Red Magic 6S Pro Review: An unmatched gaming experience
The birth of the gaming smartphone genre has given us so many incredible products. Big-name brands like Lenovo and ASUS have embraced the mobile gaming sector wholeheartedly. The result is a brilliant variety of great phones in this otherwise niche segment. Red Magic is a key player in the industry and is familiar to all who dabble in the world of gaming phones. The Nubia-owned brand caters to the mobile gaming niche and excels at creating gaming and performance-focused beasts.
Red Magic gets its fair share of credits for innovation, being the first company to put features like a fan, a liquid cooling system, shoulder triggers, and crazy high refresh rates in a phone. Ironically, most of Red Magic’s phones have fallen short of being all-rounders due to their terrible software and their subpar cameras.
In the first half of 2021 alone, Red Magic launched three gaming phones as part of the Red Magic 6 Series. The Red Magic 6 and 6 Pro both tout a 165Hz display — once again being the first devices in the world to do so. Then there’s the Red Magic 6R, a lean mean gaming machine with a non-gamer aesthetic. Now, the brand has come up with yet another feature-rich smartphone called the Red Magic 6S Pro. I spent two weeks using the Red Magic 6S Pro and here’s my review of it.
Nubia RedMagic 6S Pro: Specifications. Click to expand.
Nubia RedMagic 6S Pro: Specifications
|Specification||Nubia RedMagic 6S Pro|
|Dimensions & Weight|
|RAM & Storage|
|Battery & Charging|
|Security||In-display fingerprint scanner|
|Software||RedMagic OS 4.0 based on Android 11|
About this review: We received the Red Magic 6S Pro from Red Magic for review on September 3rd, 2021. Red Magic had no input in the contents of this review.
Red Magic 6S Pro Review: Design
The Red Magic 6S Pro bears all the physical character traits that you would expect from any Red Magic phone. It has a loud and bold design that feels almost over the top next to more tame phones like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. Red Magic sent me the ‘Black’ color option but really, it’s an ashy silver shade that gleams in the light. The glass back feels fantastic even if it is littered with a mess of company logos and names.
In the dead-center of the back, you will also find a touch area called the M Key that functions as an additional button for compatible games. Moving along the edges of the phone, the top of the device houses the 3.5mm headphone jack while the bottom accommodates the dual-SIM tray, a USB Type-C port, and a speaker grill for one of the two stereo speakers. Meanwhile, the situation on the right side of the phone involves an air vent, a power button, and two shoulder triggers on either edge.
Finally, on the left-hand side of the Red Magic 6S Pro, you will find the physical gaming mode toggle, another air vent, and the volume rocker. You can customize the sensitivity and map the controls of both shoulder triggers and the M Key. The triggers have a touch sampling rate of 420Hz and work like a charm. The third key, on the other hand, does not work well. It gives haptic feedback which helps but more often than not, you’re left scrambling at the back of the phone waiting for it to work.
An RGB light in the shape of the brand’s logo is embedded in the back of the Red Magic 6S Pro. You can’t change the red hue of the light but you can change the frequency at which it lights up. Although it may be a little jazzy to look at, the Red Magic 6S Pro is nowhere near as boisterous as the ASUS ROG Phone 5. Personally, I like the phone’s design but I wouldn’t be too happy to brandish it in a formal setting like a meeting or an interview.
Red Magic 6S Pro Review: Display
This is a category that Red Magic has outdone itself with when it comes to the 6S Pro. It has a 6.8” FHD+ AMOLED display with a 165Hz refresh rate and a peak brightness of 700 nits. Calling this display buttery smooth would be an understatement. If you can imagine running a hot Japanese chef’s knife through a block of lard, that would be a more apt description. The vivid screen is such a delight to look at, you won’t tire of it for a while (or ever). The bezels are small, although the forehead and chin are relatively larger. The wider forehead compensates for this by hiding the front camera within it, leaving the bulk of the glass notch-less.
On the more technical side of things, you get a whopping 720Hz touch sampling rate. That’s 220Hz more than the Red Magic 6 and 6 Pro’s 500Hz touch sampling rate. In layman’s terms, the phone registers your touch at a lightning-fast speed. If you’re an e-sports player or just highly competitive, this feature will take your gaming experience up a notch and give you a competitive edge. I witnessed this first-hand during my aggressive gaming sessions (to the woe of my opponents).
165Hz may be incredibly snappy but it does drain quite a lot of battery. Conveniently, users have the option to change the refresh rate right from the Quick Settings menu. The Quick Settings shortcut allows you to choose between 60Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz, and 165Hz. You can do this and adjust the touch sensitivity in-game by accessing the Game Space window.
Red Magic also bumped up the in-display fingerprint reader to the 7th generation. This enables the phone to scan fingerprints in the blink of an eye and also adds a heart rate monitor to it. It’s a handy health feature to have especially if you don’t own a smartwatch or fitness tracker with an ECG sensor. The heart rate scanner works perfectly well and I found no discrepancies with the readings.
Red Magic 6S Pro Review: Performance
Before getting into the thick of it, let’s get the on-paper facts and figures out of the way. The Red Magic 6S Pro packs some serious muscle under the hood. It is one of the few phones in the world with a Snapdragon 888+ SoC inside and Red Magic put the chip to good use. The Snapdragon 888+ is a tweaked version of the regular Snapdragon 888 SoC. It has a Kyro 680 CPU that clocks at 3GHz and an Adreno 660 GPU. There are two RAM options, 12GB and 16GB, but the unit I was sent had 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM paired with 128GB of UFS 3.1 storage.
I ran a couple of benchmarks as a testament to the Red Magic 6S Pro’s kingly performance, starting with AnTuTu that tests everything. The first time around, the phone was at a cool temperature and I hadn’t used it for much. It achieved a mighty result on AnTuTu, scoring 752156. To put things in perspective, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra scored 755462 in the same benchmark. According to the AnTuTu ranking, this makes the Red Magic 6S Pro the top-performing phone in the world.
Getting this result in optimal conditions is a good indicator but I wanted to see whether the phone could produce the same results after it had been used and abused. I then went about business as usual and had a nice long gaming session with the refresh rate and brightness settings at max. Even after the phone’s temperature went up and the battery drained, the second round of testing using the AnTuTu benchmark gave fantastic results. The Red Magic 6S Pro got a 749112, maintaining its position at the top.
Next, I moved on to Geekbench 5 that tests only the CPU. In prime conditions, the phone got an overall single-core score of 1111 and a multi-core score of 3676. After many hours of usage and heat generation, the second Geekbench results came out to be 1094 for the single-core category and 3690 for the multi-core section. Whether you look at the better CPU score or the poorer one, the Red Magic 6S Pro still beats the Galaxy S21 Ultra any day. Geekbench reports the Samsung flagship’s single-core score as 927 and the multi-core score as 3094.
The results speak for themselves. Not only can this phone handle any game or app you throw its way, but it can do so in the best possible way consistently. Even if you’ve been playing Call of Duty or Genshin Impact for three hours straight, the performance dip is incredibly minute. There are no lags, no glitches, and no oopsies of any sort.
What those numbers translate into is powerful, undiluted gaming performance that will knock your socks off. Factoring in the unbelievably high refresh rate and touch sampling rate, all the clogs work together to deliver an ultra-smooth user experience. This phone can be set up from scratch in a matter of seconds, and it can reboot in the blink of an eye. Installing and using performance-heavy apps is quick as lightning.
Now of course you must be if all that gear heats up when put to use. Red Magic thought of that and included a multi-layered cooling system to combat this problem. This consists of an actual, rotating exhaust fan that pumps out hot air from both sides of the phone, a vapor chamber cooling, a layer of graphite, thermal gel, a copper foil, cooling aluminum, and a unique phase change material (PCM). The PCM is an aerospace-grade substance with heat-retaining properties. It prevents the phone from getting too hot to hold and regulates the temperature of the device.
As for the software, the Red Magic 6S Pro runs Red Magic OS 4.5 based on Android 11. I was told that the software is still under progress and it isn’t the final version that customers will get out of the box. Keeping this in mind, please take my thoughts on the operating system with a grain of salt. Red Magic is notorious for bugs and software issues. In the two weeks I spent using the phone, I did face some problems with the OS. There were times where the phone would just switch back to the previous app after I had already closed it.
I was also irked by the WiFi which disconnected from my home network after one week for no reason. I reached out to Red Magic and they claimed it was a problem with my router but that wasn’t it. After a lot of fiddling around with the phone and changing many settings, it finally worked. Another problem came up when I turned on the dark mode and realized I could not read anything in the file manager because the font remained dark. These are small issues that spell trouble in the long run and I hope the final version of the software addresses these issues. The bottom line is, Red Magic OS may have come a long way, but it still needs work.
Red Magic 6S Pro Review: Battery & Charging
The Red Magic 6S Pro sports a 5,050mAh battery and supports up to 66W Quick Charge. Unfortunately, users only get a 30W charger out of the box. With the 30W first-party charger, I juiced up the phone from a dead 0% battery level to a full 100% in 45 minutes. Based on this it is safe to assume that a 66W charger will attain the maximum battery level in 30 minutes or less.
For regular phones from brands like OnePlus, Samsung, and Motorola, 5,050mAh would give users at least all-day or two-day battery life. Of course, this depends on the usage and the phone’s settings. A gaming phone is a completely different story because chances are, the user will run a lot of heavy apps and games. Then you also have to consider extreme specifications like 700 nits of brightness and a 165Hz refresh rate on a huge 6.8” AMOLED display.
The Red Magic 6S also has other components such as the RGB light on the back, the air triggers, the M Key, a dynamic Always-On Display, and a medley of cooling mechanisms including a moving fan. All these things consume the phone’s battery much faster than your average smartphone. During my testing, I tried to use the phone as much as possible. This involved loads of gaming at max brightness and peak refresh rates. I even used the phone as a substitute speaker when listening to music. This was partly because I needed to test the phone and partly because the stereo speakers sounded so great.
There wasn’t a single day when the Red Magic 6S Pro lasted a full heavy day of use, and that’s not entirely unsurprising or bad. If you’re going to be using playing games on it all day, there’s no way this phone will ever last you all day. That’s not to say that you won’t get enough gameplay hours though, as I squeezed the life out of this phone quite a bit. The battery life is satisfactory but it can’t compete with some other phones like the ROG Gaming Phone 5.
I have analyzed almost all the key features of the Red Magic 6S Pro, but I left the camera aspect of the phone completely out of the equation. This was intentional as I feel that photography is insignificant when it comes to a powerful gaming phone such as this. I will say that the triple camera setup with the main 64MP lens takes perfectly okay photos. It isn’t anything to write paragraphs about, but you won’t be beside yourself with anger either — a flaw that most gaming phones had in the past. Nothing really changes on this end. If you prioritize an impeccable camera, you need to exclude gaming phones from your consideration.
At the end of the day, when reviewing a product, I always factor in the price that consumers have to pay. What you spend dictates your expectations and I believe that is completely justified. After all, people work hard to earn their bread. The base 12GB/128GB model of the Red Magic 6S Pro will cost $599. For that amount, you get an unmatched gaming experience in a cool structure made of glass and metal. Above all, you get world-class performance consistently so you can rely on the phone.
Red Magic has proven that you don’t need to break the bank to get a top-notch gaming phone. Sure, the software isn’t perfect but it has come leaps and bounds from how awful it used to be in the past. The only real issue I have with the phone is the finicky M Key. It seems to have a mind of its own and only works when it wants to. At the moment, it’s more of a gimmick and is just leveraged to add weight to the phone’s tech specs. However, it doesn’t take away from the experience nor does it hinder usage in any way or form.
Despite these minor faults, my final thoughts regarding the Red Magic 6S Pro are overwhelmingly positive. That magical 165Hz display, the impeccable performance, and the outstanding cooling system, everything works in glorious harmony. If you’re on the prowl for a standout gaming phone, this is it.