Razer might have released the very first gaming phone, but three other companies have dominated the market since then. Asus’s ROG Phones have long been considered the devices to beat, with Xiaomi’s Black Sharks typically a more affordable alternative.
But Nubia is the most prolific, with a total of 14 Red Magic phones in just four years. The Red Magic 7 Series sees both regular and Pro models released globally for the first time.
A price increase means the 7 Pro is the most expensive gaming phone Nubia has ever made. But depending on what’s important to you, it’s not necessarily an upgrade over the regular Red Magic 7. Here are my thoughts after spending a few weeks with the phone.
Design & build
Premium build, including metal plate on back
Under-display selfie camera makes phone more compact
Even heavier than regular Red Magic 7
Unlike some Pro phones, you can instantly tell the difference between the Red Magic 7 Pro and its regular counterpart.
Nubia has taken the brave decision to embed the front-facing camera under the display, rather than in a top bezel or notch. It’s completely hidden when using most apps, but you’ll probably notice it with the screen off.
Initially, I was disappointed with Nubia for essentially downgrading the Red Magic 7 Pro cameras. But that all-screen design does help deliver an immersive gaming experience, and I doubt most gamers will care about lower quality selfies.
It still supports face unlock, but I imagine most people will use the optical in-display fingerprint sensor instead. This is easy to set up and has a high success rate.
The Red Magic 7 already had slim bezels, but the 7 Pro takes things to the next level. An 87.1% screen-to-body ratio is impressive for a gaming phone, and it allows for the same large 6.8in display within a more compact body. It’s significantly easier to use one-handed and more pocketable as a result.
However, that hasn’t had an effect on the weight of the 7 Pro. At 235g, it’s actually 20g heavier than the regular model. Still, I had no issue using either device for long gaming sessions.
The 7 Pro’s extra weight comes from an aluminium plate which extends down the back of the phone. Nubia says this is to help with heat dissipation, but it’s presumably also why the company changed the camera module design from the regular model too.
The best thing about this is that the camera module sits almost flush with the back of the device. The 7 Pro is thicker than most at 10mm, but this is a worthwhile trade-off.
Compared to previous Red Magic phones, colour options on the 7 Pro are more muted. The ‘Supernova’ model which exposes some internals is only available on the top-spec model. If 256GB storage is enough for you, Obsidian (black) is your only option.
Nubia includes a clear plastic case in the box, which does a good job of protecting the most fragile parts of the phone. However, it undoubtedly detracts from the 7 Pro’s design. If you still want that extra layer of protection, I’d recommend the only official case available on the Red Magic website.
It’s business as usual on the sides of the device, at least by Nubia’s standards. The right side is where you’ll find almost all physical controls – volume rocker, power button and shoulder triggers – alongside one of two fan grilles. This makes sense, as you’ll want easy access to all these while gaming.
The only button you’ll find on the left side is a slider for Game Space, Nubia’s software-based gaming mode. There’s also still a 3.5mm headphone jack, kept out of the way on the top of the phone. A single USB-C port stays in its traditional position at the bottom, flanked by a SIM tray and speaker grille. No complaints here.
Screen & speakers
6.8in Full HD+ AMOLED display
Refresh rate down to 120Hz, but touch sampling now 960Hz
Decent stereo speakers
A smartphone is nothing without a great display, which the Red Magic 7 Pro undoubtedly delivers. It has the same 6.8in AMOLED screen as the regular model, sticking with a 1080×2400 resolution. Increasing the latter to 1440p would’ve been an obvious upgrade, but its omission here isn’t a dealbreaker by any means.
A more peculiar change is the decreased refresh rate, from the class-leading 165Hz down to 120Hz. It’s a strange move on a Pro-branded device, but it does bring the 7 Pro in line with many other flagship smartphones.
However, I can clearly understand why Nubia has taken this decision. Only a handful of games can output at 165Hz, many of which aren’t popular among mobile gamers. Even with both phones side by side, I struggled to notice the difference between 120Hz and 165Hz. Battery life also benefits, but I’d like to see an adaptive refresh rate introduced. Currently, you’re fixed at 60, 90, or 120Hz.
To compensate for this change, Nubia has increased the touch sampling rate of the Red Magic 7 Pro. It now stands at 960Hz, the highest you’ll find on any phone. That means it can register touch input up to 960 times every second, something that is keenly felt while gaming. This ultra-responsive display is a joy to use.
With all that in mind, the main conclusion here is that the display is still very impressive. Colours are rich and vibrant, and it still has more than enough detail for most people. With a max brightness of 459 nits in testing, I had no problems using the phone outside, either.
Gaming might be the priority, but it’s just as impressive when browsing social media or watching videos. For the latter, speakers take on greater importance.
The Red Magic 7 Pro has a stereo setup that produces audio that’s impressively loud and punchy, albeit prone to distortion at higher volumes. The sound is also slightly lacking in bass, making it better suited to voices than music.
Specs & performance
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and separate gaming chip
16GB RAM on both global models
Superb performance in all scenarios
Performance is an area where Red Magic phones regularly punch above their weight. But with an increasing number of mid-range phones equipped with Qualcomm’s flagship processors, the 7 Pro doesn’t quite stand out in the same way.
On the global version, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip is paired with 16GB of RAM across both configurations. An 18GB option is only available on the regular model, but that’s overkill even in demanding situations.
You also get Nubia’s custom ‘Red Core 1’ gaming chip here, which optimises vibration, feedback, lighting, and sound effects for the best possible gaming experience.
Even enthusiast-level gamers will struggle to notice any slowdown. I tested a selection of titles, including Call of Duty: Mobile, Real Racing 3, and FIFA Mobile. Performance across all three is excellent, as is the case with more casual games such as Rocket League Sideswipe and 8 Ball Pool.
However, when accessing the ‘Game Space’ mode, the built-in fan will kick in every time by default. This is fine if you’re playing a detailed open world game; less so for a 2D pool sim. Fortunately, this can be turned off if you’d prefer.
Game Space is also where you can boost performance even further (at the cost of battery life) and configure the shoulder triggers. If you regularly play FPS games, having dedicated controls makes a big difference.
Predictably, this excellent performance extends to everyday usage. Alongside the 120Hz refresh rate and 960Hz touch sampling, everything from web browsing and social media to instant messaging apps and taking photos are super-smooth and responsive.
This excellent performance is reflected in the benchmarks below:
Disappointingly, there’s still no option for microSD expandable storage. Considering the size of some game files, 256GB may not be enough space. 512GB is your only alternative on the global version – it would’ve been nice to see the 1TB model released outside China.
Of course, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip means you also get 5G support. That’s been a feature of Red Magic phones since early 2020, and is backed up by Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, and NFC support.
Triple rear cameras
64Mp main lens is great, ultrawide and macro underwhelming
Poor selfies from under-display camera
Even though cameras aren’t a priority on gaming phones, Nubia has continued working on improving them. The Red Magic 7 Pro, like its regular sibling, has a set of triple rear cameras: 64Mp main, 8Mp ultrawide, and 2Mp macro.
Aside from a slightly longer focal length on the ultrawide, both phones have identical camera hardware. What’s more, the quality of shots on offer here means photography can no longer be considered a weakness on Red Magic phones. They can’t compete with the best camera phones around, but it’s a big step forward.
Provided the lighting is good, that main lens will serve you well. It’s particularly adept at landscape shots, which are vibrant, well-exposed and offer a decent amount of dynamic range. I was often tempted to switch to the ultrawide lens, but a noticeable drop in quality made me reluctant.
The 7 Pro offers single-tap switching between them within the camera app, as well as 2x and 5x zoom. Without a separate telephoto lens, quality takes a hit, but shots are still usable.
With no separate depth sensor, portrait-style shots are reliant on software. I got some really nice stills with a blurred background, even if edge detection is a common issue. The software-based Night mode does a good job in low-light too.
But the low-quality macro sensor is pretty useless – you’ll get better close-up shots from the main lens.
Of course, the most controversial change on the Red Magic 7 Pro is that selfie camera. Housed under the display, it’s a very different approach to the traditional 8Mp sensor on the regular model. Nubia has bumped it up to 16Mp to help compensate, but it’s not enough.
Like previous under-display sensors, selfies lack some of the definition and detail you’d normally expect. Nubia applies some aggressive software processing after you’ve taken the shot, but they can still end up blurry or poorly exposed.
However, this is clearly a step forward compared to early iterations of the under-display camera, and a gaming phone is probably a good place to test out the tech. Low quality selfies aren’t an issue for most mobile gamers, so it’s a compromise many will be happy to make.
The Red Magic 7 Pro has fairly basic video specs, offering 1080p video at either 30fps or 60fps. But the inclusion of optical image stabilisation (OIS) means footage remains steady even when there’s lots of movement.
Battery life & charging
All-day battery life, including some gaming
65W adapter delivers full charge in 30 mins
The battery on the 7 Pro is a strange one. On the one hand, a 5000mAh capacity is a clear upgrade on to the 4500mAh cell in the regular Red Magic 7. But it’s actually slightly smaller than the 5050mAh battery on the global version of last year’s 6S Pro.
Nonetheless, I’m pleased to report that battery life is significantly better on the 7 Pro than the regular 7. In the same Geekbench 4 battery test, I recorded 8 hours and 44 minutes with the brightness at 120 nits. That’s almost 50 minutes longer than the Red Magic 7, which could make all the difference while gaming.
This only serves as a measure of screen-on time, but dropping the refresh rate down to 90 or 60Hz will extend this even further. After a full day’s usage, I still had some battery to spare, even with an hour or so of gaming.
When the battery does run out, the 65W adapter included in the box will get you up and running in no time. From off, I recorded a 65% charge in 15 minutes; the phone was fully charged in under half an hour.
It’s a shame not to see the eye-catching 135W fast charging come to the global version – that remains excusive to China. I doubt many people will take issue with these speeds, but the continued lack of wireless charging is more disappointing.
Software & updates
Red Magic OS 5.0 over Android 12
No specific software support commitments
Great for gaming, less impressive for other situations
As usual, the 7 Pro runs Nubia’s custom Red Magic OS skin over Android 12. This fifth iteration adds several gaming-focused widgets and other tweaks, but is still slightly rough around the edges.
You still get full Google access, including Discover to the left of the home screen. Nubia has included several of its own apps, but many of these can be uninstalled.
Annoyingly, the Red Magic 7 Pro still doesn’t let you swap out the default launcher for something different. The option is missing from the Settings app, which offers in-depth customisation but can be confusing at times.
The stripped-back UI of Red Magic OS is designed to get you gaming as quickly as possible. Activating Game Space via the physical slider takes you to a hub for all the titles you have installed.
It offers several tools to help maximise performance and minimise distractions. However, you can still quickly access key messaging apps, including WhatsApp, Telegram and Discord. It’s a bit confusing to navigate, but genuinely useful once you get the hang of it.
These days, Nubia phones are relatively quick to get new versions of Android after they launch. But the company hasn’t publicly committed to a specific number of years of software support. Considering Red Magic phones’ aggressive update cycle, that’s a cause for concern.
Price & availability
Nubia has kept things simple when it comes to Red Magic 7 Pro pricing, at least on the global version. It starts at £679/$799 for 16GB RAM and 256GB of storage, but doubling the latter to 512GB will cost you £759/$899.
To buy the phone, you’ll need to head to the Red Magic website in the UK and US – it’s not available via any other retailer. There are no carriers stocking the phone either, but it’s easy to pop in your own SIM or take advantage of a great SIM-only deal.
Considering you’ll need to buy the 7 Pro outright, that pricing may be a concern. The regular Red Magic 7 has a similar feature set and is significantly more affordable – starting from £529/$629 – while Asus’ ROG Phone 5 is only slightly more expensive. Plenty of other alternatives are available in our gaming phone chart.
The Red Magic 7 Pro is the most advanced gaming phone Nubia has ever made, but also the most divisive.
It offers stunning performance, thanks to Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, a separate dedicated gaming chip and generous helpings of RAM. The large, silky-smooth AMOLED display is a joy to behold, complete with class-leading 960Hz touch sampling rate.
Elsewhere, a hefty 5000mAh cell delivers all-day battery life, while 65W fast charging means you’ve got a full charge back in less than 30 minutes. Even the rear cameras are impressive these days.
But it’s that front-facing camera that will divide opinion. Embedded under the display, its results are demonstrably worse than a traditional selfie lens. Nubia’s choice to drop the screen refresh rate to 120Hz also hurts part of the Red Magic line’s unique appeal.
Combined with a price hike, only the most dedicated gamers should pay extra for the Red Magic 7 Pro. Most will be happier with the regular model, or one of the growing number of alternatives.
Nubia Red Magic 7 Pro: Specs
Android 12 with Red Magic OS 5.0
6.8in Full HD+ (1080×2400) OLED display, 20:9, 120Hz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
12/16 GB RAM
256/512GB internal storage (non-expandable)
64Mp main, 8Mp ultrawide, 2Mp macro cameras
16Mp selfie camera (under-display)
Fingerprint scanner (in-screen)
5G (mmWave, sub-6)
5,000 non-removable battery
65W wired charging
166.3 x 77.1 x 10 mm