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Redmagic 7 Review – Superlative Hardware Mediocre Software

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RedMagic 7 packs serious gaming power in a tried and tested design.

RedMagic 7
$629 and up
Rating
star star star star star_empty
Pros
  • Snapdragon 8Gen 1 and 18GB RAM means some serious gaming horsepower!
  • Superb 165Hz refresh rate 6.8" AMOLED display
  • 65W GaN Fast Charging brick included in the box
  • One of the best factory supplied cases in the business
  • Transparent back with a 20K RPM LED Turbo Fan gives it a unique look
  • Haptic motor is markedly improved from the previous version
  • Headphone jack output is excellent
  • Price to performance ratio is unbeatable
Cons
  • Software is probably the weakest link in this otherwise excellent hardware
  • Camera hardware needs a serious upgrade
  • No Google Pay support in current software version

Nubia/ZTE provided AndroidHeadlines with a review unit of the RedMagic 7 Supernova version. As usual, they didn’t have a say in our opinion, nor did they see an advance copy of the review before you. The review device was used for approximately 14 days before composing this review.

RedMagic 7 is the latest gaming phone from Nubia. RedMagic 7 Supernova is basically the Transparent Ghost Edition RedMagic 6S Pro with the newer Snapdragon 8Gen1 processor and an eye-popping 18GB RAM!

We reviewed the RedMagic 6S Pro about 5 months ago and were thoroughly impressed with it. Of course, it is a new year and that means the newer Snapdragon processor is now making its way into newer smartphones. So I was curious when the RedMagic 7 showed up for review a few weeks ago. Let’s get the unboxing done to find out how this hot new gaming phone compares to the previous Editor’s Choice version.

RedMagic 7 Unboxing Experience

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The box seems to be about the same size as the previous device just with different artwork. One big improvement is that this time there is a 65W GaN Fast Charging brick along with a red USB-C cable. This brick should be able to power most modern gadgets including your laptop which means lugging around less weight in your backpack.

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Another big improvement is the vastly improved smoke color TPU case that Nubia includes for free in the box. It provides excellent grip while still showing off the transparent back of the phone.

Hardware Design and Display are a carryover which is a good thing

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Trickle-down economics does not work, but trickle-down design absolutely works in the case of RedMagic 7. The exterior of the phone is basically the RedMagic 6S Pro Transparent Ghost Edition that AndroidHeadlines did a review back in 2021. This time around Nubia is calling RedMagic 7 Supernova.

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Since the overall physical package is a carryover of the RedMagic 6S Pro the only big change is the new TPU case in the box. The phone with its slippery glass back loves to slide off practically any surface. But put the new case on the phone and it stays put. I also like the matte texture on the case which provides an excellent grip for daily use and that includes gaming. I also like the smoke color which blends seamlessly with the overall phone design unlike the clear version before.

Cooling System is now called ICE8.0

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The cooling system gets a bump to ICE8.0. Eight components of the ICE 8.0 system are VC cooling plate, Graphite, Thermal Gel, Copper Foil, Cooling Aluminum, Cooling Air Duct, Composite Phase Change Materials, and the 20K RPM Cooling Fan.

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Display on the RedMagic 7 is still a large 6.8 inch AMOLED screen with a 165Hz refresh rate. The FHD+ panel still has the 720Hz touch sampling rate along with a 500Hz touch rate for the shoulder triggers. Gorilla Glass 5 protects the display and there is a factory film screen protector on it as usual.

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Redmagic 7 AH HR Trigger
Redmagic 7 AH HR ShoulderTrigger
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The phone is built for gaming and is absolutely unabashed about advertising it from the specs to design to the display touch sampling rate. There are a few other versions of this device with lower RAM and storage options with different color backplates.

RedMagic 7 has some of the best Geekbench scores amongst Android smartphones

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RedMagic 7 has Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8Gen1 processor built on the 4nm wafer fabrication process. The new octa-core processor has a 1+3+4 configuration, similar to the Snapdragon S888, but uses Arm’s newest v9 architecture cores.  The main big core is a Cortex-X2, running at 3.0 GHz while the three middle cores are Cortex-A710, running at 2.5 GHz. Finally, the four efficiency cores are Cortex-A510, running at 1.8 GHz.

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There is a brand new Adreno 730 GPU on this processor. Qualcomm does say that it is 30% faster and 25% more power-efficient in contrast to the Adreno 660 on the Snapdragon 888+ platform.

Superlative benchmark scores

Redmagic 7 Geekbench Scores

Just look at the Geekbench 5.1 scores which show an improvement over the RedMagic 6S Pro from 2021 for both single-core and multi-core. I was curious about what other users saw in terms of the Geekbench scores. See the screenshot with scores of other people testing the RedMagic 7 and you notice that it is consistent across multiple tests or multiple units.

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For this review, the test was done with the fan turned on and after playing Genshin Impact for a full hour. The review unit has a whopping 18GB LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB UFS 3.1 storage. There was absolutely no lag and the game plays at full 60fps. The fan kept running the entire time and the phone became warm but not hot like any other regular smartphone. So if you want a pure gaming phone, this is the one to get especially at the launch price.

With the latest processor and so much RAM this smartphone is a gaming powerhouse. There are some other improvements that further help the gaming experience such as 6GB virtual RAM and Magic GPU. Nubia claims that Magic GPU with image enhance system along with quintuple buffer and fast read/write should help the gaming experience.

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During my time playing Genshin Impact on this device, I did not encounter a single slowdown or hiccup. And in normal use, this phone feels like the fastest snappiest Android device I have used to date.

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Battery life is great and a 65W GaN charging brick is included in the box!

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There are a couple of notable changes in this section in comparison with the previous RedMagic 6S Pro. First, the battery capacity is now 4500 mAh instead of 5050 mAh with the prior version. Although the China version of the previous device was also 4500 mAh so I suspect this is now the battery of choice for all devices.

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RedMagic 7 has a dual-cell 4500 mAh battery that allows for fast 65W charging. Nubia bundles a 65W GaN compact charging brick in the box. This is great since so many manufacturers are removing them from their retail box and then asking you to spend more money buying their first-party fast charging bricks. Oh, and the fan turns on while fast charging helping keep the battery cool while topping the device up very rapidly.

For everyday use with about an hour of gaming results in needing to charge the RedMagic 7 in the evening. Another thing to note is that standby battery drain is not an issue with this device.

Software is Android 12 on RedMagic 7 and is running a custom RedMagic OS5.0

Upon setup, there is virtually no difference between the home screen of the RedMagic 7 in comparison with the prior version. However, the new device is running RedMagic OS5.0 on top of Android 12. The review unit also has the January 2022 Android security patch.

From a general smartphone use viewpoint, you will need to tweak the settings to use gestures or the 3 button layout. Also if you like tucking away your apps in the app drawer you need to modify the launcher theme settings to enable it. By default, all your apps go on subsequent screens iOS style. You can move stuff around and tweak the home screen but the OS does not allow you to change the launcher so be aware of this quirk.

Virtually no bloatware or duplicate core function apps

On the plus side, there are only 4 apps in addition to what you would find on a Google Pixel device. First is the browser which you can switch to Chrome, second is the Gallery and the other two are actually useful. External Device is useful if you are using a Nubia cooling accessory that attaches to the RedMagic 7 and Nubia transfer helps you transfer your data/apps from another device.

It took me only about 5-10 minutes of tweaking to make the home screen of the RedMagic 7 mimic that of what I have on my Google Pixel 6.

Game Space Center gets an overhaul

The big improvement from a software perspective is in the Game Space Center. It now works smoothly but unfortunately still has Chinese language sub-menus. Other than that there aren’t any big noticeable differences. You still access Game Space using the red slider button on the left-hand side rail.

The new Game Space allows you to better manage your plug-in library and messages/notifications while gaming. You can tweak these settings with the Game Space Menu. You can also record quick notes, start screen recording from the main screen menu. And as usual, you can tweak the shoulder trigger settings to your personal preference from the menu.

Connectivity and Audio Impressions

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Audio output is simply put amazing on the RedMagic 7. This applies to audio output from the onboard dual speakers as well as the headphone jack. One of the big reasons for the stellar dual speaker audio output is the placement of four grilles – the first one is near the USB-C port, two more are above power and volume buttons and the last one is on the rear backplate.

Not only do these grilles improve audio from the speakers but help with airflow and good thermal management. Once you plug in headphones you get rich sound thanks to DTS X Ultra. In the sound settings, you can choose a customized DTS output for Music, Game or Movie modes. My gripe is that RedMagic makes this feature only for headphones and not regular speaker audio.

I absolutely enjoyed the audio output on wired and wireless earbuds. As usual, there is A2DP, aptX and Bluetooth LE support with this device. Software gremlins lurk in terms of Phone ringtone and Notification sound menu showing options in Chinese instead of English. So hopefully this issue gets fixed in a future software update.

To round up this section, you will love the audio output on the RedMagic 7 from a gaming/entertainment consumption perspective.

RedMagic 7 works on T-Mobile in USA straight out of the box

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RedMagic 7 showed me VoLTE 4G as soon as I put in my T-Mobile SIM card. During my review period, I saw data speeds comparable to other smartphones on T-Mobile’s network in Southern California.

Once again VoLTE support is available only if you toggle off 5G and switch to 4G LTE. Luckily with the newer software, you do get WiFi calling which is better than the RedMagic 6 series. Network connectivity is fine for the usual stuff – calls, music streaming, app downloads, or watching YouTube.  Same goes for hassle-free Bluetooth pairing for TWS earbuds or car audio systems.

You can use this device for contactless payments thanks to NFC and use Screen Cast for casting content on your TV. Nearby Share feature allows you to share files with other people seamlessly if they are in close proximity.  For the most part, you should have zero trouble connecting with this device for network, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC reader or screencast.

Cameras are a carryover and show their age

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Cameras are a carryover from the previous generation and by that I mean these are the same cameras from early 2021 which were on the RedMagic 6. Be sure to check out our Flickr Gallery in that review for the camera samples.

One noticeable change is the camera app. The menus are tweaked slightly but the main options are unchanged in the app. The selfie camera is still in the top left corner in a thin bezel. Personally, I prefer this over the under-display cameras as the output from a regular selfie cam is visibly far superior.

If you are looking for better cameras along with superb gaming prowess I suggest you may want to look at other options.

RedMagic 7 Final Verdict

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RedMagic continues its tried and tested formula of using older generation components in the newer non-Pro series. Hence the RedMagic 7 gets the latest Snapdragon processor in the 6S Pro design. But the rest of the hardware such as display, cameras, speakers, buttons are a carryover.

There are some changes which I like such as the new grille cutouts on the backplate and frame along with the improved cooling system.  Of course, I should also mention the crazy amount of RAM and the new Snapdragon 8Gen 1. While the battery capacity is now 4500, we still get a 65W GaN charging brick and support for 120W fast charging.

Two things RedMagic should improve upon. First are the cameras which are now clearly a generation behind what top-end smartphones offer. Secondly, the software needs to get rid of non-English menu options and have better translations for settings. This specifically applies to the “Game Space” section because the primary reason for purchasing this phone is that it is a gaming powerhouse.

RedMagic 7 starts at $629 for the base Black 12GB RAM/128GB storage version and then jumps to $729 for the 16GB RAM/256 GB storage colorful Pulsar version. My review unit is the fully specced 18GB RAM / 256GB storage Supernova version which will retail for $799.

If you are buying a smartphone primarily for gaming and can put up with a few software oddities then stop right here and go buy the RedMagic 7. Simply put, there is no smartphone on the market currently that can outcompete the RedMagic 7 in terms of “bang for the buck”. But if you want a great software experience and decent cameras you may want to look elsewhere.