. Redmagic 6 is finally available for purchase in North America starting today. And based on the spec sheet and price alone this seems like a better buy than the ROG Phone 5.
For 2021, Redmagic is sticking to its formula of improving the parts that are most important for gamers in its latest smartphone. So the display refresh rate is now 165Hz up from 144Hz. The processor gets a bump to the latest Snapdragon 888 and base RAM gets a bump up to 12GB from 8GB. Then there is a larger 5050 mAh battery with support for 66W fast charging both of which are better than last year’s model.
From the looks and spec sheet alone this device ticks of every item on a checklist for a gaming smartphone. Size wise it is slightly bigger than the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. It has top-end hardware to match the gaming looks with a signature slider for gaming mode. But if you are looking for decent camera performance look elsewhere because they are the same as last year’s model. Which is to say they aren’t that great.
Overall though, I like what Nubia has done with the new Redmagic 6. It runs great as a daily device and delivers gaming performance in spades. I think if the camera experience were to be improved this would be a runaway hit in terms of the price to performance ratio. So let’s jump into the review to see if the Redmagic 6 has what it takes to be the top mobile gaming smartphone for 2021.
Hardware design though refined still has the signature Cyberpunk look
Unlike the other gaming smartphone from Asus, Redmagic is unabashedly loud and proud about its Cyberpunk theme design elements. I for one liked it but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. My review unit was the Eclipse black version. The combination of the color theme and glass back posed a real challenge in terms of hardware design element pictures. This was the hardest smartphone I have had to photograph this year.
Let’s start with the back of the device. The middle rear landing strip has the Redmagic logo at the bottom which can be lit via a LED. At the other end is the triple camera module with an inverted triangle LED. On the two sides of the ‘Redmagic’ name are gaming LEDs that can display different colors. Since I have a pre-production version there’s a Tencent Games logo on the right-hand side which will not be there on the global retail version. Near the left-hand side gaming LED, you see a ‘Powered by Nubia’ logo in small font as well. The back is Gorilla Glass but on the Pro version you get aircraft-grade aluminum which I hope is less slippery.
The metal rail sides have vent cut-outs near the top half, one on each side. There is a dedicated Game mode slider button in red on the left-hand rail, below it is the cooling fan vent and underneath that is the volume rocker.
On the right-hand side rail, you see the two built-in shoulder trigger buttons which have a slight matte texture to them. In the middle is the power button with a microphone below it. Above the power button is the other cooling fan vent cut-out. The top rail houses a headphone jack – in 2021 we need to celebrate this little detail – along with a second microphone. And finally, at the bottom, there is the SIM tray slot, third microphone, USB-C charging port, and the bottom speaker grille.
This is how you do a minimal uniform bezel display with no hole punch!
The front display has equal top and bottom bezels and thinner but uniform side bezels. I think since this is primarily a gaming smartphone the slight bezels on the top and bottom actually help hold this device better. And Redmagic squeezed the selfie camera into the bezel which means you get a clean panel with no distracting punch hole for maximum gaming fun. In addition, since these bezels are thin you still get a fairly large 6.8 inch AMOLED display.
Aside from the backplate the device looks and feels like a regular smartphone which is a good thing. Even the cooling fan vents are subtly integrated into the side rails. However, all the lighting elements in the back with the patterned colors are dead giveaways that this is a hardcore gaming smartphone.
Redmagic 6 vs Redmagic 6 Pro – key differences
By and large, the differences between the base Redmagic 6 and the Pro version are minimal. The Pro version comes in Moonlight silver thanks to the aviation-grade aluminum backplate.
The other major difference is that the base RAM on the Pro model is 16GB instead of 12GB in the regular Redmagic 6. Lastly, the non-expandable storage capacity is 256GB instead of 128GB but both are UFS3.1 grade so still plenty fast. If you want more storage and a different color then for $100 more it makes sense to get the Redmagic 6 Pro.
Performance is great with 12GB RAM and the latest Snapdragon 888
Redmagic 6 gets the latest Snapdragon 888 5G processor with the Adreno 660 GPU. Couple the best Android ecosystem processor with 12GB RAM and you have a smartphone capable of playing the most graphics-intensive games out there.
If you are playing non-intensive graphics games or watching videos via YouTube or Netflix the cooling fan stays off. But if you start playing PUBG, Genshin Impact or something from the Asphalt series for extended periods of time expect the phone’s fan to turn on and stay on while gaming. You will love the 60 frames per second, the detail, the colors in the animations but the phone will get hot despite all the cooling wizardry. I would say the phone gets quite a bit warm past the half-hour mark. Still, you should be able to play on for a long time though.
Cranking the game settings to maximum and the refresh rate to the highest settings sees no slowdown in this smartphone. There is an available Ice Dock with dual cooling fans but wasn’t available during the review period.
I would say that performance-wise this is a slightly better buy than the ROG 5 base model since you get 4GB extra RAM for a lot less money. Nubia absolutely hit it out of the park in terms of the price to performance ratio with the Redmagic 6.
Display on the Redmagic 6 is one of the best in 2021
Redmagic 6 sports a 6.8″ AMOLED screen with an eye-popping 165Hz refresh rate! The 20:9 aspect ratio FHD+ display has 1080*2400 pixels yielding a ~387 ppi with 630 nits peak brightness. While the brightness number is below 1000 nits I had absolutely zero issues in terms of visibility outdoors.
Another great thing about the display is an incredible 500Hz touch sampling rate. This feature along with the fastest refresh rate on the display panel means a top-of-the-class performance in terms of smoothness, especially during mobile gaming. In addition to the high specs, both refresh rate and touch sampling rate can be toggled to be adaptive to improve battery life while marginally diminishing performance.
The colors on the display are vivid thanks to DCI-P3 color gamut along with support for 10-bit (or a possible billion colors). This 10-bit display is something ZTE/Nubia has had for some time now and we first saw it on the Axon 20 5G here at AndroidHeadlines. Specs aside, I would say this is probably one of the sharpest looking displays in 2021 despite having a factory screen protector on it.
As far as the display panel goes the Redmagic 6 gets a 5/5 in my book.
Audio on the Redmagic 6 is loud and crisp
The dual speakers on the Redmagic 6 have DTS Ultra X surround sound. The top speaker is front-facing while the second speaker is bottom-firing type. So audio is excellent but not as good as some other devices that have true front-facing speakers on the display glass.
Audio output via the wired headset is also very good with great clarity especially for vocals while listening to audio tracks on Amazon Music or Spotify. This same observation applies to audio output via Bluetooth TWS earbuds. There’s good support for Bluetooth standards as well such as A2DP, aptX, and LE.
One thing to note is that while audio quality is definitely good there aren’t any specific audio settings or modes available via software. I thought that this was a missed opportunity by because the hardware is there but software options could have provided even more options from a gaming/entertainment consumption perspective.
Battery life is good but 165Hz refresh rate will impact it greatly
How good is the 5050 mAh battery life on the Redmagic 6? The answer in short is, it is complicated. Regular usage with 90Hz for light graphics games or Neflix video watching yields good screen-on-time stats. In my experience, regular usage SoT is definitely comparable to other smartphones with similar specs. But crank that high refresh rate to 165Hz while racing around in Asphalt 9 on 5G and the SoT starts to nose dive precipitously. During my review, while I was out and about, I left the refresh rate at 90Hz so that I didn’t have to resort to charging in the car.
And if you need to charge the phone, in 30W quick charger in the box will charge the battery fully in a little over an hour. If you have a 65W charger lying around there is support for up to 66W charging and it will charge the phone fully in 38 minutes.
Software is Android 11 with a custom launcher
My review unit came with Redmagic OS v4.0 built on Android 11 and running the March 2021 security patch. So at launch, the base software is comparable to flagship devices from other Android manufacturers.
For the most part, the software behaves pretty close to stock Android. A swipe left from the home screen brings the Google Discover Feed. The Messages app is also what Google offers. However, there are a few apps that are different from stock Android ones such as Phone, File Manager, Clock, Calculator, Contacts, etc.
While these are different, I do like the animations and layout on this skin of Android. Another positive aspect of the software is there is absolutely zero bloatware. There are two preloaded apps, these are a User Manual app and an External Devices app for Redmagic compatible accessories. That’s it.
Overall this is a clean interface devoid of any intrusive ads or storage hogging bloatware which is great. My only concern is long-term software support for the phone since this is not something where Redmagic has a good track record. I am really hoping that they do it this time because this is a great device that should easily last you 2 to 3 years without any issues.
Connectivity is good from a 5G perspective
Redmagic 6 gets a 5G signal on T-Mobile in the USA out of the box. Data speeds are comparable to other smartphones that get 5G on T-Mobile’s network here in Southern California. There is built-in VoLTE support if you toggle off 5G and switch to 4G LTE. Unfortunately, there is no support for WiFi calling.
All the regular stuff is fine – calls, video downloads, music streaming – when using network connectivity. Bluetooth 5.1 means hassle-free pairing for in-car audio or using TWS earbuds.
There is Screen Cast for casting content to your TV and a custom Flash Transfer for file sharing. My review unit was a China hardware running Global version software so there was no NFC support available. However, in the final global version, there should be NFC support per Redmagic press kit materials. I would say that from a connectivity standpoint the Redmagic has all the basics covered. However, if you are used to a device from say, Xiaomi, you might find this one to be a bit lacking.
Main Camera produces good images in daylight
Since this is primarily a gaming smartphone, I saved the camera section for the last. Why? Because this is the one area where the Redmagic 6 falls short quite a bit. First, there is no change in camera hardware from Redmagic 5 to this version. Second, I was not able to use the ultra-wide camera for taking pictures. The setting to take pictures using that sensor was simply not accessible. I am hoping this is a pre-production software issue that gets ironed out at launch.
I will let you take a gander at the plethora of options available within the camera app below. So there is a lot of potential from a software perspective. Unfortunately, you cannot tap it due to older camera hardware and/or buggy software.
Selfie camera stills are reasonable but require a lot of effort to get the white balance correct. Under most lighting conditions the selfie camera tends to blow the exposure levels too high. Portrait mode does not work for selfies. Beauty mode is on by default and you need to go to settings to turn it off.
Full sun outdoor pictures do come out great though even when pointing the camera towards the sun. Color science is accurate on the device screen as well as on a display monitor. There is a good amount of detail and clarity. Speaking of detail, the macro mode works quite well. I have a suspicion that the ultrawide camera is the macro sensor on the Redmagic 6.
Low-light pictures taken around dusk are quite decent. But once it is dark outside then the pictures get grainy with lots of detail loss in a hurry. Night Mode pictures are definitely not up to par in comparison with other smartphones in this price range. Take a look at some pictures in our Flickr gallery and decide for yourself..
Video from the main camera is feasible at Ultra 8K but I did not try it out. Regular 1080p at 60fps results are passable for short social media clips. Again there is no video possible using the ultra-wide camera.
In short, if you are not into selfies and are okay with taking pictures using the main camera in daylight then go ahead and get this phone. But if photography is important along with good gaming hardware, then sadly you need to look elsewhere.
Redmagic 6 is a superb smartphone despite its few shortcomings
In 2021 there is a ‘Flagship Killer’ device and it does not bear the OnePlus logo. Redmagic 6 offers an incredibly fast display, superb hardware specs, ultra-fast charging, great stereo speakers, and 5G connectivity for only $599! The only glaring weak point is camera performance from a selfie, ultrawide, and telephoto perspective. The main rear camera performance is quite actually reasonably good. A couple of other quirks might be due to pre-production software which should be a relatively easy fix.
From a price to performance ratio this is a superb smartphone for daily use. And when you want to kill some spare time an incredible mobile gaming powerhouse. I think gamers and non-gamers alike should definitely consider the Redmagic 6 when cross-shopping in the $600 price range.