“Our take on the latest gaming smartphone to hit the subcontinent – the nubia Red Magic 3” Here’s a fun fact – gaming smartphones aren’t a new thing, and the concept dates as far back as the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, a slider phone with a dedicated D-pad and numerous hardware buttons. Since then, games have gotten more demanding and resource-hungry, and the mobile gaming genre has risen in popularity. Consequently, we see a reincarnation of sorts for gaming phones, and the nubia Red Magic 3 is the latest entrant in the segment.
But, what separates the Red Magic 3 from devices like the OnePlus 7 or the ASUS 6Z, which ship with the same innards? More importantly, why should one splurge more for the same performance on nubia’s offering? To find out, I put my SIM in the Red Magic 3, and after a week of testing, here’s why I feel that gaming smartphones, in their current state, might not be the right fit for most buyers.
Specs at a glance
Design and Display
I’ll cut straight to the chase here – if you are a hardcore gamer, and you want it to be known with the phone you carry in your pockets, then you should seriously consider picking up the Red Magic 3. You see, amidst the herd of flat, all-glass flagships, the Red Magic 3 stands out with its full metal chassis and edgy design. Be it the hexagonal-shaped fingerprint sensor, the aggressive red accents, or the camera module, which looks like a diamond straight out of Dangerous Dave, the design of the nubia Red Magic 3 is as unique as it gets.
What’s more, nubia has actually paid heed to gamers’ needs and has outfitted the Red Magic 3 with a built-in cooling fan. That’s right; the Red Magic 3 is the first smartphone in the world to feature a full-fledged fan that works in conjunction with a liquid cooling mechanism to keep the smartphone’s innards nice and frosty. Since I was usually gaming in an air-conditioned room, I didn’t notice any difference in temperature on the nubia Red Magic 3 versus other top-tier flagships. But, I’m guessing that the feature could come in handy in warmer environs.
Now, what good is a gaming phone if it doesn’t come with RGB, amirite? To that extent, those opting for the Red Magic 3 will get an RGB strip towards the back of the device, which can be controlled from within the settings to exhibit cool effects. While not as useful, the strip does enhance the overall aesthetics of the phone.
Perhaps the feature that would appeal to most gamers is capacitive shoulder buttons on the Red Magic 3’s frame. So, if you’ve ever gamed on a console (such as a PS4), you must’ve acclimated yourself to the L2 and R2 shoulder buttons to shoot and aim in an FPS title. Well, now you can get the same experience on the nubia Red Magic 3 as well, as the phone’s software allows you to map almost any touch input onto the capacitive buttons.
I found this particularly helpful in the popular battle royale title PUBG, wherein I remapped the firing action to the triggers and made the on-screen icons for the same transparent. Consequently, not only could I fire more comfortably, but I also had a much better view of my in-game surroundings as there were two fewer buttons on the screen, clouding my view. Furthermore, the handset ships with a 4D Shock Mode which adds vibration feedback on select titles like PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9, thereby making a user’s gaming experience more immersive.
I’d also like to add that unlike the BlackShark 2 gaming smartphone, launched recently, the nubia Red Magic 3 ships with a headphone jack. Consequently, you won’t have to choose between charging the phone or using your headphones on the Red Magic 3. The phone also comes with dual-front firing speakers that get audaciously loud and a magnetic connector that will let you attach cool accessories like a dock to the phone. Unfortunately, I wasn’t sent the dock along with the phone and, therefore, couldn’t test it during my time with the Red Magic 3.
As I preface previously, the Red Magic 3 ships with a capacitive fingerprint sensor for security. And, as quirky as the design of the unit is, it fared well during my testing. You also get the option to unlock the device using face recognition, which worked well during the day, albeit the mechanism acted finicky at night. With all the design features out of the way, it’s finally time to talk about the handset’s display. The Red Magic 3 is only the second phone in the country outside the OnePlus 7 Pro to feature a 90Hz display. While the panel isn’t as high-res as the one on OnePlus’ flagship offering, I was more than okay with the quality of the screen, which is backed by AMOLED technology and maxes out at a Full HD+ resolution. What’s more, all the movie buffs in the audience should know that the display comes with support for the Mobile HDR platform as well, and therefore, you can make the most out of select TV series like Marvel’s Daredevil on the device.