The gaming phone that keeps it cool
The gaming smartphone space is a curious one. It’s not a big chunk of the market, but for those who are truly “gaming first” have earned their smartphone, the market is there. Nubia launched the RedMagic 6 in this space. What makes the RedMagic smartphone a gaming smartphone? For Nubia, the answer is based on performance, controls and customization.
First of all, the main specifications of the RedMagic 6 are incredibly promising. There’s a variant of the phone, and it comes with 12GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (a RedMagic 6 Pro is also available with 16GB of RAM and 256GB, but I’m reviewing the standard model here).
That 12GB of RAM leaves games plenty of memory to play. Add to that the latest SnapDragon 888 chipset and you have plenty of power and memory to run them comfortably.
128 GB should be more than enough for gamers. The potential in the future for 128GB to run out of storage a bit isn’t a concern I have at this time – with the likes of Fortnite taking up 3GB with its data files, there’s plenty of space.
You also have a quick refresh screen. While the current standard is 120Hz for flagship-style smartphones and a number of high-end handsets go up to 144Hz, the RedMagic 6 goes even higher, up to 165Hz, delivering gameplay faster and smoother. It’s just a shame you can’t find the 165Hz option in the usual settings menu, you have to head to the quick settings menu.
All of this performance comes at a cost. Heat. Dissipating the energy created by running ever faster processors, heat management is a key part of the smartphone performance equation. The RedMagic 6 has two basic methods. The first is vapor cooling, with a large area next to the motherboard to dissipate heat. This is backed by a layer of graphite designed to draw heat away from the SnapDragon 888; a cooler CPU means more processing power can be used.
The second is a more traditional method of removing heat from a computer – a small fan to help move air in and out of the handset when performance is needed. With vents allowing the fan to draw in cool air and expel warm air, the RedMagic 6’s heat profile should allow for several hours of gaming without the handset’s surface getting too hot. .
There is one downside to the latter, and that is the noise the fan makes. Much like more traditional laptops and desktops, there will be ambient noise, and if you put a lot of thermal demand into the phone, the fan will increase in speed and noise to compensate.
It’s not a huge distraction when gaming, although I suspect most gamers will be using headphones, which completely negates the noise issue.
Gaming on a smartphone isn’t as subtle a difference as gaming on a Nintendo Switch…you only have the touchscreen. Some gamers have opted for external controllers that create a Switch-like experience with physical keys. The RedMagic 6 has found a nice halfway house. You’re still using the touchscreen, but you have two haptic shoulder buttons on the long edge of the device., Step into an FPS game and these become a great addition to the touchscreen replication of two analog joysticks with various on-screen buttons around them. .
In addition to offering a refresh rate of up to 165 Hz on the screen, its touch input frequency is 500 Hz, therefore polling 500 times per second for all user input. A lightning-fast screen, quick reactions, cool processing power are
It is comfortable and adapts naturally to modern games.
You also have a small red button on the side of the handset. This activates “Game Space” on the device, essentially a game mode. If the hardware unlocks a better physical gaming experience, this button is the software equivalent.
This triggers the operation of the cooling fans, prioritizes the game in progress and removes distractions such as notifications during playback. You can also configure additional functions, such as assigning actions to the shoulder buttons on a per game basis – for example, do you want them to act as a staging move in a game or a control inventory? This is where you can choose and save this option.
The play space is where the magic of RedMagic 6 happens. If you want to know what makes a smartphone a gaming phone, this is the answer – something that brings hardware and software tweaks specifically designed for the needs of gaming. By optimizing for gamers, rather than an experience complete that you might see in the likes of a Samsung Galaxy, you enhance that part of the experience.
Oh yes and I want to point out that in terms of sound you not only have stereo speakers on the handset but also a 3.5mm headphone jack. For all the latency-reducing work in Bluetooth headphones, sometimes you need the literal immediacy of a wired connection.
That said, the RedMagic 6 does feel a bit rough around the edges when you step away from the gaming side. Nothing’s in the way, in fact nothing’s particularly bothersome, but there’s a certain sense of needing another iteration to smooth things out to get closer to the all-around performance you see in high-end smartphones. range.
The RedMagic 6 currently ships with Android 11, and the RedMagic UI sits on top of that. Echoing the style of the handset, the feel of the user interface is very angular and harsh. There is a feeling of clutter when working in your applications, dialogs, and menus.
It seems secondary to the Game Space interface. This offers a carousel of your game titles, as well as stats on how long you’ve used the phone and the various games on it. This makes the RedMagic 6 different from your regular phone and certainly takes you further into the idea that this is a gaming device…but I have two issues with that. The first is that all the muscle memory and automatic thinking about how to drive the Android UI goes out the window – you’ll use RedMagic UI here (and fall back to Android depending on which app you open) . Second, the fan starts with Game Space activation. You can turn it off, but the heat starts to rise. A little hum on the phone is a… new experience that is definitely noticeable.
There is a balance here. Are you making the phone look more Android-like (and more accessible) or more like a game console (and make it more…game-y)? The RedMagic 6 leans towards the later. This helps it stand out, but I suspect the engineering time is spent here, rather than on the core Android integration in the UI, as the device has a number of small glitches. daily use ; from slowly closing resources to exiting an app (characterised by sounds playing for a second or two after closing), to stuttering scrolls like Twitter and Facebook, to complicating the UI and hiding certain options keys in unique locations on the Platform.
The RedMagic 6 offering is pretty straightforward. Here’s a gaming smartphone, with some of the best specs in the business, all at an affordable price that’s less than the competition. It’s one we’ve seen before from brands looking to expand into new markets, particularly in the US and Western Europe.
In the case of RedMagic, it specifically targets gamers with the hardware and software featured here. It could be used as a general day-to-day smartphone, but just about any handset with the base processor/storage/memory specs offered here can do it. The design is directly focused on gamers, with high performance balanced by cooling, controls that work within the limits of a smartphone, and a user interface designed to deliver the extra performance demanded by the unique needs of gamers.
Although there are no mind-blowing bugs, the software needs a little more time to mature, but overall the RedMagic 6 is ready to enter the gaming market with a proposition solid on price and specs.
Warning: RedMagic provided a RedMagic 6 and various peripherals for testing purposes…