OS: Android 11 / Red Magic OS 4.0
Screen size: 6.8-inch AMOLED (2400 x 1080; 30 - 165 Hz)
Processor: Snapdragon 888
Rear cameras: 64MP (f/1.8) wide, 8MP (f/2.0) ultrawide, 2MP macro
Front camera: 8MP (f/2.0)
Video: Up to 8K at 30 FPS
Battery size: 5,050 mAh, 66W
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 13:20 (60Hz) / 11:38 (90Hz) / 11:49 (120Hz) / 11:16 (165Hz)
Colors: Eclipse Black
Size: 6.69 x 3.04 x 0.38 in
Weight: 7.76 oz
The RedMagic 6 from Nubia is another gaming phone in an ever-growing market. Gaming phones are specialized Android devices meant to offer the best gaming experience with big, high refresh rate displays, better cooling and huge batteries.
I’ve made my opinions about gaming phones clear. They’re not as necessary as you might think — the best gaming phones are the ones that do everything else well, like the iPhone 12 Pro or OnePlus 9 Pro. And although the RedMagic 6 isn’t a bad device, it falls prey to the same old problems that have plagued rival gaming-centric devices.
Read on for our review of the RedMagic 6, the value gaming phone.
Editor's note: We crowned our picks in the Tom's Guide Awards 2021 for phones. The RedMagic 6 won a highly recommended award.
RedMagic 6 review: Pricing and availability
You can pick up a RedMagic 6 for $599/€599/£509 with 128GB of storage and 12GB of RAM, which is hundreds less than the ROG Phone 5. You’ll be able to pre-order from April 9 through 14 from Nubia. Sales open on April 15.
If you’d like to double the storage and also get 16GB of RAM, you can grab the RedMagic 6 Pro, which costs $699/€699/£599.
RedMagic 6 review: Performance
A gaming phone ought to pride itself on peak performance and the RedMagic 6 certainly delivers. It features a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 888 paired with 12GB of RAM, along with a built-in fan to keep everything cool when under stress.
In Geekbench 5, the RedMagic 6 scored 1,120 in single-core and 3,681 in multicore. Compare that to the ROG Phone 5’s respective scores of 1,127 and 3,672. The phones are effectively neck and neck here, which is impressive when you consider the RedMagic 6 is €200 less than the starting price of the €799 ROG Phone 5. (Asus hasn’t set U.S. pricing for its gaming phone yet.)
In 3DMark’s Wild Life benchmark, the RedMagic 6 managed 34.5 frames per second versus the ROG Phone 5’s 34.8 FPS. So the RedMagic 6 performs almost exactly the same as the more expensive ROG Phone 5 while packing in many of the same features.
RedMagic 6 review: Display
The huge 6.8-inch AMOLED display on the RedMagic 6 works great for games with minimal touch latency to give that extra edge in games that support it. With the RedMagic 6, you get two display calibrations, Vivid and Natural. In Vivid, the phone managed 171.5% of the sRGB and 121.5% of the DCI-P3 color gamuts with a Delta-E color accuracy score (where 0 is perfect) of 0.27.
In the Natural mode, you’ll see 119.9% of the sRGB spectrum and 84.9% of the DCI-P3 gamut, all with a Delta-E score of 0.27. All of this comes close to the ROG Phone 5, where the RedMagic 6’s Vivid color profile is a bit richer than the ROG Phone 5’s. Regardless of which mode you go for, the RedMagic 6 scored lower Delta-E values than the ROG Phone 5.
While it’s a pretty close contest, the ROG Phone 5 gets noticeably brighter for outdoor play at 748 nits versus the RedMagic 6’s 560 nits. This only really matters if you’re playing outside, though — 560 nits is plenty bright enough for indoor play.
RedMagic 6 review: Battery life and charging
With its huge 5,050 mAh single-cell battery, the RedMagic 6 is a battery life champ. In its 60 Hz mode, it lasted for a whopping 13 hours and 20 minutes, placing it high up on our best phone battery life list. Up the refresh rate to the RedMagic’s 90 Hz default, the battery remains an impressive 11 hours and 30 minutes, still around 90 minutes better than the average smartphone. The RedMagic 6 also turned in impressive times when it’s screen was set to 120Hz (11:49) and 165Hz (11:16).
The RedMagc 6 beat the ROG Phone 5 despite having a smaller battery. In its 60 Hz mode, the ROG Phone 5 lasted for 12 hours and 23 minutes, while holding out for 10:27 at 144 Hz.
For charging the RedMagic 6 supports 66W charging. In our testing, the battery recharged to 34% in 15 minutes and 65% in 30 minutes. That’s not as fast as the OnePlus 9 Pro, but you can still top off your phone pretty quickly.
RedMagic 6 review: Camera and other features
We’ve spent this review focusing on the highlighting features of the RedMagic 6 that you’ll be looking for in a gaming phone. However, there are other items and features of note and we’ve outlined them below.
- The RedMagic 6’s triple lens camera setup disappoints, which you might expect from a gaming phone. The macro lens is effectively useless and ultrawide shots don’t look that great, either. The main sensor produces somewhat passable images, but their poor dynamic range and color reproduction look a bit off. The selfie cam struggles with white balance adjustments, especially in direct sunlight. And the night mode is okay — it’s certainly better than the ROG Phone 5’s, though not by much.
- Red Magic OS 4.0 sits atop Android 11. It features multiple themes with icon packs (few of which are any good) and wallpapers. It’s not a bad skin and I didn’t notice any stuttering or frame drops, though there are some English translation errors.
- The RedMagic 6 sports a whole host of gaming features, like a new game space, better cooling systems, shoulder triggers, a low touch latency, and Wi-Fi 6E support. This phone is packed to the gills with features and it does so at an amazing price point.
RedMagc 6 review: Verdict
Despite its status as a gaming phone, the RedMagic 6 is actually quite good, once you set aside its camera performance. It packs in a ton of hardware and software features for the low price of $599, which costs well below rival gaming phones. It’s neck and neck with the pricier ROG Phone 5.
If you’re set on a gaming phone, then the RedMagic 6 is the best bang for your buck. It also has the added benefit of being available in the US while we’re still waiting on North America news for the ROG Phone 5.