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RedMagic 7 vs RedMagic 7 Pro: Which is the right gaming phone for you?

, Contributing editor · ·
Analysis Interpretation of the news based on evidence, including data; projecting how events might unfold based on past events or how products and services compare against each other.

(Pocket-lint) - The RedMagic 7 and RedMagic 7 Pro launched in fairly quick succession earlier this year. But, unlike most flagship smartphones, it isn't immediately apparent which one is the superior device.

Of course, there are a lot of similarities between the two gaming phones, but there are a lot of differences, too. You'd expect the Pro model to come with more impressive specs, but they share the same processor and the standard model is actually available with more RAM than the Pro. Puzzling stuff.

So, which one is the best gaming phone? Let's dive into the details and find out what sets these two powerhouses apart.

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There are a lot of options when it comes to buying a RedMagic phone, not just when it comes to specs but also finishes and colourways. As such, there's a range of prices for both devices.

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The RedMagic 7 starts at an impressively affordable price, considering its specifications, and if you want the ultimate gaming machine you can choose a spec with a monstrous 18GB of RAM.

The RedMagic 7 Pro is the pricier option, starting at the high end of the RedMagic 7's price bracket. The memory options don't quite extend to 18GB (though, we're not sure how necessary that much RAM is) but it comes with a respectable 16GB and can be configured with up to 512GB of storage, while the 7 maxes out at 256GB. If you opt for the top of the line model, you'll find yourself firmly in flagship pricing territory.

Visually, the two phones are quite different. The 7 Pro is noticeably smaller with minimal bezels around the display, this is thanks to the use of an under-display selfie camera, and we'll explore more about that later. The standard model has a more pronounced forehead bezel in order to house the selfie camera, and a chin, presumably, for the sake of symmetry.

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The RedMagic 7 Pro looks much more modern with its minimal bezels, but, while gaming, we found that we preferred the standard 7. Some game UIs place buttons right up to the edge of the screen and it's much easier to accidentally press them with the Pro. In fairness, RedMagic has tools to prevent palm touches from registering, and they work well - but having bezels works even better.

The RedMagic 7 has a curved glass back panel with an aluminium strip running down the centre of the device, the strip is under the glass and so the back panel has a seamless smooth feel. There is an aluminium frame around the outside of the device that's very rounded and tapers smoothly into the back panel.

The RedMagic 7 Pro is much more squared-off around the edges and the design reminds us of the iPhone 4. A similar aluminium strip is present on the rear but this time it's exposed, potentially to aid in the cooling of the device.

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The cameras are aligned in a strip on the standard model, whereas on the Pro they are in a square configuration. They are the same cameras, though, so moving them seems to be a purely aesthetic choice.

The RedMagic 7 has cooling vents on both the left and right-hand sides, as well as a vent on the rear. To ensure the volume rocker and lock button are within reach, the volume is on the left-hand side and the lock button is on the right. The Pro has no vent on the left, and so has moved both the volume rocker and lock button to the right-hand side, which feels much more traditional.

Both phones feel great in the hand, though the abundance of aluminium, narrow bezels and added heft of the Pro make it look and feel like a more premium smartphone. That extra weight might put some people off, though, the standard model was already heavy enough for us.

The display is a highlight on both of these phones and appears almost identical in person. Both panels are 6.8-inch AMOLEDs with an FHD+ resolution and both give you gorgeous vivid colours and lots of brightness. The software across both devices allows you to tweak the colour settings to a greater degree than most other smartphones that we've tested - so if you like tinkering you'll have a great time dialling it in to your preference.

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Interestingly, the RedMagic 7 beats the Pro when it comes to the refresh rate and peak brightness. We assume these cut-back specs are in order to maintain compatibility with the under-display camera. But, given that this is a gaming device, you'd expect buyers to be more concerned with the screen specs than new-fangled camera tech, so it's an odd choice.

The Pro variant attempts to make up for these cut-backs by boosting the touch sampling rate from 720Hz to 960Hz. In our testing, we couldn't really tell the difference, but then we're not pro gamers, your mileage may vary.

When it comes to processing power, both phones use the flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, and both benefit from a cooling fan and venting in order to extract the maximum performance from the SoC.

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The other specs differ slightly, the Pro version offers options with more storage capacity than the 7 - but the 7 offers the option to have more RAM. This is another puzzling move from RedMagic, we could understand how the screen specs were affected by the under-panel camera, but there's no discernable reason for the Pro to be offered with less RAM than the standard model.

In practice, both phones perform excellently whether it be in multi-tasking and productivity or, of course, gaming. They both benefit from RedMagic's comprehensive suite of tools to tweak everything from CPU clock speed and refresh rate to lighting and in-game macros.

One area where the phones differ is in the cooling. They both utilise the onboard fan and ventilation to keep the chipset cool during prolonged gaming sessions, and it works very well. But, it would seem that the Pro version is using its exposed aluminium parts as an extension of its heatsink. While this might benefit the chipset, it means that the phone gets hot to the touch very quickly, resulting in a less pleasant gaming experience. We didn't experience this with the standard model, which remained at a reasonable temperature even during marathon PUBG matches.

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The ventilation port on the rear of the device has shifted, too, on the Pro, it's about a centimetre closer to the top of the phone. This might not sound like a big deal, but for us, it means that the vent on the Pro sits exactly where our ring finger naturally rests while gaming - and blasts it with hot air in the process. Whether this will affect you will vary massively depending on your hand size and grip style, but you might want to consider the way that you grip your phone before committing to a purchase.

The rear cameras on the two devices remain the same. In short, photos from the 64MP main camera are quite good so long as there is sufficient lighting. Video results are decent and well stabilised, too, but we noticed a tendency for the focus to wander, which can be irritating. The 8K video mode on both phones has no image stabilisation and is pretty much unusable without a tripod.

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The 2MP macro is far too low resolution to be of much use and doesn't focus as close as we were hoping it to. The 8MP wide is okay for landscapes but also refuses to focus on anything close up. We mainly stuck to the main camera, which is in a completely different league to these two auxiliary lenses.

The selfie camera is where things get interesting. The standard RedMagic 7 has a small bezel which houses an unremarkable but perfectly usable 8MP selfie camera, whereas the 7 Pro has a fancy 16MP camera hidden behind the display.

The benefits of an under-display camera are obvious, there's no notch or cutout to get in the way of your full-screen gaming experience. So, in a way, the use of one here makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, the camera itself suffers from the same pitfalls that we are used to seeing with this camera tech.

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The live view comes out looking like there's a big fingerprint smear over the lens. Highlights are blown out and bloomy and everything looks soft and lacks detail. To combat this, RedMagic does a massive amount of post-processing in order to get usable results. The processing over-sharpens everything and gives images a surreal and unflattering look. We do think the RedMagic 7 Pro does a far better job of cleaning things up than older devices like the ZTE Axon 20 but it's no match for a traditional lens.

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We much preferred using the RedMagic 7 to the RedMagic 7 Pro, and since it is the cheaper option, it is without a doubt the phone we would recommend in this matchup. That's not to say that RedMagic 7 Pro is a bad phone, far from it, it's still one of the most powerful gaming phones money can buy. It looks and feels more premium, too, but unfortunately, that's where the advantages end.

With similar performance, a more comfortable gaming experience, a better selfie camera, more RAM and a higher refresh rate display the RedMagic 7 is the clear winner, in our eyes. However, if you need more than 256GB storage or are simply intrigued by the cutting-edge under-display camera tech, the RedMagic 7 Pro is a decent option.

Writing by Luke Baker.