Nubia Red Magic 3 review

Great value gaming, mediocre everything else

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Battery life

  • Huge 5,000mAh battery
  • 18W quick charging
  • Excellent battery life

Unsurprisingly, the Red Magic 3’s giant 5,000mAh battery keeps the phone going a day and then some. If you’re conservative with usage, you can likely get two days out of it, but regular to intense use left us with about 35% after a long day. 90 minutes of video playback at max brightness drained the phone by just 11%, which is excellent.

In the settings, you can shut down rogue processes, and there’s a battery saver feature too. ZTE has also loaded up the Red Magic 3 with 18W fast charging, though we’d still recommend charging it up overnight as a full charge takes just under two hours, unsurprisingly given the giant capacity cell under the hood.

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  • 48MP single camera
  • Disappointing imaging experience
  • Up to 8K video recording

The Red Magic 2 features a 48MP primary camera with an f/1.7 26mm wide-angle lens, as well as a 16MP selfie camera. Looking at all the gaming phones available, it’s clear that just going by the specs, that’s where the Magic 2 trails behind, and, unsurprisingly, this is reflected in the camera’s performance.

The shooting modes haven’t fared well in translation from Chinese to English, for starters. There are Photo, Video, Pro, and ‘Pretty’ modes. Additionally, there’s a ‘Camera Family’ menu, which showcases additional shooting modes which include MultiExposure, LightDraw, Electronic Aperture, Clone, and Time Lapse.

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Most of these are a bit gimmicky, and the Aperture mode doesn’t even do what you expect it to (blur out the background like a portrait mode might). In fact, we’re not sure what it did. 

As for photo quality, even in good light, contrast is boosted too much, as is sharpness. The lack of optical image stabilization means hand shake comes through thick and fast irrespective of how brightly lit the conditions you’re shooting in are. 

While the Magic 3 features the same sensor found on the Asus ZenFone 6 and the Xiaomi Mi 9, it can’t hold a candle to either, so we’d recommend if imaging is a priority for you and you want a gaming phone, grab a Black Shark 2.

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What’s interesting is that video and selfies outperform the rear camera’s photography capabilities. Selfies deliver a fair amount of detail, and the beauty mode is flattering.

The phone can shoot at up to 8K (yes, 8K) resolution, and while the screen isn’t HDR10 compliant, it can shoot HDR content, it just can’t play it back; this is a strange phone.

What’s also noteworthy is the image quality in video. While the stabilization doesn’t hold up particularly well, in 4K resolution at up to 60fps, the picture quality itself is good, which just begs the question: what went wrong with the stills camera?

Camera samples

Basil Kronfli

Basil Kronfli is the Head of content at Make Honey and freelance technology journalist. He is an experienced writer and producer and is skilled in video production, and runs the technology YouTube channel TechEdit.