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Nubia RedMagic 7 review: A killer gaming phone for a great price

The new processor is almost enough for us to forgive the phone’s clunky software

Nubia RedMagic 7 on bookshelf
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

Although its predecessor only came out in October last year, the Nubia RedMagic 7 packs a punch with an upgraded processor that, in some regards, even outperforms the iPhone 13’s A15 Bionic chip. Too bad about its software though.

Pros

  • +

    Powerful, top-of-the-line processor

  • +

    Impressive 165Hz refresh rate

  • +

    Incredibly fast charging

  • +

    Excellent value

Cons

  • -

    Poor camera that accomplishes the bare minimum

  • -

    Smaller battery compared to predecessor

  • -

    Clunky software

RedMagic 7: Specs

Price: Starting at $629
Android version: 12, RedMagic OS 5
Display: 6.8-inch AMOLED (2400 x 1080)
Refresh rate: 60-165Hz
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
RAM: 12GB, 16GB, 18GB
Storage: 128GB, 256GB
Rear cameras: 64MP main, 8MP ultrawide, 2MP macro
Front camera: 8MP
Battery: 4,500 mAh
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 10:19 (60Hz), 9:59 (90Hz), 9:54 (120Hz), 9:29 (165Hz)
Charging: 65W
Size: 6.7 x 3 x 0.37 inches
Weight: 7.6 ounces
Colors: Obsidian, Pulsar, Supernova

Update (April 12): There's now a RedMagic 7 Pro model going on sale, and it's got one of the best uses of an under-display selfie camera we've seen.

CPUs often make or break gaming PCs, and as it turns out, smartphones are no different. Although the RedMagic 7 arrives just mere months after the RedMagic 6S Pro, the latest model offers a much-improved performance thanks to its shiny new processor. 

Powered by Qualcomm’s latest flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, the RedMagic 7’s impressive graphical capabilities and smooth refresh rate are able to push the mobile gaming experience to a whole new level. However, like most things in life, Nubia’s newest gaming phone comes with its own flaws. Still, despite its slightly downgraded battery life, poor cameras and annoying software, the RedMagic 7 more than makes up for its issues thanks to its ability to breeze through the very best Android games with relative ease. 

In the following RedMagic 7 review, I’ll discuss how although this device may have to iron out some kinks, it’s still a solid gaming phone. If you still don’t find yourself convinced by the end of the article, make sure to check out our list of the best gaming phones for more options.

RedMagic 7 review: Price and availability

Like all models in the series, the RedMagic 7 is aimed as an affordable smartphone designed to enjoy mobile games the way they were intended. However, the model specs and prices can differ slightly depending on where you’re located.

Outside of China, we have the 12GB + 128GB Obsidian base model priced at $629/£529, the 16GB + 256GB Pulsar variant at $729/£619, and the 18GB + 256GB Supernova version at $799/£679. Those are very competitive prices, especially for a phone with these specs.

Compare this to the base model Samsung Galaxy S22, which has the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. You’ll pay $799 for that, the same price as the most expensive RedMagic 7 model that offers more than twice the RAM and double the storage capacity. But there’s also a camera argument to be made.

RedMagic 7 review: Performance

The new smartphone’s internal hardware accomplishes its job beautifully. The RedMagic 7 handles any mobile game you can throw at it with relative ease thanks to Qualcomm’s latest top-of-the-line processor, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. With 3.0GHz of processing speed coupled with a good balance of RAM and storage, this device also comes with everything you’d typically expect from a gaming phone, including a built-in cooling fan and highly-responsive shoulder triggers. 

Nubia RedMagic 7 with box

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

When it comes to raw power, the RedMagic 7 manages to hold its own against some of the best smartphones around, including the industry favorite iPhone 13. Here’s a more detailed look at how they compared.

RedMagic 7RedMagic 6S ProiPhone 13
Geekbench 5 (single / multicore)1244 / 38521130 / 36851668 / 4436
3DMark Wild Life Unlimited (Score / FPS)10,244 / 615881 / 359331 / 56
3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited (Score / FPS)2557 / 151551 / 92189 / 13

It comes as no surprise that the RedMagic 7’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip offers a significant improvement over the Snapdragon 888 Plus found inside its most recent predecessor, the RedMagic 6S Pro. Despite being released just a few months apart, the generational gap in graphic capabilities between the two phones is immediately apparent. 

From our graphics benchmarking tests conducted using 3DMark Wild Life, you can see that the RedMagic 7 yielded almost twice as many frames-per-second than the 6S Pro. It even notably surpassed the mighty iPhone 13 and its A15 Bionic chip by a few frames. 

There aren’t many occasions in life when you can attribute improvement in gaming skills solely down to having better equipment. However, during our gaming tests, it was clear that the RedMagic 7’s smooth refresh rate and superior graphic rendering gave me a clear advantage over other players in several rounds of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

Nubia RedMagic 7 display

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The highly responsive shoulder triggers located on the side of the device are incredibly useful in-game, helping the phone imitate a gaming controller when needed. This even allowed me to finally get my first-ever ‘Winner winner, chicken dinner’ on PUBG, something I would have never thought possible on either PC or console.

Nubia RedMagic 7 cameras

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In terms of pure computing speed however, Geekbench 5 benchmarks showed that the RedMagic 7 had some ways to go to catch up with Apple’s flagship device. Even compared to the RedMagic 6S Pro, the 7 offered minimal improvements in performance.

Nubia RedMagic 7 camera

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The good news is that you won’t need to worry about the device overheating during your nonstop gaming sessions. The RedMagic 7 maintained a normal temperature even after running Real Racing 3 and Genshin Impact for several consecutive hours. The phone accomplishes this thanks to a built-in cooling fan that automatically kicks in whenever a game is launched.

Nubia RedMagic 7 display

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The RGB-clad fan also serves as much of a stylistic purpose as a functional one, boosting the phone’s “gamer aesthetic” and giving it a unique design that you’d be more likely to see on a PC rather than a mobile device. However, from what we could tell, the colorful fan appears to be only visible on the more expensive Supernova model.

RedMagic 7 review: Display

While the RedMagic 7’s processor received a ton of upgrades, its display seemingly did not. Apparently, Nubia’s latest gaming smartphone includes a similar display as the ones used on both the RedMagic 6 and the 6S Pro. That’s not to say that the screen is not up to par — on the contrary, the 6.8-inch AMOLED Full HD panel performed well in all our tests. I guess the saying is, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. 

Here’s how the display measured up against other phones.

Nubia RedMagic 7 on bookshelf

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

RedMagic 7 (Vivid / Natural)RedMagic 6S Pro (Vivid / Natural)iPhone 13
sRGB (%)214 / 114171 / 119110
DCI-P3 (%)152 / 81121 / 8478
Delta-E0.39 / 0.310.29 / 0.240.26
Brightness (nits)700696795

As you can tell, the difference in brightness between the displays featured in the RedMagic 7 and the 6S Pro was minimal to the point of being negligible. The latest model also had a lower Delta-E color accuracy score, where 0 is perfect, though this likely won’t be too noticeable with the naked eye. 

Nubia RedMagic 7 display

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

While the RedMagic 7’s display allows you to adjust the refresh rate at will, the process of doing so is manual, meaning you’ll have to dive into your phone setting every time you want to switch between 60Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz and 165Hz. You can also change it on the fly thanks to the Game Space shortcut (where you can also adjust a bunch of other gaming-specific settings). The ability to change the refresh rate at will is still quite useful, since this means that whenever you’re in the mood for some web surfing, you’ll have the freedom to dial down the display to conserve your battery.

RedMagic 7 review: Battery life and charging

Speaking of battery life, from our tests, the RedMagic 7 tends to last about 10 hours, depending on the refresh rate you set on the display. (In the Tom’s Guide battery life test, we set a phone’s display to 150 nits of brightness and then task the device to endlessly reload web pages over a cellular connection until it dies.) As you can see in our comparison table below, the RedMagic 7’s runtime is roughly the same amount that you’d get from the iPhone 13, though we couldn’t help but notice that these figures are almost 3 hours fewer than we got with the RedMagic 6S Pro.

From what we can tell, even though the latest model features a more energy-efficient 4nm processor, the RedMagic 7’s operating time is let down by the fact that its battery capacity is only 4,500 mAh compared to its predecessor’s 5,050 mAh. 

RedMagic 7 (60Hz / 90Hz / 120Hz / 165Hz)RedMagic 6S Pro (60Hz / 90Hz / 120Hz / 165Hz)iPhone 13
Battery life (Hrs:Mins)10:19 / 9:59 / 9:54 / 9:2913:13 / 12:40 / 12:41 / 12:5010:33
Recharge percentage (15 mins)601826
Recharge percentage (30 minutes)953351

Still, what the RedMagic 7 lacks in battery life it more than makes up for in charging speed. We were surprised to discover just how quickly we were able to charge the device, hitting 95% battery capacity in just 30 minutes using the 65W charger that comes included with the phone. This is a more than welcome solution to the previous model’s charging issues that only allowed it to charge up to 33% in half an hour. 

Nubia RedMagic 7 power port

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

It’s worth mentioning that I did encounter an annoying issue charging the phone with anything other than its original USB-C cable. After misplacing the RedMagic 7’s native 65W charger, I decided to save myself the trouble of looking for it, instead plugging the phone into a random 20W Apple USB-C charger I had lying around the house.

When I returned several hours later, I was unpleasantly shocked to see that the phone’s battery was still on 0%. After a brief panic attack fueled by the thought that I had somehow broken the review unit, I dug out its native charger and was relieved to see that the phone booted up in just under a minute. While it may come as no surprise considering I tried to swap a 65W charger with a 20W one, it still seemed odd that the Apple cable failed to juice up the phone in such a long period of time.

RedMagic 7 review: Cameras, software and other features

Cameras: For a brand new phone with a 165Hz display and a new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, Nubia understandably needed to make some sort of compromises to keep the handset affordable. Unfortunately for photography enthusiasts, most of these concessions seem to have affected the phone’s camera system.

Nubia RedMagic 7 camera

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As has been the case with its predecessors, the RedMagic 7’s cameras seem to accomplish the bare minimum. Its 64MP rear and 8MP front lenses fail to meet expectations of a modern smartphone camera by producing images that don’t do its display any justice. Colors are simply dull without the natural tones you might find on an iPhone or Pixel. Focus is very soft and the edges of some of our test images were slightly fuzzy.

The 8MP ultrawide camera isn’t much better. The 2MP macro sensor was near-impossible to use given that most of the time, it failed to focus the camera enough to take a decent photo. The 8MP camera around front produces images that feature far too much face smoothing, though you can disable this in the settings. The selfies from the RedMagic 7 ended up being too underexposed in our testing, too, except in the most ideal lighting conditions. This isn’t always the case with the best camera phones.

Software: As frustrating as the cameras were, I was significantly more annoyed with the RedMagic operating system, which sits on top of Android 12. The pre-installed phone themes are somewhat tacky, and the occasional mistranslations in the user interface can be quite annoying to encounter (something we noted even back on the RedMagic 6 last year). 

Nubia RedMagic 7 display

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

And while the RedMagic’s gaming mode feature can be useful for whenever you want to quickly switch between different apps and settings, it’s quite counterintuitive and difficult to both navigate and configure.

RedMagic 7 review: Verdict

The RedMagic 7 is a great option if you’re looking for a phone that can easily handle any sort of mobile game you can throw at it. If you’re already familiar with RedMagic phones and are thinking about replacing your older model with the 7, the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor will definitely make the upgrade worth your while.

Despite its decreased battery life, the RedMagic 7 is incredibly fast to charge, which will serve you well if you’re someone who likes to game for an extended period of time. And if you can look past its clunky user interface and poor camera system, it’s a killer phone.

Denise is a Life Reporter at Newsweek, covering everything lifestyle-related, including health, relationships, personal finance, beauty and more. She was formerly a news writer at Tom’s Guide, regularly producing stories on all things tech, gaming software/hardware, fitness, streaming, and more. Her published content ranges from short-form news articles to long-form pieces, including reviews, buying guides, how-tos, and features. When she's not playing horror games, she can be found exploring East London with her adorable puppy. She’s also a part-time piano enthusiast and regularly experiments in the kitchen.