Affordable gaming phone with useful shoulder triggers
For some reason, smartphone brands decided a few years ago that gaming phones had to be big and have a flashy exterior, like a giant flashing LED strip on the back, or some kind of weirdly shaped flashy.
Nubia’s Red Magic series of gaming phones had also followed this trend, with the first Red Magic phone released in 2018 sporting that bright LED strip, and the Red Magic 6 from earlier this year receiving a garish gradient purple paint job, with a bright LED strip.
But Nubia’s latest, the Red Magic 6R, breaks with convention. It’s the first gaming phone in recent memory that looks like a regular phone. He doesn’t go out of his way to attract attention.
And tipping the scales at just 186g and measuring 7.8mm thin, it’s also among the smallest and lightest gaming phones to date.
While the Red Magic 6R doesn’t have those arguably fancy frills, it does have some crucial elements that make the device more gaming-ready than, say, a typical iPhone or Samsung.
First, the 6R’s OLED screen refreshes at 144Hz, even faster than the ultra-fast 120Hz screens on consumer phones. Not all games support 144 frames per second, but those that do, like Real Racing 3, offer sublime animations.
That 144Hz refresh rate also makes normal smartphone tasks like scrolling through a website or email more enjoyable, with smooth animations.
Then there are the shoulder button triggers, which are located on the right side of the device. Anyone who has played first-person shooters or racing games would understand why having trigger buttons for the index finger is crucial, as it frees up the thumb to do other things. I’m willing to say that having shoulder triggers is a transformative experience for first person shooters.
Finally, a vapor chamber and heat pipe built into the phone keep the phone’s internal temperatures down. I’m also a fan of the phone’s aluminum body and low-profile camera module design, with the latter housing only a serviceable camera system consisting of a 64-megapixel Sony IMX 682 sensor and ultra-high resolution camera. 8 megapixel wide. The other two cameras are mostly useless macro and depth sensors, so I would consider this phone a dual camera phone.
There are areas that disappoint: the Red Magic 6R only houses a single bottom-firing speaker and has a relatively small 4,200mAh battery, both of which are particularly notable flaws for a phone dedicated to mobile games.
The 4200mAh battery in particular just can’t sustain the phone for long periods of time if it’s running at 144Hz. doesn’t need it. But still, if you like to keep the refresh rate high (which I do), the phone can’t last 10 hours. At least there’s a fast charging brick included in the phone’s packaging.
Nubia has also incorporated smart software tricks to make the phone more suitable for gaming. For example, there is “Game Space”, which is a menu that a user can drag into the frame with a swipe of a finger, and from there the user can open chat apps in a mini window floating (so he can reply to a message without leaving a game), or completely disable notifications while the game is running. The menu also offers screen brightness and refresh rate controls, simplifying the process.
Overall, the Nubia Red Magic 6R is a capable gaming phone – that Snapdragon 888 chip certainly helps things – and while battery life and speaker output are disappointing, I think these are fair trade-offs given that the phone is relatively affordable, officially priced at €499 in Europe ($595) and around the Chinese yuan equivalent of $450 in China. This is a phone with super high refresh rate, flagship processor and unique features like shoulder triggers. Even if you don’t play mobile games, this phone is so light and thin (and unassuming) that it’s a good “regular phone”.