The Nubia Red Magic 3 Review: A 90Hz Gaming Phone With Active Coolingby Andrei Frumusanu on September 27, 2019 9:00 AM EST
Conclusion & End Remarks
The Red Magic 3 is only the second real gaming phone we’ve come to review, and frankly I didn’t really know what to expect from the phone as we’ve never had a Nubia device in-house.
The phone’s design certainly passes the criteria of achieving a “gaming” look. Particularly in the crimson red variant we reviewed today actually looks quite great in person, and Nubia doesn’t go too much overboard in terms of the aesthetics.
I think my favourite thing about the phone is that although it’s a quite large 78.5mm wide as well as 215 grams, due to its thinner and rounder edges it’s a lot more comfortable to hold than other devices of this footprint, so that’s a definitive ergonomic win.
Performance of the Red Magic 3 was excellent, and out there amongst the best Snapdragon 855 devices.
One of the big features of the phone is the fact that this is one of the rare (only?) devices which actually employ an active cooling fan on the inside. There’s a rear intake grill underneath the camera with the exhaust coming out the right side of the phone near the volume buttons. Whilst I was excited to test this feature, the hype quickly fizzled out as the results did not end up being particularly promising, and in effect I wasn’t able to measure any meaningful impact on the temperatures or performance of the phone. The little fan is just too small to move any meaningful amount of air and compared to the heat that the phone passively radiates out, it doesn’t help too much in terms of improving the thermals of the phone.
Nevertheless, the gaming performance of the Red Magic 3 is still plenty good. It’s not quite the no throttling at all scenario showcased by the Reno 10x or the OnePlus 7 Pro, but at least it manages to be amongst the best S855 devices out there all while maintaining quite reasonable device temperatures.
The highlight of the Red Magic 3 is the screen. It’s not very colour accurate nor is it very dense, but it’s a 90Hz panel and that alone should make it stand out amongst the competition. As with the OnePlus 90Hz devices out there, it represents a unique feature that can carry a device on its own, and I think it also does so on the Red Magic 3. The only practical issue with the combination of gaming phones and high refresh rate displays is the fact that there’s still a ton of games out there that are just FPS capped to lower refresh rates, but this is more of an ecosystem problem rather than an issue of the RM3 itself.
The best thing about the 90Hz display is the fact that it has little to no impact on the device’s battery life. This isn’t because it’s some much more efficient display, but it’s simply because Nubia equipped the Red Magic 3 with a very large 5000mAh battery.
In terms of cameras, the RM3 is pretty simplistic. It only has a single main rear unit. The module and its resulting captures actually surprised me: it showcased amongst the best detail retentions in daylight shots among any smartphone. It doesn’t quite have the dynamic range of other flagship devices with better hardware, but it’s still an overall good shooter.
In low-light, the lack of OIS is limiting the phone in not being any better than it is. I didn’t have large expectations here and frankly maybe that’s why it surprised me when it massively outperformed the Mi9 and BS2 featuring the same camera hardware. It made passable pictures which are useable, but certainly not competitive to any other phone out there with better hardware or proper night mode photography software processing.
Finally, the gaming features of the phone are relatively in-line with what we’ve seen of the limited amount of gaming phones out there. I think the only worthwhile and practical addition here that does augment the experience is the “Touch Button” functionality that enables one to map the two additional capacitive hardware buttons of the phone, plus the rear fingerprint sensor to three UI functions in a game, giving you essentially three additional control buttons for games.
Overall, I think the best features of the Red Magic 3 remains its 90Hz screen as well as its very large battery capacity. Its performance is also among the best S855 out there. While it’s lacking some other high-end flagship features, particularly in terms of camera versatility, I think it’s still a reasonable package given that the phone retails for only $/€479.