Red is a Chinese brand that's been making gaming phones for ages. It's part of Nubia, which was once part of ZTE – and may still be; the internet is undecided on that fact.
Why the history lesson? Because the Red Magic 7 feels like it's going through something of an identity crisis. Funny menu translations, some rough edges within the UI, and an underwhelming battery collide with what is otherwise an affordable gaming phone with tons of power and some neat gamer-tailored flourishes.
Release date and price
Price and availability
Performance and specs
Should you buy it?
Now, if you're in the market for a gaming phone, you should expect an angry-looking design – and the Red Magic's styling transcends angry. The glass back is blazoned with glyphs that showcase its specs. On its most premium RAM and storage version, there's a transparent section, under which sits an RGB-lit fan. It's a lot.
The Red Magic 7 is also big and bold with a cold, stark metal frame, prominent vents and flat sides. It's heavy, thick, and a handful, whether you're holding it like a phone or a controller.
With booming loudspeakers and that bold 6.8-inch 165Hz screen, the Red Magic 7 displays movies and games with impact – and thanks to stacks of power under the hood because of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, performance is on-point too.
The interface is the main area where the Red Magic 7 drops the ball. It runs Android, so app support is great, and Red's also added a bunch of widgets to the mix to help you quickly control its fan and access gaming features. That said, various English translations throughout the UI miss the mark, and there are also a few visual issues.
The battery will last about a day with medium to light operation, but only around 8 hours with heavier use, so gamers who don't have time for an afternoon charge should look at alternatives with bigger batteries like the ROG Phone 5.
At its price point, there are few phones with the same level of power and gaming-focused appeal that can compete with the Red Magic 7.
That being said, the Poco F4 GT is an excellent alternative, with pressable shoulder buttons that are better than the Red Magic 7's touch buttons in our opinion. Its smaller screen also makes it a bit more manageable – and it has a better battery – though we'd have to say the watching of anything on it isn't as immersive. Also, the styling isn't as gamer-oriented as that of the Red Magic 7.
Alternatively, if you don't mind having 2021-grade internals, the Asus ROG Phone 5 and 5s Pro pack massive batteries and support for excellent accessories with Snapdragon 888-series power.
Nubia Red Magic 7: price and availability
- Price from $629 / £529 / AU$900
- Various RAM and storage configurations
- Affordable for a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 phone
The Red Magic 7 price falls well below most Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 smartphones. You can pick it up for $629 / £529 (roughly AU$900) with 12GB RAM and 128GB in an Obsidian color: this is the entry-level configuration. The 16GB RAM / 256GB storage model costs $729 / £619 (roughly AU$1,090) and is available in Pulsar – a pink/purple reflective color scheme. The Supernova color option, which features the RGB fan window and 18GB RAM costs $799 / £679 (roughly AU$1,200).
The phone went on sale in early February 2022 and is available SIM-free exclusively, with no major carriers or networks tethering it to a plan or contract.
- Value score: 4/5
Nubia Red Magic 7: design
- Available in Obsidian, Pulsar, and Supernova color options
- Large-sized Android phone
- Garish gaming-phone design
When we consider the evolution of gaming phones since the ROG Phone and original Black Shark were launched, Nubia's Red Magic 7 doesn't push the envelope too far when it comes to physical gaming tools. It's got touch-sensitive triggers, but that's about it.
The front of the phone is a big flat screen that's notch-free; the sides are composed of flat, stark metal with grilles; and the back is curved glass. Each configuration is available in a different color. We tested out the Supernova option. What sets the Supernova apart from the rest of the Red Magic 7s is the window that sits alongside the camera, so you can peek into the fan, which is lit up by LED lights when gaming.
The phone measures 170.6 x 78.3 x 9.5mm and weighs 215g, making it one of the biggest and beefiest options around – but it's still significantly lighter than an iPhone 13 Pro Max (238g).
The power button sits along the right side, the volume rocker on the left, and the USB-C port is at the base. There’s no second USB-C port along the Red Magic 7's side, which would have made gaming more comfortable, but there is a 3.5mm headphone jack so you can plug in your headphones.
Around the back is a curved glass panel that's basically a glorified spec sheet. It's loaded up with glyphs and specs, seemingly every bit of information – from the phone's chipset to the screen's refresh rate and fan rotation speed – is proudly blazoned across the glass. The Magic 7 clearly wants everyone to know what it's touting.
Given the exposed vents and visible fan that pumps air through the phone, you shouldn't be surprised that the Nubia Red Magic 7 isn't water or dust resistant. That being said, it is protected on the front, thanks to a pre-fitted screen protector, and there's also a case in the box.
On the right side, there are responsive touch-sensitive triggers, which sport a 500Hz touch-sampling rate, and with a flick of the left-hand slider, you can fire up the Red Magic gaming space.
- Design score: 3.5/5
Nubia Red Magic 7: display
- Large-size 6.8-inch screen
- FHD+ resolution, 165Hz refresh rate
- 720Hz touch sampling rate
The Nubia Red Magic 7's screen is big, bold, and bonkers smooth. Loaded up with a sky-high 165Hz refresh rate, it's smoother than any mainstream flagship, and with a nippy 720Hz touch-sampling rate, it's also responsive for gaming too.
At the heart of the Magic 7's screen is a 6.8-inch panel with a FHD+ resolution and AMOLED technology. With a 700-nits max brightness, it doesn't beam as brightly as some competitors, but in side-by-side comparison, didn't fare too much worse than many of today's finest flagships.
The whole Red Magic 7 line ditches punch-hole selfie cameras and notches, so that means you get an uninterrupted, full-screen experience, something of a novelty today. The result is a wide, expansive, ample display with punchy saturation and very zingy colors by default. In the settings, you can pare back the vividness for a more natural look.
Of course, you don't need a 165Hz screen all the time, so you can easily toggle between 60Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz, and 165Hz through the quick menu in the notifications shade, or a widget that you can deploy on your home screen. That said, there's no auto-refresh rate, which doesn't bode well for battery life.
- Display score: 4/5
Nubia Red Magic 7: camera
- 64MP main, 8MP ultrawide, 2MP macro
- Lots of classic Samsung camera modes
- 8MP selfie camera
Just like many other gaming phones, including the Lenovo Legion Phone Dual, Nubia isn't prioritizing the camera specs like other smartphones currently launching.
At the helm is a high-resolution, but small-sized sensor, which clocks in at 64MP and roughly half an inch. On the plus side, its lens packs a wide aperture of f/1.8. There's an 8MP ultra-wide camera too, with a 13mm focal length and a 1/4-inch sensor. Finally, the main camera mix includes a 2MP fixed-focus macro camera with a f/2.4 aperture.
Front cameras are arguably more important for gaming phones, but the 8MP sensor in the selfie camera looks like it's the same spec as the ultra-wide camera, and doesn't promise too much based on numbers alone.
Despite the Red Magic 7's middling camera specs, you can still get very decent pictures from the phone, especially in bright, evenly-lit scenes. With Qualcomm's latest image processing as part of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, Nubia has eked out decent dynamic range and punchy colors from daylight shots taken on the Red Magic 7.
Photo contrast can be a bit high, so detail in the shadows might need to be pulled out in an edit. All in all, the main camera's daylight photos exceeded our expectations. As for the ultra-wide camera, this does an okay job of adding extra versatility to the mix. However, quality falls behind with the main camera's photos, and the macro camera is the worst of the bunch.
When the lights drop, the detail does too. While photos aren't too grainy – which is good – the Red Magic 7 won't magic a dark scene into a bright picture like competing camera phones. The night mode helps with this, and boosts dynamic range in low-light scenes.
One area where the Nubia Red Magic 7's camera tries very hard to impress is with its photo modes. There are plenty of them, and they attempt to add tons of value. In addition to standard modes, the phone offers: Star trail, Starry sky, Electronic aperture, Light draw (light trails), Multi-exposure, Slow motion, Time-lapse, Clone, Trajectory, Macro, 3D, ID photo, Panorama, Zoom blue, Freeze frame, Phantom, VLOG, Hitchcock and Art camera.
These modes are rough around the edges, but many are fun, so if you fancy getting creative, there's plenty here to play with. The video recording quality is also better than we thought it would be. Climbing up to 8K in resolution and 60fps when shooting at 4K or lower, the footage is steadied well and sharpness is on point. Low-light performance isn't good, but if you're okay with saving your video capture for daylight scenes, you'll probably be impressed with the Magic 7.
- Camera score: 3/5
Nubia Red Magic 7: performance
- Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 power
- 12-18GB RAM
- 128-256GB storage
The Nubia Red Magic 7's sheer power is the area where it shines the brightest. With its Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, it's able to handle all modern-day games, and the model we tested, with its fan pumping air through the phone, stayed relatively cool even under pressure.
When we put the phone through the Geekbench 5 benchmark test, it returned a multi-core score of 3,600, which puts it above phones like the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra and gaming phones like the ROG Phone 5; it even bested some other Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 devices like the Vivo X80 Pro. 3D Mark scores were also strong, with a Wildlife benchmark score of 9,960, slightly exceeding the Poco F4 GT, which scored 9,930 in our tests.
The Red Magic 7's speed isn't just a result of its power – the sky-high refresh rates also help the phone feel very fast. The only issue we had with the fan was that it fired up when running benchmarks, even when we manually turned it off. Otherwise, it behaved just fine. It didn't keep the phone ice-cold – 30 minutes of Genshin Impact warmed things up a lot, making the slab of a phone hot and uncomfortable to hold. That said, what we did notice was that the fan cools things down more quickly than fanless operations of phones like the Xiaomi 12 Pro.
- Performance score: 4.5/5
Nubia Red Magic 7: software
- Android 12 software
- Red Magic UI feels relatively stock
- Lots of UI inconsistencies and rough edges
In the image above, you can see the keyboard, and below it, the background – in this case, the apps tray. We're pretty sure Nubia didn't intend for the keyboard to float like this, and if it did, it's an interesting choice. The next image is a quite funny low battery warning. Now, we're all for sassy interfaces filled with personality, but once again it feels like a poor translation rather than an intentional move.
Despite these UI quirks (there are more), the Nubia Red Magic 7 runs Android 12, so app support is great. Nubia blocks some of the visual flourishes of Android's OS – Material You, for example, is missing, which lets you change the color scheme of the phone menus to match the wallpaper.
Nubia also loads up a bunch of widgets to help you quickly access gaming-focused features of the Red Magic 7, so you can toggle fan speed, see your game time for the day, get a gaming reminder and adjust your screen refresh rate on the fly.
Through its gaming software – accessible when you're playing a game – you can access fan control, limit background notifications, record the screen, and add '4D' vibration, so when the volume gets loud, the phone rumbles. This is also where you can set the touch-sensitive triggers and a controller. Frustratingly, button mapping for games only supports Red's own controller accessory. Therefore, you can't hook up a PS4 controller to a game like Genshin impact unless natively supported.
So while the gaming elements within the Red Magic 7's interface are good, we just can't look past the lack of refinement in the rest of the UI.
- Software score: 3/5
Nubia Red Magic 7: battery life
- 4,500mAh battery is small for a gaming phone
- Seldom makes it through a full day when gaming
- Fast 65W charging
The Red Magic 7 has a 4,500mAh battery, which is on the small side for a gaming phone. There's also power-hungry 5G connectivity on board, as well as the top-tier power.
Achieving less than eight and a half hours of screen-on time, the Red Magic 7's battery life is bested by the gaming phone competition, with the ROG Phone 5 Pro pulling in over 15 hours with its 6,000mAh cell when set at the same brightness level.
What the Red Magic 7 does do is charge quickly, with the 65W supplied charger powering it up by 45 percent in just 10 minutes, and fully charging it in around half an hour.
- Battery score: 2/5
|Design||Bold and angry, the Red Magic 7 is a gaming phone through and through. Good, traditional, but fails to push the envelope.||3.5/5|
|Display||Bold and brilliant with a 165Hz refres rate – a high point of the phone.||4/5|
|Performance||Nippy when gaming and working through the UI, it delivers best-in-class power, but does get hot.||4.5/5|
|Camera||While you don't buy gaming phones for their cameras, the Red Magic 7's do a good, but not great job at picture taking.||3/5|
|Battery||The Red Magic 7's humble 4500mAh battery falls behind the competition.||2/5|
|Software||While the core UI is relatively simple and stock, poor translations and some rough edges limit the Magic 7's appeal.||3/5|
|Value||Despite not being a perfect smartphone, the Red Magic 7 offers exceptional value for anyone who wants a gaming phone above all else (and can handle mediocre battery life).||4/5|
Should I buy the Nubia Magic 7?
Buy it if...
You want maximum gaming bang for your money
The Red Magic 7 costs less than almost any other Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 gaming phone – the only real competition in its price category is the Poco F4 GT, and that doesn't support as many accessories, sport as high a screen refresh rate, or benefit from such a big screen.
You watch loads of movies and video
With its big, expansive screen and stereo sound, the Red Magic 7 plays movies brilliantly. It also has a decent amount of storage for offline playback.
You like gamer-styled tech
With its RGB lights (Supernova version) and angry glyphs blasted across the Red Magic 7's back, the phone looks and feels like a gaming phone. There's nothing subtle about it.
Don’t buy it if…
You want a good camera zoom
The worst thing about the Red Magic 7 camera is probably the lack of a good zoom (or ultra-wide). Pinch in or pull out, and photos look low on detail in good lighting, and just plain bad when the lights drop.
You need great battery life
The Red Magic 7 will struggle to make it through a full day with its big screen, powerful internals and small battery. While it charges quickly, therefore, anyone who needs killer battery life should look at alternatives like the ROG Phone 5 or 5s.
You want a polished UI
From menus within the UI pulling up errors and dead ends, to odd translations, while the Red Magic 7's performance is smooth, its interface packs quirks that detail-oriented users won't love.
ROG Phone 5 and 5s
With its excellent range of accessories, more refined interface, and larger battery, Asus's ROG Phone 5 is the quintessential Android phone for a reason.
Check out our ROG Phone 5 review
Poco F4 GT
Poco's low-cost gaming phone may miss out on the massive 165Hz screen of the Red Magic 7, but its more manageable, accessible styling, smart shoulder buttons, and more polished interface make it a great alternative.
Check out our Poco F4 GT review (opens in new tab)
Realme GT 2 Pro
If you think you can sacrifice gaming phone looks, but still want Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 power, the flat-screened Realme GT 2 Pro is a much more polished flagship experience that still nails gaming, and has a far superior camera system when compared to Nubia's gaming phone.
Check out our Realme GT 2 Pro
- First reviewed May 2022
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