I don’t race cars for a living but I can certainly appreciate horsepower, engine tuning, and sports car aesthetics. Likewise, I am not a hardcore mobile gamer but that doesn’t mean I can’t admire a phone that’s built with high-end gaming in mind.
Nubia has thrown another quarter in the console for its REDMAGIC line, continuing in its quest to create the ultimate in mobile gaming. With two models to choose from here in 2022, the 7 and 7 Pro, I have been able to test out the former.
Given that my smartphone needs are pretty much fulfilled with any mid-range or better device, sometimes I can only value something for what it puts forth on paper. At a certain point there is just going to be so much memory and performance that I won’t truly recognize things in the real world.
Would the REDMAGIC 7 be a case of me just not fully appreciating the handset at large or might there be a different reason for me to consider the phone for my own needs? As it turns out, there’s an awful lot to like about the device even for casual types.
There’s no mistaking the REDMAGIC line for any other brand of phone. While they are different from year to year, they carry over hallmarks and telltale signature designs. The REDMAGIC 7 is no exception.
This is is a gorgeous phone with a truly unique design and color combination. It’s offered in three colors (Obsidian, Pulsar, and Supernova) which are more or less black, iridescent purple and blue, and semi-transparent.
My review unit was the Supernova which is more or less a combination of black and silver with a few transparent spots. It’s very fun to look at and is unlike anything else on the market. The last thing you want to do is hide or obscure this interesting look with a case; fortunately, REDMAGIC provides a clear protective case so you can show off that thing off.
Similar to other gaming phones, the REDMAGIC 7 has a couple of shoulder triggers for games as well as a headphone jack and turbo fan for cooling. The port is great for those who have a preferred pair of gaming headphones or earbuds. As for the fan, that automatically turns on to keep the phone cool during game sessions.
You won’t see it, but there’s a handful of things keeping the phone cool and optimized. There’s air cooling, liquid cooling, a VC heat sink, an insulation heat pad, and other methods at work.
The phone also comes with a protective case that makes for an even grippier experience that helps when gaming. It doesn’t add too much bulk and I think it certainly helps to make it feel more natural.
The REDMAGIC 7 runs Nubia’s custom Red Magic OS (v5) which is based on Android 12. While there’s been no hard commitment on any updates, I suspect it will pick up Android 13 later this year.
I’ve seen reports from others that find the software to be buggy but I’ve not found that to be the case. I might term it as inconsistent. It doesn’t feel like it’s cohesively designed from top to bottom. Between settings, notifications, and the launcher in general, it takes a bit of time to figure out where the guardrails are and how things operate.
As someone who prefers a “stock” Android or Pixel experience, it was a bit frustrating at first. Taking photos, for instance, produced results with a watermark in them. You can go into the settings and change this, but I’d rather it be an opt-in option. I’m not trying to advertise any companies with my photos.
Similarly, the way it handles the app drawer was aggravating out of the box. You can turn on the traditional drawer and more quickly locate apps, and I recommend doing so, especially if you plan to use your phone for things other than gaming.
To its credit, everything feels built to cater to users who want to get into games and spend the majority of their time there. The Game Space gives users control over so many aspects of the device in the way of performance and tuning. I found it inviting to tinker with options and customize the experience.
There are plenty of widgets and shortcuts to sprinkle on your home screen, some of which are there by default. If you like to keep an eye on stats and performance, you’ll appreciate them. As for me, I removed them and rearranged the layout because it felt cluttered.
The REDMAGIC 7 is perhaps the most capable phone I’ve touched in years. It’s packed top to bottom with high-end hardware, tuned for gaming, and handles every task I’ve thrown at it. In looking at AnTuTu Benchmarks I see that it ranks at the top of the list of today’s Android phones.
Using the shoulder buttons is nice and helpful during games. In fact, the more games I encountered with button compatibility, the more I found myself thinking that mobile gaming might be something I could get into over time.
The 6.8-inch display is big and beautiful and a real treat to use. It has an incredible image, high refresh rate (up to 165Hz), high touch sampling rate (up to 720Hz), and 2,400 x 1,080 resolution. That is to say it doesn’t just look good for graphic-intensive games, but Netflix and video streaming, too.
Scrolling through the timeline on social media is silky smooth and the display registers taps as effectively as any other phones I’ve used. To be sure, you’ll want to toggle the refresh rate down to 60Hz or 90Hz for basic tasks and texting. It’s not necessary to go higher and it helps with the battery, too.
The turbo fan kicks on when you plug in the charger, ensuring things don’t ever get too warm. If you’ve used a recent flagship phone, you know that sometimes charging a phone while playing on it can cause it to get fairly hot.
Between the graphics, the high-resolution screen and refresh rate, and top-tier processor you’ll find that gaming sessions can really eat into the battery. To that end, I might have liked seeing a 5,000mAh power source. Many mid-range phones, and some entry-level models are higher than the REDMAGIC 7’s 4,500mAh battery.
To its credit, the 65W charging speed is very quick, taking it from nearly depleted to more than half full in just under fifteen minutes. You should be able to get from 0% to 100% in around a half hour if you’re just plugging in and leaving it unattended.
There’s no wireless charging capability here, but I’m still torn on whether I want or need that feature. Besides, you cannot charge it wirelessly and play games at the same time.
Given that the phone leans heavily in the direction of gaming, I did not have high expectations for the camera. The main rear shooter is a 64-megapixel camera which creates decent shots. It’s more than passable, and if you do a little post-capture processing, you’ll get great results worthy of social media and timelines.
The dynamic range was generally rather impressive but the exposure was sometimes too high. That said, a quick pass through Snapseed or another photo editor cleaned things up.
The 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera and a 2-megapixel macro sensor are okay but don’t seem to grab the same level of detail. Even in decent lighting the macro camera was more miss than hit. Fortunately, these are modes that I don’t use very often.
I really like the REDMAGIC 7 as a whole, even though I’m not its target user. Performance-wise it’s as good as anything I’ve tested in recent months.
I am not fond of the operating system and interface, especially out of the box, but some of that can be remedied in the settings. With that in mind, I can see how gamers might dig the “get in, game, and get out” way it feels.
As a general phone user, I appreciate the big screen with all of its bells and whistles. I’m also a fan of super-fast charging and headphone jacks. I wouldn’t recommend this one for its camera experience, but otherwise it’s top-tier hardware at a mid-range price.
If you’re a hardcore mobile gamer, or considering leveling up in the space, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more well-rounded device.
Learn more about the REDMAGIC 7 and other models at the phone maker’s website. You can purchase the handset in three colors and configurations. Obsidian ($629) comes with 12GB RAM and 128GB storage; Pulsar ($729) has 16GB RAM with 256GB storage; Supernova ($799) boasts 18GB RAM and 256GB storage.