frame drops. 

The cooling system, despite the one aforementioned design flaw, works wonders for the performance, letting the 8 Gen 2 achieve some great levels of performance. The triggers are great, and the game mode switch, although not entirely necessary, is a nice addition. You can set the game mode to be opened via an icon in the launcher instead of the switch. However, the lack of an option to remap the switch to be a mute switch is a huge missed opportunity.

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The audio performance on this phone is also stellar. The speakers are loud and crisp and create a nice immersion when you’re gaming. The earpiece sound quality was also very good. A surprise addition is the headphone jack, which is especially great for a gaming phone like this one.

The software is this phone’s Achilles’ heel. On one hand, this phone clearly has well-tuned software that can output consistent gaming performance. On the other hand, if you look past the gaming aspect, the software falls short. My issues had to do with how far RedMagic’s OS strays from what we call stock Android.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m no Android purist. However, the apps RedMagic has bundled to replace the stock Android apps don’t work as well. The phone app, for example, would just refuse to show a lot of my contacts when searched and scrolled through. However, if I dialled the number manually, the contact name would pop up on the call screen. 

Apps as fundamental as the phone app really shouldn’t have bad bugs like these. Additionally, when I tried to replace the Phone app with Google’s Phone app, it wouldn’t always work as well. RedMagic needs to improve its own apps and make it even easier to use replacements if needed. Additionally, the auto brightness on this phone is also rather buggy at times, which is another basic feature that shouldn’t have bugs.

Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

There are several small issues, like improper translations, spelling errors in UI, and uneven customization options. If I’m not being nitpicky, however, I would say it’s a survivable software experience. I just wish it was better, and I hope RedMagic can fix these issues with future updates. 

I’m mostly willing to give the software issues a pass because of how good the phone is otherwise. However, the lack of a concrete software update promise is a bit disheartening. RedMagic has said the phone will get at least one software update and overall updates for one and a half to two years, which is an improvement over older models that got no real long-term support, but it still isn’t great.

Battery life

All-day battery life65W fast wired chargingFan cooling while charging

The RedMagic 8 Pro delivers on battery life as well. You get a massive 6,000 mAh battery, which can easily last you all day. In my testing, I rarely found myself reaching for the charger except for the usual end-of-the-day routine. Often that would be while the phone still had about 15-20% charge left.

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During my testing, I used the RedMagic 8 Pro as my daily driver. My workload usually includes a lot of texting and social media, including a lot of Telegram, Twitter, and Instagram, web browsing using Google Chrome, email using Gmail, and some phone calls every now and then. I threw in a fair bit of gaming every now and then since this is a gaming phone first, and the phone held up well. The battery benchmarks are as good as you would expect.

The RedMagic 8 Pro also comes with a fast charger in the box. The 65W wired charging isn’t the fastest on the market, but it’s a good balance. It charged the phone quickly enough, with the fan kicking in automatically to reduce the heat. The battery life and charging on this phone didn’t leave any room for complaints.

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Should you buy it?

You want excellent gaming performance:

The RedMagic 8 Pro will play any mobile game you throw at it, and does really well at long gaming sessions.

You need a great software experience:

The RedMagic 8 Pro doesn’t have great software and limited software update support, making it less appealing to non-gamers.

Final Thoughts

The RedMagic 8 Pro is a brilliant piece of hardware enclosed in one of the best smartphone chassis’ I’ve ever seen. It delivers on its promise of gaming and keeps up the performance during long gaming sessions.

It’s a gaming-first phone and comes with plenty of features with that goal in mind. However, the software has a bunch of small bugs. RedMagic also hasn’t given a concrete software upgrade promise. This phone may be officially supported for two years at the most. 

However, the performance and battery life of this phone are excellent, and it comes at a very attractive price. At £579/$649 for the 12GB/256GB Matte version, this phone is a good value purchase. The £709/$799 price for the 16GB/512GB versions seems a bit too much to spend on this phone, especially because of the limited update promise for a phone that already has a few software issues.

If gaming performance is your only priority and you don’t want to spend too much money, the RedMagic 8 Pro is a great phone. 

How we test

We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Used as our main handset during test period

Camera tested in variety of situations with all modes

Tested with synthetic benchmarks and real world use

FAQs

Is the RedMagic 8 Pro water-resistant? No, the vents prevent the phone from offering any kind of dust or water resistance – even unofficially. Does the RedMagic 8 Pro ship with a charger? Yes, you’ll get a 65W fast charger in the box.

Trusted Reviews test data

Geekbench 6 single core

Geekbench 6 multi core

Max brightness

1 hour video playback (Netflix, HDR)

30 minute gaming (light)

Time from 0-100% charge

Time from 0-50% charge

30-min recharge (included charger)

15-min recharge (included charger)

3D Mark – Wild Life

GFXBench – Aztec Ruins

GFXBench – Car Chase

Nubia RedMagic 8 Pro

1336

4783

1300 nits

6 %

6 %

42 min

16 Min

80 %

48 %

3663

79 fps

97 fps

UK RRP

USA RRP

Manufacturer

Screen Size

Storage Capacity

Rear Camera

Front Camera

Video Recording

IP rating

Battery

Fast Charging

Size (Dimensions)

Weight

ASIN

Operating System

Release Date

First Reviewed Date

Resolution

HDR

Refresh Rate

Ports

Chipset

RAM

Colours

Nubia RedMagic 8 Pro

£579

$649

Nubia

6.8 inches

128GB, 256GB, 512GB

50MP + 8MP + 2MP

16MP

Yes

No

6000 mAh

Yes

76.4 x 8.9 x 164 MM

228 G

B0BRKJQHWK

Android 13 (RedMagic OS 6)

2022

23/06/2023

1116 x 2480

Yes

120 Hz

USB-C

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

12GB, 16GB, 8GB

Black, Transparent

Jargon buster

mAh
An abbreviation for milliampere-hour and a way to express the capacity of batteries, especially smaller ones in phones. In most cases the higher the mAh, the longer the battery will last but this isn’t always the case.

IP rating
An abbreviation for ‘Ingress Protection Code’, which lets you know to what extent a device might be waterproof or dustproof.



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