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The Nubia Red Magic 3 represents fantastic value for gamers, and nothing’s going to take that away from it. For less money than any other Snapdragon 855 gaming phone, you get a handset built to be played on. The fan keeps it cool, the touch-sensitive triggers work brilliantly, there’s RGB lighting, the screen is enormous, and the speakers are loud.
The reality is, however, that the Red Magic 3 isn’t built for much else. Poor translation throughout the UI, a very lacking camera experience and a mediocre display hold it back from being an everyday phone.
This means, if you’re an obsessive Android gamer on a budget who doesn’t care about much else, the Red Magic 3 is probably a four-star device. For everyone else though, thanks to shortcomings in key areas, you can knock a star off, which is exactly what we’ve done.
Who's this for?
If you’re a gaming fan, but don’t want to stump up the kind of money a flagship demands these days, and want a phone that’s been custom-built to deliver incredible battery life and gaming performance, the Red Magic 3 could be it.
Should you buy it?
As long as you’re comfortable with the fact the Nubia Red Magic 3 delivers a rather disappointing camera experience, you should consider it if you need gaming performance on a budget. It might not be perfect, but you’ll be hard-pressed to get more for less.
This isn't the only gaming phone. Check out these three alternatives:
Black Shark 2
The Black Shark 2 is similar to the Red Magic 3 in many ways, no NFC or water resistance, some translation issues, and a beefy metal frame that looks angry. What it does deliver however is a significantly better camera experience, making it a more desirable smartphone if you plan on doing more than just gaming on it. Costing only a fraction more than the Magic 3, it’s also a great value device.
Read our full Black Shark 2 review
Razer Phone 2
The Razer Phone 2 delivers style, a faster screen refresh rate and a significantly more polished experience out of the box. It also packs NFC, Wireless charging and water resistance.
While it was handicapped when it launched by a high price-tag and a lacking screen, it can now be picked up with a substantial discount, so if you can find it at the right price, it could be worth considering.
Read our full Razer Phone 2 review
Asus ROG Phone
The ROG Phone may have been superseded by the recently announced ROG Phone 2, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the original. It packs a fantastic camera, all the bells and whistles you’d want from a gaming phone and is also a joy to use in day-to-day life.
As with the Razer Phone, it’s popping up at discounted prices more and more, so if you can handle a smaller screen, it could be a great alternative to the Red Magic 3.
Read our full Asus ROG Phone review
First reviewed: July 2019
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.