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RedMagic 8 Pro Gaming Phone: Gaming Or Gimmick?

Feature image for our RedMagic 8 Pro review. It shows several views of the RedMagic 8 Pro gaming phone.

The RedMagic 8 Pro gaming phone is the latest and most powerful in Nubia’s line of high-end phones geared toward playing games on the Android platform. It’s already a firm favorite with the emulation community, but any phone proclaiming itself a game-focused device comes with questions.

Is it a good phone you can play games on? Or is it just a very expensive block whose role could be better served by something more versatile? Well, this is where we find out.

What’s In The Box?

The RedMagic 8 Pro’s box is one of the first things that stand out. It’s fun. It’s extremely fun. It has shiny silver decoration with comic book-style panels on the side, featuring the RedMagic mascot. We loved it and I immediately had to show everyone else at DG how cool it was.

Inside you get the phone, of course, a small protective case, and a very hefty and decent-quality charging cable. The unit we got came with a US-standard plug, rather than a UK one, which complicated things a bit, but that might be a mistake in the dispatch rather than something related to the phone.

An Absolute Unit

The first thing that you notice about the RedMagic 8 Pro is that it’s hefty. The weight is obvious in your hands and it is noticeably thicker than you might be used to with the average phone. This isn’t a huge shocker, the fancy features like active cooling have to go somewhere.

You also quickly notice, once the phone is booted up, that the AMOLED screen is gorgeous. The colors are vivid and the details are sharp.

You might assume with all the bells and whistles and powerful components that the phone eats through its battery like a starving wolf at a bacon sandwich, but I was actually surprised by how long it could sit idle and still not run down completely. It’s outstripped my much less well-spec-stacked Honor phone several times over.

On The Phone

There are a few little widgets bundled in as default that range from useful to novelty. The controls for the active cooling sit right on the main page, and you can turn it on and off as you see fit. There’s also a counter for the amount of time you’ve spent gaming if you want to feel extremely called out by your own phone.

The UI is nice, utilizing RedMagic’s own RedMagic OS6. It looks clean and is super responsive, and had cute little sounds for different functions that let you figure out if you did something by accident. If I had one complaint it would be that the proprietary browser was the default and I don’t really like having to get to grips with a browser I won’t use elsewhere.

On the home screen, you also find the switch for the active cooling. This lets you snap the cooling fan on and off at a tap. The fan itself is pretty unintrusive. You’ll be able to tell when it’s on, but there’s very little noise, so doesn’t impede your experience.

How Does It Perform?

As you might expect from a phone marketed as a gaming phone, the RedMagic 8 is a beast in the performance department. The model we got to try out had a hefty 12GB of RAM, a 120hz screen, and a Snapdragon 8 Generation 2 processor.

In fact, finding its limits took a bit of creativity. All of the best mainstream games played with astounding performance, as you might expect. The phone effortlessly conquered Honkai: Star Rail without a struggle. New and high-end Android games were a walk in the park.

Then, came the real test. I loaded up Pojav launcher and ran Minecraft: Java Edition, and tried to make it as painful as possible. An amplified world ran at 60FPS at a reasonable render distance, and around 20FPS at an unreasonable one. Even then, trying to play the game on a touchscreen was far more of a handicap than the framerate.

It’s easy to see why many emulator users make the phone their choice for running console games. It can handle an awful lot of graphical strain without hampering your experience.

The performance is only half the story though. The RedMagic 8 Pro has a ton of game-focused features. Hitting a red slider on the side of the phone kicks it into a purpose-built gaming mode. This lets you add games, tweak their performance settings to your liking, and set yourself up to stream or capture gameplay footage.

As well as the settings, the gaming mode also comes with plugins you can add to certain games. Things like intelligence vibration settings and a zoom around your crosshair let you really customize your gaming experience. The options are staggering.

Aside From Gaming

So, aside from being able to run Minecraft Java, what else can you say for the phone? Is it rubbish in other areas to make room for fans and RAM?

In fact, there are solid specs in other areas. The camera is probably better than you need it to be. There’s a 50MP back camera, an 18MP front camera, and 8K video functionality. Personally, I’d be a bit nervous about whipping out a hefty high-performance phone to take video on the go, but you’re more than covered if it’s something you want to do.

With the fear factor in mind, it’s not as fragile as you might think. The screen has gorilla glass protection, which makes it more resistant to scratches and cracks. It’s not free reign to start using it as a coaster in between sessions, but it’s less delicate than some phones out there.

Any Dislikes?

In general, the RedMagic 8 Pro comes across very well, though there are a few things that I didn’t personally like. I’d have preferred a USB 3.0 to a USB C connection with the cable, or a choice, as it would have made things like setting up mods for Pojav a lot easier, though that might be more of a matter of personal preference.

There were a few odd quirks with the OS, and it would occasionally glitch out, refuse to log in, and require a restart which was not a huge concern, but a little alarming when it first happened.

While I didn’t personally struggle much, the weight and thickness of the phone might be a turn-off for some. If you’re expecting a sleek Samsung Galaxy experience, you’re looking at the wrong phone.

There are a few translations that are a bit off, I have a special place in my heart for the gaming plugin that promised to help me ‘detect the Lord Voldemort in the grass easily’. So glad we’ve got a plugin for that.

In Conclusion

The RedMagic 8 Pro is a phone that’s clearly had a ton of thought put into its creation. It’s an overall solid phone, both figuratively and literally, though unsurprisingly it shines most where games are concerned. Useful features and well-designed gaming UI back up its formidable specs, and it feels like far more than just a mediocre phone with a ton of RAM jammed in.

If you’re serious about playing games on your Android mobile, and you can learn to love its quirks, then this might be exactly what you’re after.

If this sounds like your speed, you can check out the RedMagic website for more details on the phone.

On the other hand, if you’d like to read about the app I ran amplified Minecraft Java on to torture the phone’s processor, check out our article on the Pojav launcher for Android.

Big, Bulky, And Beautiful

The phone is a hefty lad and has a few quirks to it, but if you want a gaming phone you probably aren't going to find anything better on the market right now.

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