The Nubia RedMagic 6R is a beastly gaming phone that comes with compromises

If you want a secondary phone just for your mobile gaming needs, look no further

Nubia’s Red Magic 6R looks like a regular phone but has a lot going on behind the scenes.

For starters, the ‘R ‘stands for ‘Racing,’ and the phone lives up to the ‘Racing’ expectations, considering its beefy internal specifications and a pocket-friendly price tag of $499.

The Red Magic 6R boasts the top-of-the-line octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor along with an Adreno 660 GPU, 8GB of RAM, a 144Hz crisp display and a sizable 4,200mAh battery. The screen is a 6.67-inch AMOLED display with a 1080 x 2400 pixel resolution and a 20:9 aspect ratio, which is a pleasure to look at as it delivers precise and vibrant colours with sharp lines and details.

The 6R’s display also features an impressive 500Hz and 360Hz sampling rate for single-touch and multi-touch inputs, respectively, making it super responsive and able to register your touch as quickly as possible in nerve-racking gaming scenarios.

Further, the phone’s display handles glare well under direct sunlight. It has a peak brightness of 770 nits, though running the 6R at full brightness drains the battery rather quickly. The display also sports Gorilla Glass 3 along with an aluminum frame and a glass back, making the front of the device strong and scratch-resistant. While I haven’t dropped the device yet (thankfully), a single high-impact drop will likely scratch or even crack the glass back of the phone.

The Red Magic 6R has a 4,200mAh battery that is great for regular use and can sustain itself for up to two days without charging, but this isn’t a ‘regular use’ phone.

In my experience, the battery significantly underperforms and drains quickly while gaming at 120Hz or 140Hz. To combat this, Nubia has added a feature called ‘Charge Separation.’ If you’re running low on battery while gaming, you can connect your phone to the accompanied in-box 30-watt charging brick, and the phone will continue to operate without draining any more battery.

In simple terms, you’ll be using the power directly from the source, similar to how a PC operates. I’ve found this feature to be extremely useful as it helps maintain the device’s peak performance and keeps the phone at a moderate temperature. Further, the company says it helps extend overall battery life.

Let’s talk gaming

This is where the Red Magic 6R’s true potential comes to light.

Making a return is Nubia’s ‘Game Space,’ which is basically a control panel and a hub for all the games on your phone. Through Game Space, you can control a bunch of performance settings, including the following:

  • Changing your display’s refresh rate (60, 90, 120 and 144Hz)
  • Setting up ‘aim assist’ (this adds a crosshair to the centre of the screen but doesn’t offer actual aim assist)
  • Setting up Macros that let you press one key to mimic the action of an input sequence
  • Screen recording
  • Charge Separation
  • Game enhancement tab (offers an auto mode, GPU Turbo mode, CPU Turbo mode and a Super Performance mode)
  • Colour profiles to suit different games (racing, shooting, MOBA and an auto mode)
  • For example, I mapped the left trigger to the ADS (aim down sight) button and the right trigger to the shoot button. These triggers are meant to be used with both your index fingers, freeing your thumb and allowing more control over the title you’re playing. So instead of having my thumbs press multiple buttons one after the other (movement, ADSing, shooting, crouching, etc.) some of the workload has been shifted to my index fingers, making my mobile gaming experience more efficient and comfortable. To register all the fast-paced input, the triggers have an impressive 400Hz sampling rate, which means the slightest touch will be recorded and implemented quicker than you can realize.

    The Red Magic 6R is the first phone I’ve used that has shoulder triggers, and I kid you not, I’m the top fragger every round when my housemates and I play PUBG Mobile.6R also boasts ‘Vapor Chamber Liquid-cooling’ tech that allows the smartphone to use a multi-level cooling system, including a variety of heat transferring metals and a thermally conductive gel foil to keep the phone’s internal temperature as optimal as possible, and it does a good job, though I’m not sold on the longevity of this technology, considering I have a history of dropping phones.

    But for now, even after extended gaming sessions, the device is capable of maintaining a cool internal temperature without any performance drops. When all of these features are combined with the 6R’s 144Hz refresh rate, the screen’s 360Hz sampling rate and the trigger’s 400Hz sampling rate, you have a phone that is capable of over-achieving even while running the most demanding mobile titles.

    The camera

    The Red Magic 6R has a rear quad camera setup with a very noticeable bump and a 16-megapixel front camera in a pinhole layout. The rear end has a 64-megapixel main wide-angle camera, an 8-megapixel ultrawide one, a 5-megapixel macro sensor and a 2-megapixel depth camera.

    The main 64-megapixel camera is the one that I think people will use the most on the 6R, considering that to use the ultrawide camera, you have to go into the Pro mode, which involves manually setting up your camera’s ISO and aperture to snap an ideal photo.

    The 64-megapixel camera’s sensor is designed by Sony and captures crisp images with accurate detail and colour. The main photo mode supports digital zoom but doesn’t have pinch-to-wide support. The zoom functionality works decently until the 5x to 8x mark, after which the photo loses a lot of detail.

    While the phone is designed to cater to gamers, the main 64-megapixel camera does a decent job at point-and-shoot photography and will please most users.

    Nubia has also done an all-right job with its AI (artificial intelligence) Super Nightscape that reduces noise and removes dead pixels from nighttime images, resulting in a brighter and clearer end product.

    The front 16-megapixel camera is average, to say the least. It can take decent photos in perfect lighting conditions but fails to impress in low-light situations where images come out dull and noisy.

    While the camera setup is something Nubia needs to set its sight on for its future endeavours, I don’t think it makes or breaks the 6R, a top-of-the-line gaming phone.

    So is it a perfect phone? No

    While the phone has improved a lot from its previous iterations, it still has some buggy aspects that keep me longing for refinement.

    First, the phone’s notification slider is a hot mess. For someone who likes to keep his notifications as minimal and organized as possible, Nubia’s notification UI is cluttered and freezes on multiple occasions. The phone’s animations look haphazard and choppy. The animations lack the smoothness that you find in modern phones running Android 11.

    While I had no problem running games, I encountered issues where Instagram would completely freeze or get force-shut down for no apparent reason. While this might be the app’s fault and not the 6R’s, Instagram gets the benefit of the doubt, considering it’s Instagram.

    Also, I can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that the design department over at Nubia couldn’t find a different spot for the phone’s speaker.

    The 6R has a single bottom-firing speaker, which sounds good when it’s not obstructed. But when you’re playing a game, the speaker is exactly where you’ll grip the phone with your hand, which completely blocks the speaker. Now, of course, I can use headphones, but at the same time, Nubia’s design team could have easily moved the speakers to a different spot on the phone, possibly on the left, as it has no buttons or ports on that side.

    But again, I have already lowered my expectations about the UI or speaker placement and am forced to remind myself that the phone has changed the way I game on mobile for the better.

    The nitty-gritty

    The phone is 5G capable and weighs in at 186 grams, which is reasonable for a gaming phone of this calibre. The main body of the device is 6.42-inches in length, 2.96-inches in width and 0.31-inches in height. Further, the phone supports dual sim, though it doesn’t have an additional memory card slot.

    The phone is available in ‘128GB storage, 6GB RAM,’ ‘128GB storage, 8GB RAM,’ ‘128GB storage, 12GB RAM’ and ‘256GB storage, 12GB RAM’ variants.

    It features a dual-LED flash setup, supports HDR, Panorama and can record 8K video at 30 frames per second.

    While the Nubia RedMagic 6R certainly has its issues, if focused primarily on the device’s gaming capabilities, it will likely impress you. And considering the pocket-friendly price tag of $499, it’s safe to say that the 6R is more than capable of being used as a regular day-to-day device with minor hiccups and compromises.