One of the best phones you can buy is under $500 so why are we spending double?

Nubia Red Magic 3S review
Nubia Red Magic 3S review (Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj/Android Central)

Everyone has a different reason for buying the phone they chose. I use a Pixel phone because I don't like giving out my information to everyone and value security updates over everything. (And because BlackBerry Mobile seemed to stop caring.) But if you are the type of person who simply wants the very best hardware money can buy, you're probably doing it wrong.

Raise your hand if you've ever used a phone from a company like Xiaomi. Now, I can't actually see any hands being raised because I haven't hacked into all of your webcams, but I have a really good idea based on sales numbers, our web site metrics, and Google trends that very few of you are raising them.

Some amazing phones are released in Asia and never hit the U.S. Thankfully, the Red Magic 3S is an exception.

Now keep your hand raised if you loved that phone from Xiaomi and maybe are still using it. Most of those hands will still be raised, because Xiaomi makes phones with incredible hardware and doesn't charge $1,000 for them. I went on the hunt for one because I wanted a cheap phone with a huge screen to watch Netflix on during my sleepless nights (I'm a chronic insomniac) so I hit up our World phone editor Harish Jonnalagadda. If there is anything you ever need to know about those absurdly good phones from Asia, you should do the same.

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

So I've been using the Nubia Red Magic 3S for a couple of nights, and I have to say this out loud — why in the hell isn't this thing sold out everywhere? It's by far the fastest phone with the best hardware I've ever touched. It's even water cooled. WTF? ¯_(ツ)_/¯

I know the answer — marketing. You knew the answer, too, even if you didn't know you did. Have you ever heard of the Nubia Red Magic 3S? Probably not. But you've heard of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ because Samsung and its carrier partners make sure you hear about it. It's one of the best phones you can buy, so why not make sure you know about it, right?

Yes, the camera is meh at best.

There's another reason that will matter to plenty of people and that is the camera. A good portion of smartphone users want the very best camera a phone has to offer, and the Red Magic 3S does not even come close. But for a lot of other people, the Snapdragon 855+ "gaming" CPU, watercooling, 5,000 mAh battery and 6.7-inch 90Hz AMOLED display matter just as much. For everyone else who isn't into numbers or cameras — it has a $479 price tag. And a proper fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone where it belongs.

On the software side, things are both pretty and ugly. It has an interface that will instantly remind you of a Pixel or Motorola phone with very few changes from "pure" Android. It's also still running on Android 9.0 Pie. I just keep location turned off since I'm not going to use this beast for navigation, so I can deal with it. You might feel differently.

More: Nubia Red Magic 3S review: The best sub-$500 gaming phone you can buy in the U.S.

But this software literally flies. With the cooling system keeping the processor cores up and running full-tilt when they need to be, the giant battery letting that happen more often, and the 90Hz display, the interface is faster than your finger is. If you've every tried a OnePlus phone, you know how it feels faster than a similarly specced out phone from Samsung or Google. This is faster. A lot faster.

This phone is faster than you are.

I think we all understand why phones like the Pixel 3a exist — you don't need the very best hardware to do most of the things we do with a phone. All you need is a good overall package and a marketplace. It turns out that the same can be said for folks who do need the crazy level of hardware you can find in the latest flagship superphones, too.

If you have a hankering for the best hardware and $479 to spend on it, do yourself a favor and give it a try. I think you'll really like what you see and might never spend $1,000 on a phone again.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.