RedMagic 6 Pro review: Great for gaming, not so much for everyday

Android Central Verdict

Bottom line: The RedMagic 6 Pro has a lot to like — a huge battery, a bright screen, and the highest-end specs. It also serves its intended purpose as a gaming phone beautifully! The trade-offs are software that lacks polish, more than a few bugs, and a horrible camera.

Pros

  • +

    Amazing performance

  • +

    The $699 price tag

  • +

    A giant 5050mAh battery

Cons

  • -

    Buggy software

  • -

    Design can be polarizing

  • -

    Terrible camera

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I love checking out some of the amazing phones that we don't usually get to see. The RedMagic 6 Pro especially caught my eye because I use a RedMagic phone every evening to watch videos in bed — the battery life is unbeatable. It's been here for about a week, and I am not disappointed or surprised.

It's big. It has the latest specs. It has the requisite RGB LEDs that the best gaming phones require. It even has a user-controllable cooling fan. Pretty intriguing, right? There is a lot to love about this phone, but there is also a lot to not love. Scroll down to read our full RedMagic 6 Pro review.

RedMagic 6 Pro: Price and availability

RedMagic 6 Pro product page

Source: ZTE (Image credit: Source: ZTE)

Right now, the only place to purchase the RedMagic Pro 6 for North America is directly from the manufacturer. You'll want to do this because there are a few differences between the version for Asia and the version for the rest of the world, notably the battery size (Asia's is slightly smaller), faster-charging speeds, and the software itself.

You can also purchase some gaming-focused accessories such as a dedicated e-sports handle (opens in new tab) or the Ice Dock cooler (opens in new tab) for keeping temps way down. You'll also find the standard fare like screen protectors and cables.

Based on RedMagic phones of the past, North American and EU versions should appear at Amazon eventually as well as the dedicated accessories.

RedMagic 6 Pro: Hardware and specs

Redmagic 6 Pro Display

Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

The RedMagic 6 Pro embraces mobile gaming in almost every way. The hardware is top-notch. The design is trendy, with programmable RGB LED lighting on the back of the phone and specialized motion wallpapers that zoom or flicker when you go back to the home screen. There are right and left triggers built into one side so when you're holding it horizontally, they are up top where you need them, and there is even a cooling fan that has two settings — Intelligent kicks in when the phone gets hot, and Performance runs it full blast whenever the screen is on. You can also disable the fan, which you'll probably want to do most of the time because you can hear the whirring of the tiny blades.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
SpecsRedMagic 6 Pro
SoftwareAndroid 11
Display6.8-inch (2400x1080) 165Hz AMOLED
ChipsetSnapdragon 888
RAM12GB/16GB/18GB
Storage128GB/256GB/512GB
Rear Camera 164MP ƒ/1.8 (primary)
Rear Camera 28MP ƒ/2.0 (wide-angle)
Rear Camera 32MP (macro)
Front Camera8MP ƒ/2.0
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6E, BT5.1 LE, NFC
Battery5050mAh | 65W USB PD
SecurityIn-screen fingerprint
ColorsEclipse Black, Moon Silver
Dimensions169.9 x 77.2 x 9.7mm
Headphone jackYES
Weight220g

Display

The display is a 6.8-inch 2400 x 1080 165Hz AMOLED wonder. It's bright, though it struggles in direct sunlight, and on its own, you will really like what you see. Colors are rich thanks to 10-bit color support (opens in new tab) and slightly saturated, so it looks good to the human eye. Blacks are liquid and deep, and my unit has no blue or yellow tinting in white areas.

One thing about the display is that other phones like the Galaxy S21 offer a higher resolution in a smaller footprint, and if you compare the two side by side, you'll notice things aren't quite as crisp on the RedMagic 6 Pro's giant display. Otherwise, you'll think it's awesome.

You can also choose from several different display refresh rates. 60Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz, and 165Hz are your choices, and a quick settings shortcut makes it easy to switch on the fly. Lower refresh rates will, of course, save some battery, so having an easy way to switch is appreciated. A final note — I really can't notice a difference between 120Hz and 165Hz, but some eyes might. Still, 165Hz is a great number to see on a spec sheet.

Internal hardware

Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

Inside the RedMagic 6 Pro, you'll find the best parts and components available when the phone was released. Qualcomm's Snapdragon 888 leads the charge, and special attention was given to how and when the chip itself thermally throttles because there is an active cooling system that really works.

Paired with the Snap 888 are 256GB of internal storage and 16GB of RAM (on the NA unit) to make sure you have room to download plenty of games and the memory to keep them running. 256GB of storage is a nice touch if you're not a gamer, as it gives plenty of room for photos, videos, music, or anything else you want to store locally.

When it comes to connectivity, things are a mixed bag. ZTE-Nubia advertises the phone as a 5G model, and in much of the world, that may be true, but things are very limited when it comes to North America. The only U.S. band supported is n41 which is T-Mobile's mid-band spectrum (opens in new tab). That's great news if you use T-Mobile and live in the right area, but the RedMagic 6 Pro is an LTE phone for everyone else. Wi-Fi 6E is a great addition and Bluetooth 5.1 LE means all your stuff is going to work.

Gaming

Awesome gaming

Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

Gaming is more than a buzzword when it comes to the RedMagic 6 Pro. All the visuals are there, a chunky industrial design complete with RGB LED action, but a few other additions make it great when it comes to gaming on your phone.

With a 500Hz sample rate, things happen exactly when you touch the screen.

The first and most important is the digitizer's touch sample rate. Single touch sampling is done at 500Hz, and even multi-touch sampling is fast at 360Hz. This means when you tap on the screen, it registers faster, and it is a thing you'll actually notice compared to non-gaming flagship phones.

On the side of the phone is a small red switch that looks like a ringer switch, but it's not. When turned on, you are placed into Game Space. Inside Game Space, you have easy access to the RGB lighting and fan controls, notifications are muted, and you can place game titles inside Game Space if you need this level of attention.

Game Space does more than controlling the fancy lights; a flick of the finger opens a small control panel where you can change the display refresh rate, screen brightness, mapping game controls, recording your gameplay, and even a way to create macros. These small additions work well and make the "gaming" tag more than just a buzzword — it's a good addition for people who are buying the RedMagic 6 Pro specifically because it's a great gaming device.

Along the right side of the phone, you'll find two small touchpads that are actually shoulder triggers like the ones you would find on a PlayStation 5 controller. They work better than you might expect and make a great addition for anyone whose primary use is for gaming. The side buttons have a 400Hz refresh rate, so they are responsive and placed well to rest your fingertips naturally.

Redmagic 6 Pro Fans Matter

Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

There is also an actual fan inside the RedMagic 6 Pro, and it's mostly user-controllable. You can choose to keep it off (which I don't recommend when gaming), run it in an intelligent mode where it fires up when things get too warm, or run it full-tilt, full-time to make sure things stay cool and unthrottled. You can hear the tiny fan spinning and whirring, so under day-to-day use, you'll probably keep it off. Changing settings is easy to do thanks to a quick-settings shortcut and support in Game Space.

Yes, there is a fan. Yes, it works exactly as it should. And it's loud.

The fan works in tandem with the phone's internal liquid and graphite cooling setup, and it means you'll not see the phone heat up during normal use; when gaming, the fan makes a big difference. I ran some benchmarks with the fan disabled and saw the temperatures soar to over 120-degrees F; with the fan enabled, those same tests only raised the external temp to the mid-90s. The RedMagic 6 Pro actually earns the gaming tag.

RedMagic 6 Pro: What you'll like

Redmagic 6 Pro

Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

With a good display and the latest internal parts, the RedMagic 6 Pro churns through whatever you throw at it exactly as you would expect. Whether you're using the web browser, trying to edit a spreadsheet, or just browsing social media, everything stays super responsive. During my time with the unit, I never once wished it was more responsive or that the display was better.

This phone offers a two-day battery and a nice low price.

Gamers will also appreciate the shoulder triggers. They are well placed, so you're not reaching for them, nor are they cramped against the corners, and they offer real haptic feedback when you're using them.

When it comes to audio, both fans of the onboard speakers and headphone lovers alike will like what the RedMagic 6 Pro offers. The audio is loud and clear, with several speakers placed in spots where your hand isn't likely to cover them. In addition, there is a fully functional 3.5mm headphone jack, so adding a gaming headset is no problem. It works well, and the audio hardware inside the phone is acceptable.

Small design touches might be your thing, too. The phone looks like a gaming device with angled lines in the glass and metal construction and a squared font like what you would find on a gaming keyboard. And we can't forget the RGB lighting and its user-selectable patterns. The phone screams gamer.

RedMagic 6 Pro: Benchmarks

Redmagic 6 Pro Benchmarking

Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

I'm not someone who enjoys running benchmarks on either my gaming PC or my phone. I'll run them when needed, and I think a review of a gaming phone means they are needed.

I ran these tests (GFXBench and Geekbench 5) at a screen refresh of 165Hz, and the fans enabled. I tried running the tests with the fans disabled, but the phone became uncomfortable to hold, which tells me standard thermal throttling has been disabled for specific apps. That's cheating, but every phone maker seemingly does it, so ¯_(ツ)_/¯. I also tried to run PCMark Work 2.0, but the test would not complete without an error.

Here's a handy table you can tab through to see how the RedMagic 6 Pro compares to the Snapdragon-powered Samsung Galaxy S21. I purposefully chose the "regular" S21 because it has a similar display resolution (2400 x 1080).

CPU

Geekbench 5.0 (Higher is better)

Swipe to scroll horizontally
DeviceSingle coreMulti core
Galaxy S21 (120Hz)10723028
RedMagic 6 Pro (165Hz)11183512

Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

Geekbench gives us a good overview of the performance of the CPU cores. It's not the end all be all measure of performance, but it does provide a baseline for how an application with semi-direct access to the hardware can leverage it.

What's important here is that both phones use the same Snapdragon 888 chipset. Either the active cooling solution works, or ZTE has some other magic at play. Or both.

Graphics

GFXBench Aztec Ruins (Higher is better)

Swipe to scroll horizontally
DeviceOpenGL (High)OpenGL 1440p (Offscreen)Vulkan 1440p (Offscreen)
Galaxy S21 Ultra (120Hz)2,463 frames @38 fps1,106 frames @17 fps1,225 frames @19 fps
RedMagic 6 Pro (165Hz)2,504 frames @39 fps1,786 frames @28 fps1,961 frames @31 fps

GFXBench results

Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

I'm not sure why the RedMagic 6 Pro does so much better in these tests. I ran three sets and used the last for the results, took the time to close all running apps, and made sure the battery was above any sort of power-saving threshold.

In any case, you can see the RedMagic 6 Pro performs significantly better than the Galaxy S21. The difference was great enough that you could see it in the graphical portion of the benchmarking. Again, the fan? Maybe.

RedMagic 6 Pro: What you won't like

Redmagic 6 Pro

Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

The software looks to be basic "stock" Android with a set of skinned icons and Nubia's own launcher. While some might see this as a drawback on its own, it also lacks a lot of polish and attention to detail. For example, the setup had me searching around for the rear fingerprint sensor, which didn't work because a Google search told me the reader is actually under the display. It does work well, though, once set up.

There are bugs. Plenty of tiny bugs.

One thing that took away from the experience for me was how notifications work: they don't thread. When I wake up to 25 new emails, I don't want to see 25 separate notifications and Android 11 means I don't need to see 25 different notifications.

There are also tiny but numerous bugs in the software. Apps can continue to play audio even when they aren't on the screen. Several games I wanted to try refused to open (so did PCMark Work 2.0, a benchmarking app I really wanted to run), and there are plenty of misspellings and grammar errors in dialogs.

The camera

RedMagic 6 Pro camera software

Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

It's become apparent that gaming phones just don't need a good camera; at least that's what phone makers seem to think. You can use the rear 64MP camera to take a picture that is acceptable for social media or to text a friend, but overall, things look pretty terrible even in goo